What does it take to be an HR award winner in Wales?


One of the organisers of the Wales HR Awards: Paula Morris, Head of Marketing, Darwin Gray, shares her perspective on what it takes to win an HR award in Wales.

The first Wales HR Awards ceremony was held on 23rd March 2017 at the SSE SWALEC in Cardiff. With almost 350 people at the event, it’s fair to say it was a roaring success, far outstripping expectations in terms of the sheer volume of nominees, the quality of the shortlisted entrants, the diversity of the field, the number of people who were there on the night and how much fun it all was!

Obviously, organising it was hard work too, but we’ve now forgotten about that as we enjoy the afterglow and hear the lovely stories of how much it meant to the finalists and winners to be acknowledged.

The firm I work for, Cardiff based commercial law firm Darwin Gray, is one of the two companies which run the Wales HR Network and subsequently organise the Awards.

We got together with the team at Acorn Recruitment and Training to make it all happen, as we share a common belief that Wales’ most successful companies, whatever their size, have great people at the heart of them – people who are recruited, led, developed and retained by expert HR professionals.

What does it take to be a winner at the Wales HR Awards? Well, we gave a great deal of thought to the judging criteria because we knew it would be very difficult to select the winners from such a plethora of high quality entries unless we were really specific about it.

Innovation is important, as we’re interested to see new processes being used to make the job more efficient and effective. Sustainability is another watchword as, of course, any change that is implemented is only truly impactful if it has staying power.

However, HR really is all about people. To be an award winner, an individual needs to demonstrate that they can get buy in from others around them, show leadership in taking an idea from its origins through to delivery, and illustrate how they have had a positive impact on their organisation’s culture (or in the case of independent consultants, their client’s organisational culture).

Our winners did all of this. Importantly, they also showed that their work had both a commercial and personal benefit to their employers/ clients and the people who work for them.
The Wales HR Awards will now be an annual event to highlight HR excellence, celebrating the HR successes of private, public and third sector organisations, teams and individuals from all over Wales. The date has been set for next year’s awards, Friday 23rd March 2018, and further announcements will follow to encourage entries and make next year’s event even bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the Wales HR Network provides a year-round calendar of events and support for the HR community in Wales, giving you with an opportunity to network with your peers, meet thought leaders in your profession, get support with your professional challenges and share ideas. The events are listed here, and you can sign up to join the network here. We’d love you to get involved and come along to the events- hopefully we’ll see you at one soon!


Paula Morris is Head of Marketing at Darwin Gray, a Cardiff-based commercial law firm with clients all over Wales and the rest of the UK. With Acorn Recruitment and Training, Darwin Gray runs the Wales HR Network, the leading network for HR professionals in Wales.  Photographs by Michael Hall.

Author: Editorial Team

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