WOF morning coffee talks


By Vicky Holdsworth, Founding Partner of WOF and Marketing Director at ProFinda.

We're now into the fourth in our series of WOF morning coffee talks, and what better way to end the week than with our latest interview. This morning we sat down with WOF founding influencer - Kelly Swingler to discuss all things future of work and what she expects from the workforce of the future network.


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Tell us a bit about yourself?

I started in HR over 2 decades ago, in my first job for the John Lewis Partnership. Not long after I started, as an organisation we started to make changes to our teams and structures - which started the conversation about the workforce of the future and what that would look like for John Lewis.

At the time, I thought I wanted to stay with the John Lewis Partnership for life until I eventually retired. I was already planning on what I was going to do with my six months of paid leave after my 25 years of service, it was such an exciting role for me. After 8 years working for the John Lewis Partnership, the organisation started making changes to the level that I had just been promoted into. I was told that I was looking at another five to six years before my next promotion - I left John Lewis shortly after. For the next couple of years I worked for a variety of companies in roles across leadership, management and HR. In 2011, I took a position as the HR Director of Genesis Housing Group - an organisation that I felt very passionate about and where, I felt, I was able to bring about real change.

In 2013, after years of working in high-pressure roles within stressful environments I started to realise where I wanted the next steps of my career to take me, starting my own company - Chrysalis Consulting with the aim to drive real change within HR. I had never considered starting my own business before. Once I'd made the decision, I meant to do the sensible thing and save up enough money to cover a two year plan - three months later I'd handed in my noice and started Chrysalis Consulting.

Starting my own business has allowed me to grow in ways I could never have imagined. Consequently, I’m a huge advocate of personal development - always looking for new ways that people can invest in themselves to have a greater impact on work. I've now also had the opportunity to complete my MCIPD, a psychology degree, I’ve been awarded a number of coaching qualifications and am also working towards my PhD in Organisation Change. Time has flown by and next year Chrysalis will enter its 4th year, and I’m pleased to say that everything is going very well so far. 

Tell me about your general view on networks?

I've been part of networks for a long time, from ones that are virtual to ones that are face-to-face.They all seem to start with a huge amount of passion and a clearcut focus. However, as the networks that I have been involved in grow - they have lost sight of the reasons why they were created in the first place, ending up being very similar to all the other networks out there. I find this with a lot of HR networks. 

Ultimately, networks are truly useful when you can connect with great, likeminded people. But to stop the issue with networks phasing off, there needs to be a laser-like focus on the network’s aims and objectives.

What is the WOF network for you?

What I love about WOF is that it’s a real mix of people who are doing some really creative and innovative things. From my own HR and leadership development perspective, I find that the people on WOF are truly change-makers and they are implementing some really ground-breaking solutions to issues that, from an HR perspective, haven’t been solved in years.

There’s also a real mix of people who come from various professional backgrounds - like marketers, leadership experts, project managers and so forth. This creates a real mix of talent and it’s this diversity that leads to some really inspiring shared visions and values. Plus the drive to change things for our clients and within our organisations.

How do you envisage the WOF network will impact your business?

First of all, WOF offers a platform to be able to share and test ideas with an exciting group of peers. Running my own consultancy is great, and we get a lot of input from our customers and clients on the work we are doing - but sometimes you need that little extra input. I get that from WOF.

I also love the forums, face-to-face hangouts, such as the one I recently facilitated with Garry Turner. I love the opportunity to learn, listen and answer/ask important questions. WOF helps me continue my growth, test ideas, get essential collaborations, innovate and discover new ways to be creative. It really is a fantastic ideas hub.

What impact do you expect it’ll have on other members?

What you put into WOF is what you’ll get out of it. So if you’re prepared to invest time and energy to help other people on the platform, then you can get so much useful stuff out of it. WOF is all about bringing people together with a shared vision to change the status quo, develop the WOF network further, test innovative ideas, and reach out to great connections.