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Described as "inspirational" and "professional" by our judges, Charlotte Hutchings has dedicated her working life to driving change in HR. In her role as people director for Gather & Gather, she is responsible for overall HR and learning and development across almost 300 locations for 75 clients and 2,500 employees who feed 150,000 customers a day.
Hutchings knew that HR needed to change to acknowledge the "emotional nature of catering" as opposed to the functional approach of facilities management. For two years, she worked on creating a strong HR team by setting up a learning and development strategy, recruiting HR leads and supporting the business through reinforcing its values.
As the business grew, the focus moved to keeping teams motivated and believing in their ability to make a difference. Hutchings, along with sales and marketing director Heidi Stone, launched a programme to review and relaunch Gather & Gather's values so they would resonate with the team, giving an emotional connection to allow service and growth prospects to flourish.
The aim was for all staff to know why the business exists and what it stands for, as well as how the team can drive results by being clear and compelling about what they value. The complete list of values has been drawn up as a way to motivate and connect team members, clients and customers. It also helps the business to focus on the team having a "great experience" rather than whether they have the "right skills". Hutchings has created a framework that measures and scores employee attitude and behaviour from the interview stage all the way through their careers.
The ideals also played a large part in securing a £40m contract with Vodafone in October 2015. Hutchings was part of the bid team and presented the ideals.
During a recent survey, 95% of managers said they felt comfortable using the ideals to manage their people, and over 2,500 training hours have been dedicated to the ideals.
Hutchings managed to achieve all this while studying in her spare time to complete a master's degree in the professional practice of strategic HR management and development. She has also worked with the food team to develop an apprentice accreditation programme that will result in an additional 25 apprenticeships this year.
The ideals now underpin every area of Gather & Gather, from recruitment to personal development. It's safe to say Hutchings has changed the mindset of 2,500 people.
What the judges said
"Charlotte has created and enabled a joined-up people strategy that is driven through a clear understanding of the culture and vision of the company. Her work has changed the way people think and behave in the business, and put people front and centre of how Gather & Gather operates - an inspirational entry."
Jo Harley, Purple Cubed
"Charlotte presents as a real thought leader. She's an HR professional with the right influence in an organisation that understands the importance of culture, brand and mindset in context of the customer experience. Establishing culture and changing the mindset of 2,500 employees is some journey, and it is evident that Charlotte has led it from the front."
Alison Gray, Delaware North
BaxterStorey People, talent and resourcing team
CH&Co Group HR team
Charlotte Hutchings Gather & Gather
2016 Gary Acheson and the HR team Rapport
2015 Emma Langford Lexington Catering
2014 Alison Gray Delaware North Companies
2013 Alison Gilbert CH&Co