Kea HR Celebrates Our 18th Year

In April 2024 it will be 18 years since I formed Kea HR and began my HR Consultancy journey.

How Kea HR Began

I had worked in manufacturing, health care and financial services before joining an accountancy practice as their HR Manager. Initially I was appointed as the practices in-house HR Manager but began providing HR advice to some of the larger clients. I had always had an ambition to help small businesses and after a couple of years I left the accountants and set-up-as a sole trader. Then I quickly had to think about a company name, logo and business cards. The website, how I would charge and accounts came next.

The First Five Years

Some of the clients I had worked with at the accountancy practice continued to use me so I had a handful of clients right from the start. I also started to attend a few local networking events.

For the first couple of years, I worked as an interim HR Manager to keep some regular money rolling in, so the bank manager was happy. Some of the roles were long-term but part-time and others were short-term but full-time. I commenced my last interim role in January 2010, working 2 days per week, and completed that role in May 2010. So, from June 2010 I have concentrated 5 days per week on Kea HR clients.

Key Learning Points From Those Early Years

I learnt very early on that no one can be a Jack of All Trades! My favourite saying to potential clients is ‘an hour of my time can save many hours of your time!’. So, I began to practice what I preach and outsourced what I wasn’t good at or simply didn’t have the time to think about!

I also found that certain ‘friends’ were very negative and were constantly trying to knock me down. So, I learnt quickly to ditch the negative people and surround myself with people who support and encourage me.

What Has Changed Over the 18 Years

Not much to be honest. I formed a clear idea of the services I wanted to provide while I worked for the accountancy practice. I have always been a firm believer that one size does not fit all and the initial services I offered were based on that approach and I have never deviated from it. There has been some tweaking along the way but fundamentally the services I offer today are the same ones I offered back in 2006 and they are all customisable and flexible so I always make sure that what I offer a client really is designed specifically for them. I would never try to sell anyone a Ferrari when a Corsa would do the job.

I was also keen right from the beginning that clients would always talk to me, so they weren’t repeating themselves every time they rang about a particular employee. That is still the case now. I have back of house support but they are not client facing. I very nearly recruited a HR Consultant to support me back in late 2019 – early 2020 but before I found the right person Covid hit. I might still do that but if I did my intention would be that we would each have our core clients so clients would continue to have a dedicated contact point. I use a CRM system which I record all phone calls, emails etc on so we could dip in and out of each other’s clients if one of us was on holiday.

Kea HR Clients

Some of those original accountancy clients are still with me today and those who aren’t were either bought out by larger businesses or ceased trading for one reason or another. I send a small gift to each client who reaches a five-year anniversary with me (5, 10, 15, 20 years as a client) and in 2024 I will be sending 6 – 15 year gifts, 15 – 10 year gifts and 21 – 5 year gifts. Today most of my new clients are referrals from existing clients with the remaining few finding me through Google or Yell and I do very little in the way of marketing.

What Makes Me Proud?

In 18 years I have only had one client that has received a tribunal claim and that was a spurious claim which was eventually withdrawn.

This will sound a bit daft, but I love it when a client gains the confidence to deal with difficult HR matters. It’s a bit like watching your kids go to University, you don’t stop thinking about them and they know you’re there if they need you, they just don’t need you as much!

This will sound a bit daft, but I love it when a client gains the confidence to deal with difficult HR matters. It’s a bit like watching your kids go to University, you don’t stop thinking about them and they know you’re there if they need you, they just don’t need you as much!

I see it that as they first jump on the conveyer belt, they need a lot of support to keep their balance but once they get their balance, they drop off the end of the conveyer belt but can always jump back on either at the start or in the middle if they lose their balance again.

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Kea HR Celebrates Our 18th Year


Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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