published on
May 3, 2023

A chat with Caroline Hayes, Head of People Operations at Florence

Jeanne Loganbill
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Life at Florence
A chat with Caroline Hayes, Head of People Operations at Florence

This week on Behind the Scenes, we’re chatting with Caroline Hayes, Head of People Operations at Florence.

As leader of the People Operations team, Caroline’s main priorities are company culture, retention and strategy, with a big emphasis on empowerment.

Who are you, and what do you do at Florence? 

My name’s Caroline, and I’m the head of People Operations at Florence. 

People Ops isn’t quite the same as traditional human resources. Instead of focussing only on day-to-day HR issues, we take a conceptual approach to people management and try to create a collaborative, communicative culture that keeps team members engaged. 

In simple terms, we put people at the centre of the business and ensure they have everything they need to flourish and deliver. A big part of that is enabling and supporting managers so that their teams thrive.

Our vision and mission here at Florence is really powerful. If we can attract, retain and empower people who align with our values, we’ll become a progressively stronger company. 

What made you want to join Florence? 

Florence’s values resonated with me from the start – “build a positive team” and “care about what you do” for instance – those are values I’ve lived and worked by for a long time. I wanted to work for a company with equity, inclusion and opportunity at its heart, and I saw that in Florence.

When I met Charles and Dan, I knew they both had a very clear sense of mission and purpose. I asked them what they believed, and it was exactly the same as what I believe: if you build a good team, anything is possible. At that point, I just had to join.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I can think of two really great pieces of advice, so I’ll share them both.

The first applied especially at the beginning of my career, and it came from my dad: “let the work speak for itself”. Between people dynamics and shaky self esteem, the world of work can be hard – especially when you’re young. So just do the very best you can and let the results show how competent you are and what you’re capable of. 

The second piece of advice is “don’t be afraid to sidestep”. You can gain so much understanding and experience working in different roles or departments – sidestepping can help you figure out what you really enjoy doing.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Florence?

Definitely the people – everyone here is very authentic and supportive. There’s a sense of, “we’re people before we’re our roles”, which is lovely. 

What’s the biggest challenge Florence is facing at the moment? ‍

Now that we’re an international company, we need to be very intentional about the global processes we create. Our ways of operating in the UK don’t necessarily translate well in other markets, and we have to be conscious of that. 

From a People Ops point of view, that means coming up with a global company vibe – something that resonates regardless of country – so that no matter where they work, people feel they’re part of Florence. We need to bring our values to life all over the world.

What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise us? 

A long time ago, I used to host a radio programme called Sunny Side Up. It was just a tiny little radio station in Ireland, but I really enjoyed it. I adore radio: when you listen to the radio, you learn so many random things you’d never find out otherwise.

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about joining Florence? ‍

There’s so much opportunity and potential here, but you have to be okay with working in an agile, changing environment. We’re always looking for ways to improve as the business evolves, so it’s important that you’re comfortable with that – it’s not for everyone.

If you are flexible and don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and learning new things, Florence is the place for you.

Where do you see Florence in five years?

In five years, I think Florence will be even more successful because I really believe we have an ethically sustainable business model. Between the people, the teams and the passion we have, I think we’ll achieve what we want to do. I’m very excited to be here.

If you’d like to work for Florence, take a look at our open roles.

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