Hannah Kinney-Spencer

Human Resources Operations Manager, Deutsche Banke

Childhood, Culture and Education (CCE), 2014

I feel that parts of the course continue to impact on my experiences particularly working in a management role, for example in relation to diversity within my team and their different ways of learning.

It also has impacted in terms of how it improved my writing as I sometimes contribute to policy and even for structuring emails and proposals. It also has helped with time management in terms of juggling different priorities, similarly to managing coursework deadlines.

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?

I originally applied to do Classical Civilisation and during my gap year I was concerned with what career options that would leave me with at the end as I wanted to go into teaching and so changed to CCE. I also liked the breadth of the course and the different components it consisted of particularly with psychology and sociology.

During my course, and in particular on my placement, I realised I didn’t want to work with children and so looked at other career options.

Tell us about your career journey from Birmingham student to where you are today

Before finishing university I was obsessed with getting on a graduate scheme, to the point where I accepted one in retail management which was not what I was interested in at all. 

Between starting the role and finishing university, a family friend encouraged me to try some work experience in Human Resources (HR) and referred me to someone she knew at Ernst and Young who after speaking to me made me aware of an entry level position that she encouraged me to apply for as a HR Administrator. I was successful and started the job just before graduating. 

I was at EY for three and a half years and during that time I moved from a HR administrator into a HR team lead role to then leading two teams. I really enjoyed working for a large international company and there were plenty of projects and diverse opportunities I was involved in. I then moved to Deutsche Bank in a similar role and was promoted after just over a year to HR Manager and have been in the role for nine months. 

Describe a typical day

The thing I enjoy most about my role is the diversity and that no two days are ever exactly the same. I oversee a team of 10 currently who administer all core employee lifecycle processes whilst in employment including, but not limited to, family leave, salary increases, flexible working, redundancy and settlement agreements. I am then involved in larger scale projects as the team manager. 

A recent day I had consisted of a team meeting to walk through a process change for Shared Parental Leave; a call with colleagues in London to assist with an internal investigation by walking through some records and helping identify anomalies and patterns; an interview for a temporary role within my team and a kick off call for a new payroll project for employees based in Ireland.

Throughout all of this I still answered any queries or escalations from my team while responding to email queries and the occasional phone call too. 

Working in such a large international organisation gives me the chance to be involved in a lot of things at all different levels from clarifying queries about policies through to attending global meetings with my counterparts in different countries to help streamline and align process. I am also a mental health first aider at work, a role which I find really important and am really pleased that the place I work for recognises the need for. 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

You are replaceable. Whilst I realise that does not sound encouraging, I think it’s important to remember to keep a work life balance, which is one of the reasons I left the first company I worked for to move into a nearly identical role somewhere else. That’s not to say you shouldn’t  work hard and go above and beyond where possible and practical, but also know how to say no and when to ask for help. In the long term it will help build connections, show how reliable you are and also ensure you hit agreed deadlines, whilst helping you maintain boundaries and also have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. 

Hannah Kinney-SpencerWe Are (Third Width)


“Do something you are interested in. It sounds obvious but don’t get sucked into something just for the money or because you think it is the right thing to do. Work involves repetition and we are also going to be working for a very long time, so I think finding something you are passionate about and that you want to do well in is key to any successful career.”