Portrait picture of Karen Obrien
Experienced People

Karen O'Brien

Human Resources Business Partner

Human Resources, UK

After carving out a successful career in human resources, Karen is now using her experience and qualifications to help people at Mace to develop and achieve their own professional goals.

How did you get into what you do?

I started off working for a large multinational company and spent a few years learning about all the different departments and specialisms. I began to gravitate towards Human Resources, or ‘Personnel’ as it was then. I found it really interesting and eventually moved companies and studied for a CIPD [Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development] qualification at the same time.


I joined Mace in 2013 as an HR business partner and I currently work with the construction side of the business.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

My role is to work closely with senior leaders to develop people agendas that support the delivery of business plans. By that I mean that I coach and advise leaders on talent management, performance management, reward, employee relations, health/wellbeing, employee engagement and resourcing. I love the exposure it gives me to work with such a diverse range of people and the fact that I get to be a part of helping the business grow.

What skills do you need to be good at your job?

The ability to build relationships, communicate, remain independent and not be afraid to challenge.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
I would advise anyone to get a CIPD qualification, but experience is even more important. You need to be able to communicate and be credible with those who you work with - you can’t learn that from a text book. 
What are you passionate about outside of work?

I love photography. I’ve taught myself and just do it for fun but there’s something about being outside, photographing landscapes that I find really relaxing.


I also enjoy playing golf - I took it up just over a year ago. And dancing - I used to go to Len Goodman’s dance school as a child. Now I just dance when I go out for the night. I’m known for being the first one on the dance floor.

If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
I like to think I would have been an archaeologist for no other reason other than I think it would be fascinating.
Portrait picture of Karen Obrien

“I love the exposure [my job] gives me to work with such a diverse range of people and the fact that I get to be a part of helping the business grow.”