Business

For Terri it's about putting people before process

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Terri Johnston, chief people officer at Fibrus

What was your first job?

I spent a summer on the information desk at Belfast International Airport after finishing my A-Levels. I've never lost that love of talking to people and hearing their stories, as well as proudly telling them about our home.

What qualifications do you have?

After studying law at Queen's and a spell in sales, I built my HR experience by working in the precision medicine, telecoms and technology sectors. Each gave me different insights into styles of working, styles of leadership and how best results can be achieved.

What do you attribute your success to?

It's simple: I love what I do, I care about people and I get a real kick from helping them to be their best. A very proud moment was mentoring a new HR generalist from the start of their career and helping them towards their current role of assistant director. I plan to give that same support to the team at Fibrus. What could be more rewarding than that?

How would you describe yourself to someone who'd never met you?

Someone once described me as the most authentic leader they had worked with and it remains the most meaningful compliment in work I've ever received. Ultimately, being authentic to who you are just lets your work to do the talking.

Who do you look up to in business?

In a sales role before my HR career I encountered Tony Bennett, then chairman of Going Places, and his leadership has stuck with me ever since. He was the first leader I ever saw to be truly passionate about his work and people, he saw and nurtured talent in me that I didn't know I had and he's a Derry man to boot!

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

This is exactly what I am here to do at Fibrus. Ultimately, I want to make sure people have the tools they need to do great work and the environment to grow professionally. This often means putting people before process, but sometimes a better process creates a real improvement for everyone too.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

I think it is vital that business leaders stop talking about employee wellbeing and start doing hard work on themselves personally to bring welfare to life in every decision. It's an investment in a business but true employee wellbeing takes self-awareness, challenging decisions and a tough look at management culture.

What website or app could you not do without?

The Headspace mindfulness app helps keep the right balance between working hard and switching off. You really can't have the former without the latter - not for long anyway.

What was the last book you read?

'No News at Throat Lake' by Lawrence Donegan, a book about an English writer exploring his Donegal family connections. I married into Donegal roots too, so it has been fascinating.

What car do you drive?

In our house, we have a soft spot for elderly oddities car-wise, so it changes all the time when one breaks!

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I'm a keen baker, a long-term staycation addict and recently discovered metal detecting as a fascinating excuse to spend hours on the beach.

What's your greatest passion outside work and family?

My greatest passion is probably this wee place we all call home. I could happily explore every corner of Northern Ireland and still never become tired of it.

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Business