Meet the Team

helen straw

Helen Straw
Founder of The Personnel Partnership and chartered corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

Helen has vast and wide-ranging experience of dealing with strategic and operational HR issues, having worked in both public and private sector roles before establishing The Personnel Partnership in 2001.

Working with clients as a partner in every respect, Helen takes a practical, informative and, above all, commercial approach to their issues. She works closely with businesses to develop new options and ideas to enable them to resolve any HR or learning development dilemmas.

She is proud to develop and deliver a range of effective learning and development solutions to a wide range of clients, from SMEs to blue chip companies.

As a self-confessed morning person, Helen is highly motivated and brings positive energy to all she does.

With her family, she loves to spend time in the great outdoors, exploring National Trust properties such as the beautiful Fountains Abbey as well as gems closer to home, such as Magdale in Honley, an area of outstanding beauty that boasts a stunning dam set amid woodland.

What was your first job?

My mum and dad owned a newsagent’s shop and I used to fill up the sweet counters, dust, arrange the magazines on the shelves and so on.  I was probably about six and was rewarded with a chocolate bar and a magazine to read. I eventually graduated to being the Saturday Girl and had a paper round – although there were only about a dozen deliveries and my round included a stop-off at my grandparents’ house for orange juice and chocolate cake!

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

Never underestimate the true worth and value of your skills, experience and knowledge. This has stood me in really good stead throughout my business life. Also, I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes – working in HR, I deal with some pretty awful stuff from time to time and I never forget what the other person must be feeling.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Can I choose cake?! Failing that, a Sunday roast (I’m especially proud of my Yorkshire puddings!) or fish pie.


Julie Sykes
Associate colleague at The Personnel Partnership and Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Julie is an associate colleague at The Personnel Partnership and has more than 25 years’ experience in the world of HR.

With specialist knowledge of employee relations, Julie has worked with organisations of all sizes to resolve individual and group issues, from discipline and grievance to restructures and acquisitions. Julie has worked in organisations with and without unions and has particular experience in manufacturing and engineering environments.

A keen runner, Julie also enjoys tennis and travelling – in fact she crossed the border between Red Rose County and White! As a proud Lancastrian, her favourite local beauty spot is the Trough of Bowland. (For the uninitiated it’s a valley and high pass that reaches almost 1,000ft above sea level.)

What was your first job?

A personnel admin assistant at Norweb Electricity.

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

If you can dream it, you can do it.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I can’t imagine any meal that I would want to eat for the rest of my life! I could live on fresh fruit and veg though.

Kate Booth
Associate solicitor and associate member of the CIPD

As an associate of The Personnel Partnership, Kate advises clients on employment law and the most practical ways to manage their risks when dealing with tricky employee issues. Providing a good client experience is vital to Kate, who advises on all aspects of HR at both strategic and operational level.

Kate qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and spent over a decade as a specialist in employment law, regularly dealing with everything from drafting contracts and policies to handling employment tribunal claims. In 2018, she moved away from the traditional law environment to work as a partner for SME clients without an in-house HR team but who require practical solutions to their employee concerns.

In her spare time, Kate enjoys jogging – especially in the summer when she has been known to squeeze in a run before work! Rather than a headache-inducing dance music playlist, Kate prefers to work out to audio books and true crime podcasts.

What was your first job?

When I was 14, I lived in a village in North Yorkshire and had a job on a mushroom farm. I spent my Saturday mornings in large dimly lit sheds, picking out any mushrooms that looked a bit spotty or slimy. I avoided eating mushrooms for about 25 years after that.

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

When I was doing work experience with a law firm, the solicitor I was shadowing told me to learn to touch type. As a trainee solicitor, I was constantly dealing with short deadlines, but at the back of the queue for any secretarial support: being able to do my own typing, at speed, made me so much more efficient and it has remained so useful to me.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is a difficult decision. I love food and I’m not sure I could settle on one dish to eat every day… I think I would have to go with my mum’s macaroni cheese.

Suzi Stevenson
PA to Helen Straw

As PA to Helen Straw, Suzi’s excellent organisational skills are key to keeping the office running smoothly.

With more than 20 years’ admin experience, Suzi previously managed a business centre where she organised events for clients including the police, Disability Rights Commission and the Welsh Assembly.

A keen walker, Suzi can often be found at her favourite spot, Beningbrough Hall near York. The walled gardens and charming house with its impressive art collection are the perfect place for her to switch off from the buzz of office life – and from technology – with her family.

What was your first job?

A weekend job working as a waitress in a hotel – I earned £1.75 an hour!

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

Find the balance between work and the important stuff: family, friends and life. At work, trust your instincts and be proud of what you achieve.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Definitely roast chicken – winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Get in touch and have a chat with us.