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.


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.


Jacqueline Swift 
Associate colleague at The Personnel Partnership

Jacqui is an associate colleague at The Personnel Partnership and provides support with client-employee relations and employment law issues.  

Jacqui qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and initially worked in clinical negligence and assisted in ad hoc employment matters. 

In 2012, Jacqui left the private sector to pursue her passion for employment law and decided to venture into the HR and employment law consultancy world. Jacqui has worked with a multitude of businesses, in sectors including legal and accountancy firms, GP practices, manufacturing, childcare providers, care sector, IT and security.  

Jacqui has a true passion for helping businesses thrive by supporting their operational and people management needs. She cites strong client relationships as the backbone of a successful partnership and strives to provide straightforward, actionable advice that delivers results.  

Outside of work, Jacqui loves to play tennis and explore the great outdoors with her husband Daniel, son Teddy, and their dog, Bruno. 

What was your first job?  

My first job was a waitress in a pub near our village when I was 16.  

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

When I was doing my training contract as a trainee solicitor, I was always early and one morning one of the senior partners came into the kitchen when I was trying to make a coffee, but there was no milk.  

He looked at me laughing and said when he started out, he quickly realised that if he really wanted to get his caffeine in the morning, he would need to drink black coffee. Not white coffee, not black coffee with sugar or sweetener, just black coffee – since that morning, I have switched and have never been out of coffee since – I need my coffee!  

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



Rachel Priestley
Personal assistant to the founder of The Personnel Partnership

Starting her professional career over 20 years ago in the NHS apprenticeship scheme, Rachel quickly worked her way up the ranks, developing her administration skills and eventually becoming a business manager and executive assistant to a chief executive and a chairman.

Throughout her time in the NHS, process-driven Rachel managed a team of 14 personal assistants and administrators, and developed a varied skillset including office management, staff management, HR, governance and risk, team leadership, project management, and health and safety.

Citing communications and organisation as the pillars of her career, in 2017 Rachel took the leap and became self-employed, setting up her own virtual assistant business.

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and getting out into the great outdoors!

What was your first job?

My first job was in the NHS apprenticeship scheme working as a junior administrator. I learnt so much in my time as an apprentice and from the people that I worked with, it has set me on the path I’m on today!

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

A chief executive I once worked with said “You can always come to me with a problem, but come with a solution as well”.

That has stuck with me and taught me to use the skills and knowledge effectively to resolve issues and challenges. It’s about autonomy and having the confidence to use that autonomy, developing that relationship where I can think on my bosses or clients’ behalf and solve problems without having to interrupt their day.

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

Spaghetti hoops on toast, with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top.

In 2012 I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks for Alzheimer’s Society with my sister-in-law, and the only thing that got me through the last four miles was thinking spaghetti hoops on toast and a bath at the end of it!


Get in touch and have a chat with us.