How I got where I am today: Elaine Masson

What did you want to be when you were young?
A vet I have always loved animals but the careers advisor at school told me it wasn’t a suitable job for a woman. Thankfully, times have changed
What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
After leaving university, I worked in Glasgow before deciding to move to London to work in HR for Sainsbury’s. The experience and training I gained at one of the UK’s biggest retailers was invaluable and working in London for a few years was great fun. I loved the buzz of the big city – I think it’s something everybody should do at some point.

I joined Empire in 2002 as I was looking for an HR consultancy role, and worked as an employment law advisor before training as a mediator in 2011. Helping clients with employment issues is really rewarding. I assisted with performance management, misconduct issues, grievances, sickness absence, maternity and paternity queries, re-organisation and more. Employment law can be complicated to work your way through so I enjoyed being able to help clients see the wood for the trees.

I became interested in mediation after advising on employment disputes – which can be both upsetting and costly for both parties. Research has shown that we all have 4000 arguments with work colleagues over a lifetime and small disagreements can unwittingly escalate. Early mediation can be beneficial to both employers and employees. Both parties are given the opportunity to explain the issues calmly before working with the mediator and each other to find a solution.

Hopefully, the aim of mediation is that both parties walk away happy and able to work side by side. But even if that isn’t the end result, at least both parties will have had their chance to gain an understanding of each other and identify what they really want.

Elaine Masson

Anything you would do differently?
I would like to have done a law degree, as I am really interested in the analytical side of employment law. I love to learn and so enjoy keeping up to date with the latest changes.
Are you scared of making mistakes?
No – it’s how you learn.
Who's been your greatest influence?
Strangely, my children. Being a parent forces you learn new skills such as empathy, understanding and appreciating that everyone has their own unique path in life

Best achievement so far?
I design and deliver training courses in HR and employment law, which I really enjoy. It is great to be able to share your knowledge and I love difficult questions.
As a registered member of the Scottish Mediation Network, I undergo regular training as part of a Continuous Professional Development Programme. At this stage in my career, I am really proud that I am still developing my skills further and looking forward. I have a job which is satisfying and gives me the opportunity to grow. I have worked hard to achieve that.
What's your idea of the perfect retirement?
Travelling around Europe in a luxury motor home with my husband and a personal chef
What have you actively tried to avoid in your career?
Negative people – they don’t do you any good. I try to surround myself with positive, encouraging and happy people
What would your autobiography be called?
I won’t back down (from the Tom Petty 80s classic)
What's the best way to motivate others?
By enjoying your job yourself. If you are enthusiastic and creative that rubs off on other people.

Your favourite stress-buster?
Reading – I am a big fan of crime novels. The gorier the better. And walking my dog, Otto.

What's your best career advice?  
Be prepared to take every single opportunity that comes your way. I am proud that I took risks to develop my career. You are more likely to regret what you didn’t do that what you did
What's your dream job?
I love to cook so if I could have Mary Berry’s job as a Great British Bake Off judge that would be good.

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