Martine Robins - International HR Director to local HR Franchise owner

“I think I should have made the leap sooner. I felt that now might be my last chance - not to start a business because you can always do that - but to start a business that you can grow into something that is sustainable - this is my focus.”

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Overview of earlier career.

A 3 decade career within international technology, engineering and manufacturing corporates.  Two daughters (now teenagers) who grew up with a mum who commuted across Europe constantly.

Trigger for change?

Martine felt that corporate life had changed dramatically in that it seemed to her that political goals had begun to over-shadow people goals - which is where her passion lies.  Also, her rapidly approaching 50th birthday had prompted deep reflection across all areas of life.  Her conclusion from this reflection was that she needed to take control of her career and indeed her fitness.  All the travelling had taken its toll on her body so she embarked on a very successful personal fitness transformation involving numerous HIIT sessions a week and a simultaneous career overhaul.

First steps?

Martine began researching the local competitor market for independent HR businesses and discovered that the market appeared fairly saturated.  She made the personal decision that being truly independent (i.e. a sole trader in a competitive market) was too risky.  She then began a detailed investigation into a franchise opportunity which would offer a little more support in terms of marketing/websites etc but would still allow her to run her own business in line with her own values – this was a non-negotiable element of her new career choice. She found The HR Dept that ticked all the right boxes.

What Martine discovered?

A key discovery for Martine during her career reflections was that she had “missed learning new things” and she also felt that she had “become a little detached from HR on the ground” and missed that connection.   Her mantra had always been that HR should “educate and communicate” so she designed her business in a way that she gets to work with individuals who realise they need AND want her help and advice.  To be able to do this gives her great satisfaction.  

What she would do differently?

I think I should have made the leap sooner.  I had toyed with the idea when the girls were younger but discounted it for various reasons.  It felt too uncertain."

“We can talk ourselves out of doing these things very easily.  What-ifs can be very off-putting” especially if we only consider the negative possibilities.   

“I felt that now might be my last chance - not to start a business because you can always do that - but to start a business that you can grow into something that is sustainable - this is my focus.” 

I look back now and imagine how much bigger and better my business would be if I had started it then. However, not being one to look back but only looking forward, I realised that the sooner I started my business the sooner I would start to realise my goal and be able to work to my own agenda.”

How it feels on the days when Martine knows that she has made the right decision?

“When a client who has recognised that they needed help, takes my advice and experiences a positive outcome and then thanks me, I wish I could bottle that feeling and sprinkle it around the world!” 

“I feel like I am helping people who need my help and those people also appreciate what I do.  It gives me great satisfaction. It’s a win win.”


Martine admitted that she does miss the big benefits package but this also acts as a motivator to want to succeed in her own business.  More importantly, knowing “the positive effect on her ‘work/life’ balance has been priceless”.  This is borne out by the story of a conversation with her eldest daughter who mentioned that she loves Mum working from home.  Martine explained that her business was in growth phase and when that young business is big enough she would expand into premises away from the home office.  Her daughter pleaded “Promise me you will not go back to constant travelling”.  “No fancy benefits package will ever compensate me for the time I am having with my children since starting my own business. As well as having help local businesses.”

Martine Robins – The HR Department, Woking

Martine Robins is an HR expert gained from many years in corporate HR.  In 2016, she decided to set up her own company offering support and advice to SMEs in Woking and surrounding areas of Addlestone, West/East Horsley, Ripley, Lightwater and Byfleet.

Previously, Martine worked in the Woking area for nearly ten years and wanted to get back to working with local business owners who had a plan and a vision but not necessarily the resources to help put their people strategies in place.  Being able to use her knowledge and skills to help local businesses is where Martine looks to add real value.  She does this in a practical and flexible way so business owners get the support they really need for their business.

Martine is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD).

Contact Martine:  The HR Dept, Woking


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