<> About Me

Ann O'Neill (Chartered MCIPD)

  • Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development (UK)
  • Over 25 years experience in HR and business
  • Proven track record as  Head of HR and independent HR Consultant 
  • BA (Hons) in Law and Information Systems and postgraduate qualifications in Labour Studies

"We have been working with Ann from Inside Edge HR for a number of years now. I cannot express how valuable this service has been to us. With the complexity of employing staff and the emotions that can be involved, Inside Edge HR have offered clear advice and guidance. As a small business owner having this access has been invaluable. Ensuring that we are always acting in the best interest for our business and staff, at all times. "

Carolyne Cross
Managing Director / Principal. Omni Beauty Academy

"Ann is a highly effective and professional practitioner, able to develop strategic thinking whilst focussing on practical solutions to achieve business objectives. She delivers on the most challenging assignments building strong relationships along the way. Having worked with Ann I also saw her successfully develop her own business and this combination of HR know how and hands on experience as a business owner is a real strength."

Adam Furse
Head of Organisaional Development at Wateraid

"I worked with Ann for a number of years at City and Guilds and always found her to be a great pragmatic problem solver. She has a real talent to assess the business needs and then help determine solutions that were the best course of action. Above all I always felt that Ann could be trusted with confidential information. Ann’s has a great work ethic and commits time and effort when supporting other within the business."

Simon Mercer
Non Executive Director at CQM Training and Consultancy Ltd

"Working with Inside edge HR has added value to us as a growing company. During our experience over the past 4 years with Ann we have always witnessed a high sense of efficiency, commitment and dedication. We have reached a point that we can truly rely on her vision and passion to support the short- and long-term time goals of our ever-increasing business growth."

Matthew De Souza
General Manager, Farnborough Van & Truck Hire

"Ann has provided a fabulous service to our Company for several years. Helpful, concise advice, a calming influence in a sometimes stressful environment.”"

Gerry Masterson
Managing Director / AVT

"At a time where no-one had experienced anything like the COVID -19 emergency Ann was our lifeline. She supported us by email, phone & explained exactly how to manage the process which was new to us all. Kind and considerate. Always professional."

Richard Caddle
Managing Director / Aquaneed

"Ann is one of the best things to happen to my business. Not only offers me great HR support but there are a host of other skills that she brings to my business. Ann guides you through the laws but is also a sounding board to new ideas that you may want to introduce. Having ran her own business with staff before Ann knows the worries of business owners first hand."

John Halliwell
Director / Transgas Services

My Journey to becoming your HR Business Growth Partner

I started my career in HR more than 25 years ago with the goal of wanting to make a positive impact on the 'people side' of business.

I then quickly discovered there was a common reaction towards the 'HR function' - similar to the ones you see at the airport when all the flights have been cancelled and the bar is closed!

So, here are the five key steps in my life journey, that led me to where I am today .... enjoying what I do

The Early Years

Things didn’t feel like they were going quite to plan. I  quickly became disillusioned by Boardroom tactics and had discovered the irony that the more I was promoted, for some reason the more I disliked the actual job.  I was happier when I worked at the ‘ground level’, working directly with managers and ‘getting things done’. 

So, not really knowing what to do next with my life, I became a fully paid up member of the 'Clueless Club' and went off in search of the meaning of life.

STEP  1:     Resign from the day job and go travelling!

My short-lived relationship with David Attenborough

There I was, taking my 'gap year' in my mid 30s, randomly crossing South America with my brand new back pack & squeaky clean walking boots. Overall, I think its safe to say that the first outing of my GCSE in Spanish was only outdone by the daily confirmation that I had absolutely no sense of direction without a tube map. I waited patiently for the clouds to part, the shining light to appear & for David Attenborough's calming voiceover to tell me how I could help people save the planet.  It didn’t happen. 

STEP 2:     Get a flight back home

Taking the Leap 

Next came that 'life changer', perhaps better known as one of those 'well, it seemed like a really good idea at the time' points. I took ‘the leap’.  I was an HR ‘bod’ after all and could recruit people myself.  I also really needed to do something meaningful. So, I set up and ran a Care Agency, supporting the elderly in their own homes, eventually employing 40 staff.

Timing, as they say, is everything. This brainwave was put in motion just in time for the financial crisis. Banks were pulling support and serviced offices were being given 48 hours’ notice of the lights being switched off …… or was that just mine??  

It quickly became 24/7 worry. And, initially, it was a pretty lonely experience. 

STEP 3:     Adopt a mantra. Quick. 'There is ALWAYS a Way'  

The Parachute Landing  

I found 'the way' and eventually sold the business successfully despite the challenges.  I then reflected.  I learned a lot from running a business and knowing so many others in the same boat:

  • The SME sector is driven by hardworking and often hardworrying business owners. Flying 'solo' ;
  • There's no guaranteed, ‘self-refilling’ money bucket. It's also the same bucket that needs to cover your business AND personal life;
  • To allow anyone ‘in’ to provide support, demands a very high level of trust and respect;
  • The only people who will genuinely understand your situation – are other Business Owners.

Finally, my personal favourite:

I developed a really serious allergy towards the word ‘CAN’T’. I only wanted to be told what I ‘CAN’ do.

STEP 4:     Never tell another Business Owner they can't do something 

So .... it was time to:

Champion the Business Owner !

Following my own personal experience, and becoming increasingly aware of the experiences of others, there's one thing I became absolutely passionate about:  Support for the Owners of Small Businesses.

And so, I had a dawning realisation, still not via David Attenborough from a cloud I hasten to add, but still a dawning realisation. I was determined to support the SME sector and my way of doing this would be to help growing businesses overcome the 'people issues' as a qualified HR professional.

Perhaps most importantly, I now had the ‘cherry on the top’, as I'd been a Business Owner myself, able to fully relate to what it's really like running a small business with staff.

Today, this enables me to deliver the style of HR support I believe is really needed in the SME sector.

If you've taken your own 'leap' of faith, dealing with all the challenges 'solo', and are still managing to hold on to your personal relationships and your sense of humour - you already have my greatest respect and admiration.

The priority for me, is to stop your own HR 'function' making you feel like its beating you over the head with those 'Legal Hammers' and leaving you in isolated moments feeling that you're just 'getting it wrong'.

To listen, understand your pressures and support you to grow.

This is where the journey really begins...

And so, here I am, finally, having a positive impact on the 'people side' of business.  HR in the SME world is where I feel I really 'fit' and can make a big difference.

I've  worked across a varied range of sectors now from trades, beauty, training providers, professional services, IT, vehicle hire & maintenance, airline support, telecoms, retail, construction and many others.

I work directly with Business Owners, just like you, who are determined to grow their business and simply need an external ‘people' partner they trust to share the highs and lows along the way.

It’s been great to see the growth in businesses but also the confidence of Business Owners, knowing they have someone on their side who never judges them on how they react to situations or tells them they ‘can’t’ do something (!)

And yes, a mutual sense of humour now and then helps life along.

But, that’s enough about me for the moment. I hope this has given you an insight into the journey that led me to creating Inside Edge HR and my passion for helping small business owners grow their business without the people-related growing pains.

And so together, we've arrived at Step 5 in my journey of enjoying what I do, a step which could help you grow and enjoy your business more in the future...

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