Totum’s Rising Star Awards ran for it’s third year in 2024, recognising the best of upcoming talent in HR, marketing and business development and finance. We spoke with this year’s HR winner and highly commended rising stars, to learn about their career aspirations and recognition from their firms.

People and HR operations are increasingly at the centre of effective business, building organisational culture, streamlining processes and future-proofing skills. Totum’s Rising Star Awards 2024 recognises the best of upcoming talent in the sector, with an impressive array of nominations.

However, our two winners stood out for their ability to effectively engage with colleagues of all levels, manage new and existing ESG projects and become indispensable team members. Here’s what our future HR stars in the legal sector have to say.

Winner: Jordan Troops, HR Advisor, Addleshaw Goddard

Jordan Troops has come a long way since joining Addleshaw Goddard in 2022 as an HR Advisor supporting its real estate practice. His enthusiasm, drive and ability to juggle a busy workload made his nomination stand out to our judges – but it is the way he is able to build relationships and relate to stakeholders at all levels that really marks him out as a winner.

Consider this testimonial on Jordan from an Addleshaw Goddard partner: “Jordan is incredibly empathetic – a real people person – and he gets his tone absolutely spot on. He has a great manner, is friendly, approachable and can explain complex things without jargon, meaning that he is great to work with.”

“I’ve always been interested in the people aspects of business ever since I did my business degree at university,” admits Jordan.

“That meant I explored options around HR early on during university and worked at another law firm in my first HR role. Working in HR for a law firm isn’t for everyone, but I love it. After exploring a couple of other sectors, I knew that I wanted to get back into a law firm and Addleshaw Goddard was the perfect opportunity,” he adds.

Jordan’s time at the firm has seen him lead on key HR projects for the firm, such as last year’s practising certificate renewal process for Scotland, as well as social mobility programmes within the Real Estate group.

He also managed the analysis and follow-up action planning of the firm’s 2023 inclusion survey in the real estate and business development teams, presenting his findings at partner meetings and to the leadership teams. Jordan approached this analysis by really trying to get under the skin of the survey results through individual testimonials and experiences.

“You can use the survey results to tell you where you are as an organisation, but if you don’t have insight from people telling you about their experiences with examples, your interventions are limited. Within real estate we used both the survey data along with anecdotal feedback through employee forums to inform our diversity and inclusion strategy,” he says.

Jordan is also heavily involved in the firm’s commitment to enhancing career development opportunities. He supported Addleshaw Goddard’s transition from one appraisal system to another, examined how the firm could encourage better career conversations, and also created a new career page about how to contribute and develop at Addleshaw Goddard.

When it comes to his own career, Jordan has aspirations to progress within the HR Business Partnering team this year.

“Addleshaw Goddard is a really forward-looking business with ambitious growth plans and with that comes career development opportunities for everyone. I’ve worked with our HR Managers over the past year to talk about my future aspirations and this has opened up doors for me to work in different parts of the business that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to. This has provided me with work and projects that have challenged and stretched me,” he says.

Winning the Rising Stars award provides recognition and confirmation that he is on the right path – even if Jordan didn’t expect to be announced as the winner.

Building confidence in expressing your opinions and expertise is something that all those looking to grow should do – and that firms should encourage. Jordan feels that Addleshaw Goddard has offered him a voice at the table from the start.

“I was particularly alive to the fact that I hadn’t worked in a law firm for a few years before joining AG, so questioned whether my voice and ideas were going to be heard. From day one I have felt like I have a voice at AG and that my input on key projects has been valued. I would recommend to anyone starting out in HR to not be scared to voice your opinion, as discussion on different perspectives is often welcomed,” smiles Jordan.

Highly Commended: April Hyman, HR Policy and Compliance Advisor, Squire Patton Boggs

April Hyman joined Squire Patton Boggs in 2018 as an HR Assistant, before moving into an HR Policy and Compliance Assistant role in 2021. She was promoted to an HR Policy and Compliance Advisor role in January 2023 and has continuously updated and developed her skills during her time with the firm, completing both her CIPD Level 5 apprenticeship and her Data Protection and GDPR Certificate in 2022.

“I’ve been very lucky in working here and my development has been supported every step of the way. The culture here has helped me grow and want to stay,” says April.

“I started my CIPD Level 5 apprenticeship in 2019, but found out I was pregnant in the middle of it. Then, I broke my ankle and had to have surgery. You have to remember that this was pre-pandemic, so remote working wasn’t the done thing, but Squire Patton Boggs were so supportive in allowing me to work the way I needed. It was great to feel fully supported – it makes a huge difference,” she adds.

The respect for April’s abilities and achievements is mutual. In nominating her for the Rising Star award, her manager Claire Edwards lauded the impact April has made on her team since joining as ‘outstanding’, praising her high standards, teamwork and thirst for knowledge.

April’s achievements include working in the team that achieved the firm’s recent EcoVadis bronze award, which provides organisations with sustainability and ethical scores. Before the work of April’s team, the firm was ranked on the 35th percentile, but the latest submission moved it into the 50th percentile, achieving a bronze award.

Despite her main focus being around compliance and HR policy, such as GDPR compliance, immigration work and associated processes for HR, April has always had a keen interest in ESG matters and volunteered her time to the firm’s ESG manager.

“I think ESG and HR go hand-in-hand. The environmental factor is huge, of course, but the social and governance angle is also so important. The bit behind this is about how we build structures to make our work sustainable. It’s also a big issue for our clients going forward,” she says.

The past year has also seen April introduce weekly market intelligence reports, so that the HR team is aware of what their competitors are doing, manage the introduction of a name pronunciation field as part of the firm’s onboarding programme, and be assigned as a Home Office Sponsorship Level One User.

So, did her nomination as a Rising Star come as a surprise?

“I was thrilled. For my manager to take the time to write the submission, speak to other team members about my work – it shocked me, but I was very much over the moon,” she smiles.

Her subsequent Highly Commended award saw April receive recognition from her office managing partner, with the subsequent congratulatory emails, fizz and cards leaving her feeling emotional.

“It’s so nice to feel recognised for the work you do. People are proud of me and I feel proud of myself. I’m already thinking of colleagues I can put forward next year to be nominated,” she says.