Career Ladder: Claire Owen, HR Manager

Career Ladder: Claire Owen, HR Manager at Birmingham Royal Ballet

Claire Owens headshot

Claire Owen, HR Manager, Birmingham Royal Ballet 

Date Published: 26 September 2018

Tell us about your early life. What were your goals and dreams?

Maybe not a surprise - I studied Ballet from the age of 5, so my first ambition was to be a Ballerina. I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School but was unsuccessful and at that point, dancing became a hobby along with acting, singing and some choreography in the local am-dram society for many years. For one season I choreographed and performed as a cheerleader for Gloucester Rugby Club - cannot top an audience of 12,000!

Home for me is in Gloucester, where I have grown up and currently live, commuting to the day job in Birmingham.

Talk us through your career journey. What were the influential periods, or experiences?

After A ‘Levels I joined a local insurance company, Ecclesiastical Insurance where I worked in many roles for 26 years. 24 of those in HR, starting in payroll then personnel, working my way up the ladder to roles such as HR Operations Manager and HR Business Partner for UK and Ireland. I took a voluntary redundancy option in 2014 and took a year off work. In 2015 I started at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. 

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

The development of others. I have been lucky to lead teams and work with many line managers on their own leadership skills. I am proud to have worked with and supported colleagues on their development/careers. Seeing people grow personally and professionally before your eyes is the best feeling ever. The moment that penny drops and they start doing something differently is priceless. My core value is making a difference, when that happens it is a good day.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on the integration of a new HR system into Birmingham Royal Ballet along with integrating General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislative changes. Moving forward I will be looking at developing our apprenticeship offering as well as diversity and inclusion. Ongoing, I work with my colleagues on developing their skills and behaviours, hopefully making a difference.  


  • High School for Girls, Gloucester – O ’levels/A ‘levels 1981 - 1988
  • University of Gloucestershire – Postgraduate Diploma in HRM 1996-98


  • HR Manager, Birmingham Royal Ballet,  2015 to date
  • Ecclesiastical Insurance

- Various HR/Insurance roles 1988 - 1997

- HR Operations Manager 2000 - 2009

- HR Business Partner (UK and Ireland) 2009 - 2014

  • Voluntary work, Young Gloucestershire
- Board/trustee 2000 - 2015
- HR Adviser – 2000 to date


Life Lessons

1.      Have fun – we are at work for a long time, so it is important to have fun and do what makes you happy.  Also, if you have the power to make someone else happy, do it, the world needs more of that.

2.       Keep perspective in life. Some people take work stuff too seriously. Loved ones and your health (both physical and mental) need to take priority.

3.       Be kind to yourself (I say this a lot!) So much pressure is put on us by ourselves, others and, the world in general. Breathe, smile, and be grateful for what you have in that moment.

Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence. Photo: Lachlan Monaghan
Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photo: Lachlan Monaghan
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Covent Garden

+44 (0)20 7557 6700

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"UK Theatre" is the operating name of UK Theatre Association, a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, whose registered office is at 32 Rose Street, London, WC2E 9ET, Company No 323204.