Rachel Davis moves to consultancy role after 22 years at RPC
Many of you know and have worked with Rachel over the years, a much loved colleague to the People team but also to all those in the business she has given support to in her HR role. Here's just some of the wonderful things you have said to describe Rachel: kind, warm, caring, brilliant, top-notch, oracle, hilarious, wise, unwaveringly positive, funny and a joy to be around. A friend for life.
Rachel first came to London in 1990 from her family home in Yorkshire. Having studied Geography at Brunel University and following a year's business diploma in 1994 she got her first job in London at a Japanese bank in Broadgate Circle as a Personnel Administrator supporting the Director (HR was called Personnel back then!). At interview, the Director was told to come down and meet Rachel as she would be perfect for the job but the only problem was her Yorkshire accent and this would have to go if she wanted to get anywhere in her career! She worked at the bank for six years and whilst there achieved her CIPD qualification. She then went travelling around Asia and India for four months and returned to London to work for Edwin Coe in Lincoln's Inn Fields covering a six month sabbatical for their HR Manager, her first exposure to law firms!
At the end of the six month contract followed two job offers, one from RPC and one from Dentons. Rachel was interviewed by Sally Andrews (the then HR Director) and Valerie Bowles (then Practice Director), and here our story begins as Rachel joins RPC as a HR Manager to provide HR support to both business services and the secretarial teams. At that time there were only around 250 people at RPC based in our offices in Holborn (Chichester House) and our insurance team in Leadenhall Street. Rachel describes the offices as very old fashioned, with lawyers sitting in their own office and secretaries sitting in banks outside. The library was in the middle of the office on the ground floor and this was where all the RPC socials happened - in the library, the smell of cigarettes and alcohol the following morning after a social is another story!
Rachel found her first few weeks at RPC tough and thought she might have made a mistake "they put me in the equivalent of a broom cupboard" she says "it was not plain sailing" but, after that, she never looked back.
Happy memories of Torts Wine Bar as the RPC late night haunt and Courts on Chancery Lane. The Penderels Oak was the pub next door to Chichester House – a classy Wetherspoons – and here fond memories of watching the World Cup at 8am and going to work after the match – a little worse for wear!
HR Manager for business services and secretaries and managing the float secretarial team was followed by a projects role working with Clint Evans and Sunita Devi (who is now the firm's resident Yoga teacher!). She was then promoted to Head Of People Operations where Rachel has spent the last eight years or so on the operational side of HR advising on benefits, systems, policies and processes.
"Rachel has been the lynchpin of the People team for as long as anybody can remember. She has been an unwavering support to me and the wider team since I joined the firm and puts the "can do" into "can do attitude". There is literally no task too difficult or bizarre for Rachel to deal with and she leaves big shoes to fill (as well as an enormous handover document!). I wish Rachel all the best in her new adventures." Rachel Street
After 22 years Rachel has now sought a lifestyle change and leaves full time employment but continues to work for us in a part time consultancy role for a little while. She is currently handing over 22 years of knowledge to our new People Ops Lead, Carrie-Ann Odlum, who joined us on 8 January "my handover document is a beast" Rachel said.
Rachel's favourite part of the job is working with people – resolving their queries and finding solutions.
"There are some incredibly lovely people at RPC – that's the constant, there always has been – we take it for granted when you're here but when you talk to others who have just joined the firm, you realise we have something really special here".
The biggest change at RPC for Rachel was the move to Tower Bridge House in 2006 when the firm went open plan. This had its challenges for the HR team, often dealing with confidential matters. However it was ground breaking at the time and other law firms came to see how we had done it "we were the pioneers into open plan, some were nervous but it was the best thing that happened and really helped collaboration". The recent pandemic was particularly challenging too, with HR policies and processes being reinvented overnight. Other challenges over the years include advising employees in our Tiverton office back in 2008 that the office would be closing and making the float team redundant "you need compassion and to put yourself in their shoes. What would I want someone to say to me if I were in their position?" she says.
"It really does feel a lifetime ago when we both started at RPC in a very different time and era for the firm. But some things remain constant and that is that over the years she has literally been the heart and soul of the People team – the person you went to for guidance, sage advice, a reality check and a trusted colleague you could always rely on to help you put things into perspective. But she has also been so much more than that – the social adviser, style adviser and life adviser. And just a really great friend to us all – she will be very much missed!" Kate Gregg
Rachel is currently renting in a place called Burton Waters, just outside Lincoln before buying a house. "It's a marina development with restaurants, wine bars and nice walks – what more could you want?!" Her husband has recently bought a boat which is moored at the bottom of their garden - "feels like a little bit of St Katherines dock has followed me to Lincoln". They have worked out she could get to RPC in three/four days in their boat, travelling down the River Trent, across The Wash, little bit of the North Sea and into the River Thames. Don't forget to wave to Rachel in her little motor cruiser if you happen to see her in St Katharine Docks one day!
Rachel and Bradley live with their pet dog Tilly, a Puggle (pug/beagle cross) now 8 years old who loves walks, food and sleep. For 11 years, and somewhat unusually, they also shared their lives with a pet pig called Truffle who sadly passed away just over a year ago (RIP). A birthday present from Bradley, a black 'micro' (no such thing!) pig, which kept growing and growing, resulting in them moving house eventually to get a bigger garden so that she could live outside. Truffle hated Bradley when she lived in the house – they were constantly fighting over who was 'top pig!'.
One night Bradley called Rachel who was on her way home from work, "I can't get in the house, Truffle is blocking the door and won't let me pass!" Lots of adventures over those 11 years with Truffle - ransacked kitchens, stolen bins and her love of biting house visitors' toes! (Sorry Kate Gregg!)
Rachel's husband is a bit of an inventor on the side which led to the creation of Doggy Armour six years ago. Inspired by their dog, Tilly, this invention led to a day at Studio City in Manchester being interviewed on Sunday morning BBC news, followed by an unplanned interview with Debbie McGee (on the pavement) for her radio show and finally Radio 5 live – all in one day! All profits for Doggy Armour go to assistance dogs and has led them both on interesting projects working with the police and with rangers in Africa to help protect anti-poaching dogs.
This was not Rachel's first foray into TV. She and her friends went on The Keith Barrett Show many years ago, hosted by Rob Bryden, who interviewed celebrity couples in the hope of finding the secret to a successful marriage – this episode Richard and Judy. As the producers were warming up the audience Rachel was put on the spot and asked who her favourite comedian was – to which she replied, Cannon & Ball, the first thing she could think of! She will never live that down!
In May, Rachel, Bradley and Tilly are packing up the car and driving over to Italy for five weeks with some friends and their dog, with stop overs in France and Switzerland along the way. Her plans for the future include buying and renovating a house (Brad is a builder by trade), more travelling, finding another dog but this time a rescue, and spending more time with her family. Life is currently filled with lots of visitors to their new home in Burton Waters, spending time with family and exploring Lincoln and the surrounding areas – if you haven’t yet visited Lincoln it's worth a trip.
Rachel said the cathedral is spectacular! Rachel is looking forward to more time for gardening, socialising, and exploring new wine bars!
There will also be plenty of dog walking and fresh air along the canal and nearby lakes. Bradley continues with his inventions – the latest is a couple of new marine inventions working with local mariners. Any IP lawyers please do keep in touch!
Rachel is joining our alumni network and looks forward to seeing you at future alumni parties.