The Experts in HR

Meet Our Team

Our HR consultancy team

Meet our growing team of HR professionals

Samantha Hulson

HR Director & Founder, Birch-HR

Samantha is a Chartered fellow of the CIPD (FCIPD), which is the highest membership of people professionals. Sam has previously led several outstanding schools HR traded services in the public sector on behalf of local authorities, including for the largest children’s services directorate in Europe (98% Headteacher client satisfaction for the quality of HR advice and support). She has successfully led on the planning and implementation of numerous transformation projects, advised the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) on national teacher pay matters, implemented new performance management frameworks linked to pay and different contracts of employment. Sam has led on national, regional and local trade union consultation including the development of a suite of new policies, management toolkits, complex casework resolution, disputes and recognition agreements. Sam previously chaired the Birmingham schools Joint Consultative Committees (JCC). Sam has worked in the private sector including retail and banking. Sam is a Governor at an inner city school in Birmingham.

Nicola Johnson

Head of Employee Relations (ER) & Co-Founder, Birch-HR

Nicola is the co-founder of Birch-HR and the Head of ER. Nicola is an employee relations expert and the Catholic HR education lead. Nicola is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, which recognises people professionals who use their expertise in people and work. Nicola has previously worked as a HR Consultant for several local authorities, including Birmingham City Council and Dudley Council. Nicola leads and delivers the annual HR training programme on behalf of Birmingham Diocesan Education Service and Birmingham Primary Catholic Partnership (BPCP). Nicola is passionate about improving outcomes for the education sector and young people and supporting her clients. Nicola has previously worked in the private sector, including manufacturing and engineering. Nicola is an active campaigner for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Trust.

Joanne Allsopp

HR Consultant

Joanne has considerable executive level HR Director and Chief Operating Officer experience within professional football (off-field operations) and recently worked as a Head of HR for a Multi-academy Trust. Joanne is a qualified paralegal. Jo has provided first line HR advice and support to all schools in the Trust, including recruitment, disciplinary, grievance, TUPE, payroll and pensions. Jo has a strong background in solution focussed employee relations and business and project improvement, using this knowledge to support the resolution of casework and policy improvement.

Hollie Licqurish

HR Advisor

Hollie is an Associate CIPD member, with a sound understanding of what HR within the education sector entails. Having worked within several internal HR teams, Hollie is confident in providing professional advisory, recruitment, and employee relations support to our clients. Hollie has experience of maintaining the integrity of the data held by school’s Single Central Record (SCR) and is knowledgeable about the regulatory requirements surrounding this.

Emma James

Business Manager and Company Secretary

Emma is a former contract project manager for the civil service. Emma manages the business support aspects on behalf of the Company and our clients to ensure systems, processes and risk management are effective, and that our client contracts are compliant. Emma provides a range of digital support to deliver our briefings and thought leadership content. Emma provides minute taking as part of the HR offer. As Company Secretary Emma helps ensure the Company complies with financial and legal responsibilities, as well as Governance.

Peter Emmanuel

HR Intern

Peter is a final year undergraduate, completing a BA, HRM and marketing degree at Keele University. Peter is part of the Keele empowerment network, challenging gender barriers. As part of the Santander Internship opportunity, Peter has joined Birch-HR to gain HR experience, knowledge and skills as part of a forward thinking HR consultancy team.

Steve Kearsley

HR Consultant

Steve is a former Divisional Director of HR with significant strategic and operational HR experience and a proven track-record of success in business transformation, change management, employee relations, workplace investigations and reward management. Steve is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and has notable HR experience in the education, public and private sectors.

Lorraine Jones

HR Consultant

Lorraine is an experienced former HR Director for the Law Society of England and Wales and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Lorraine specialises in employee relations, workplace investigations, TUPE, coaching and mentoring. Lorraine has significant HR experience in the education, public and private sectors. Lorraine is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.

Steve Tolley

HR Consultant

Steve is a former HR Director and Head of HR Advisory Services in the public sector. Steve specialises in employee relations, workplace investigations, job evaluation and pay structures. Steve has substantial HR experience in the education, public and private sectors. Steve is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.

Martin Callus

HR Consultant

Martin is a former Group HR Director and change management consultant that specialises in HR, training and development, NLP, coaching, mentoring interventions, restructures, policy development and workplace investigations through to tribunal. Martin has worked with a wide range of organisations including Acute/Mental Health Trusts, GP federations, CCG’s, local authorities, education Church of England and Birmingham Catholic Diocese. Martin is a Chartered Member of the CIPD and a CIPD Level 5 Lecturer for the South Orbital Colleges (John Ruskin and East Surrey).

Brian Carmichael

HR Consultant and Mediator

An accredited ACAS Employee Mediator, CIPD HR professional and trained Senior Investigating Officer, Brian is a subject matter expert in the effective management of Employee Relations. Utilising his skills, experience, and knowledge from working as a police officer for thirty years, he can proactively identify the root cause of employee(s) problems by conducting proportionate and ethically based HR fact-finding and disciplinary investigations. Where employees are conflicted, Brian performs facilitative mediation to restore effective working relationships.

Brian can also conduct reviews of processes and organisational design to identify the factors contributing to poor and inefficient performance. He is also proficient in providing hands-on case management support in investigations, disciplinary matters, absenteeism, capability, and grievance matters.

Mary Walker

Learning and Development Consultant

Mary has extensive experience and a track record in delivering diverse learning and development programmes and executive level coaching and mentoring to support businesses, charities and leaders to maximise performance of their teams. Mary helps leaders access funding to support training.  Mary’s most recent work achievements include the successful delivery of the volunteer programme for the European Professional Rugby Cup finals. Mary has over 30-years’ experience working in finance and HR roles and has been a member of the CIPD for over 20-years. Mary is passionate about supporting the local community and has been a Governor.

Lisa Tomlinson

Learning and Development Consultant

Lisa is a professional HR, Learning and Development and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) consultant and coach, with experience in the public, charity, education and private sectors. She has experience working in strategic and operational roles, driving organisational change, increasing inclusion, shifting cultures and influencing at senior and board level. Lisa is passionate about supporting leaders to create agile, inclusive and value-led organisations and cultures through attracting, developing and leading diverse talent. Lisa is a chartered member of the CIPD.

Ann Reilly

HR Consultant

Ann is a former Head of HR in the private sector, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, with more than 30 years professional HR experience in both strategic and operational HR roles. Ann is passionate about what she does, a trusted HR partner and advisor working collaboratively utilising her experience to provide pragmatic HR solutions and support. With expertise in the areas of Employee Relations, Trade Unions, Disciplinary, Grievances, Workplace Investigations, Mediations, TUPE transfers from local authorities into the private sector, Change programmes, redundancy, organisational re-structures and succession planning. An Award winner who has worked across a wide range of business sectors, including Engineering Design, Retail, Highways and Rail, Pharmacy and FM.


Elise Scotland

Personal Assistant (PA)

Elise is an experienced PA and note taker. Elise provides high quality personal assistant and transcription support to Birch-HR clients and HR consultants at HR meetings, hearings and appeals.

Birch-HR is supported by finance, IT and other support professionals.

Our Blog

News & Events

We provide regular HR news, briefing  and training events for our clients. We provide thought leadership articles for HR, education and business national media.

Being a Good Intern

Being a Good Intern

The key to being a good Intern…enjoy yourself!

Our HR Intern, Peter Emmanuel, gives us a brief insight on what it is like to work at Birch-HR and gives his top tips on being a good Intern.

June is for proactively supporting employees

June is for proactively supporting employees

Did you know that creating an informed, open and supportive culture can really help your school and business become an employer of choice?

Becoming an employer of choice depends on several factors, but let’s start with making your team feel supported, performing well and a culture they genuinely enjoy working for.

COVID-19 and the vaccine

COVID-19 and the vaccine

As millions of children in England went back to school and we had the first stage of the “roadmap’ out of national lockdown, we are focusing our HR News (10) on COVID-19 to help school leaders, managers and employees be prepared.

Enquire Today

We look forward to arranging a convenient time to establish how we can best support your current leadership with the delivery of both current and future HR priorities.