In 2009, Melanie Stevens joined the charity with a background in recruitment as an Office Manager and with experience largely in PA work. She was selected from a pool of over 250 applicants for the role of Receptionist and PA to the CEO, having been whittled down to a shortlist of just three applicants.

At the time Mel joined the charity there were just 45 staff, which included those of the then 8 charity shops. Today there are 19 shops and 119 staff who have been employed to support the move from a very small charity to a middle-sized charity whose operations have expanded over the years to include two helicopters and extended flying hours with that growth look set to continue as flying hours are extended.

Mel's career progression has seen her move from her starting role to becoming the CEO's Executive Assistant and Reception Manager to the role of HR Officer (which required her to pursue her level 3 qualification), to HR Advisor, and most recently to HR Manager, for which she successfully achieved a level 5 qualification whilst working full-time.

A background in both public and private sectors gave Mel valuable experience, but working for a charity most inspired her passion and sense of purpose. The community she joined was small, close-knit and enthusiastic about the cause. Although that team continues to grow, its enthusiasm remains. Says Mel:

It sounds like a cliché, but no two days are the same. I may come into work thinking I know what I'd like to achieve that day, but all sorts of circumstances can emerge that change those ambitions. That's also why it's important that I sustain my professional development. Society, culture and legislation doesn't stand still, and new information is emerging all the time about how to respond to the needs of staff. For example, only a few years ago the emphasis was only on looking after the physical health of staff at work; today there is an equal emphasis on mental health too.

The nature of working in HR has evolved Too. Today there is more scope for becoming strategically focused and Mel's level 5 qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is essential in helping her to respond to these challenges. 

Mel's work is to look after both the needs of the staff and the organisation, which are the same entity. Learning the best-practice approaches with the support of her training and the support of professional conferences and literature equips her with the expertise to achieve that aim.

Employees can have confidence that Devon Air Ambulance employs qualified people to recruit and look after the employment of others and that we are legally compliant and up to date,' says Mel. 'Things change rapidly and we prioritise staying abreast of those changes to ensure the best working experience for employees and the greatest productivity for the charity, and of course, for our patients.

Are you interested in supporting our helicopters and for working with people like Mel? Find out about our current vacancies, or perhaps you have a little time to donate as a volunteer? We’d love to hear from you. 

At the Devon Air Ambulance Away Day earlier in 2018, Melanie Stevens was awarded with

Employee of the Year by DAA Patron and BBC Radio Devon presenter, David Fitzgerald.