How did you get into HR?
At university, I studied European Business Studies, specialising in marketing and HR, and spent one year working at Airbus Industrie in Toulouse. The placement was a great opportunity to learn about the cross section of HR functions and how HR can commercially help drive performance. While I still like the HR synergy with marketing, it was during this experience that I knew my career would be in HR.
What do you enjoy most about HR?
Naturally, I like working with people (that has to be a given), but what really drives me is the buzz from helping the business develop processes and people to have an impact on team and business performance.
What do you find most difficult about working in HR?
I think in HR, in more recent years, it has become more difficult to balance the "here and now" with what we know can be achieved in the long term, but, with good plans and credibility, this is very achievable.
What is your greatest career achievement?
Achieving Best New Entrant at the Wales Quality Awards always stands out for me. I was responsible for implementing people strategy and processes while working for British Airways and the resultant factors were some really significant improvements for our small site in Wales. This was all done with a really great leadership team. It's always nice to win an award for hard work, but this one in particular was special.
What is the most important lesson you've learnt in your career?
Katie Allen's CV, in brief
- Jan 2012-present - head of HR, Marussia F1 Team.
- 2010-11 - HR executive, Marussia Virgin Racing/Wirth Research Ltd.
- 2009-10 - HR consultant, HR business support.
- 2008-09 - travelling through Peru, Chile, New Zealand and Australia.
- 2007-08 - management development manager, HSS Hire Ltd.
- 2007 - interim head of HR, Wales Millennium Centre.
- 2004-06 - HR Manager, MFI Manufacturing Ltd.
- 2001-04 - HR Manager, Sony Manufacturing UK Ltd.
- 1996-2001 - HR and development manager, British Airways Interiors Engineering Ltd.
- 1994-95 - HR university placement, Airbus Industrie, Toulouse, France.
There are a few. Be patient, persistent, engaging, and - overall - never give up.
What was your biggest career challenge?
Earlier in my career, I was so keen to learn that I always took on roles with steep learning curves.
As a result, I learnt very quickly, taking on projects above my skill level. Of course, there were times where I felt completely out of my depth - looking back, it was a risky career strategy but certainly the right one.
What's the next big thing in HR?
For me, we have a continuous technology boom, for example social media. Alongside that sits a change of pace that will only increase. For HR, the next big thing will be to keep ahead of all of this change so that we continue to develop strategies to enable people to maximise their potential. In essence, revolutionary change management!
Who do you most look up to in the industry?
People coming up through the ranks in HR, I've met some great Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development students in recent weeks.
If you didn't work in HR, what would you be doing instead?
I was very nearly a marketing strategist, so that or working in a nature reserve in Western Australia.