Hammonds HR Director of the Year award

This award is for an
individual HR manager or director who can demonstrate outstanding leadership.
Entries should explain the contribution the HR manager has made both to their
own team and to the organisation as a whole. Candidates must demonstrate that
they have developed an effective HR team and present evidence of their
contribution to the business.

Category judge

Russell Martin joined the Prudential
in March 2001 as HR director for Prudential’s UK and European Operations.  From 1996 to 2001, Russell was global HR
director at Thomson Financial, and from 1993 to 1996 he was head of
compensation and benefits, HR requirements and recruitment manager at N&P
Building Society. From 1988 to 1993 he was HR controller at Osprey Communications.  Russell started his career as a graduate
trainee at NatWest in 1985.

and Quadrant Housing Trust

The team

Sally Jacobson, Group director of HR
Chris Gillham, HR manager
Kelly Brown, Senior HR administrator
Niki Winter, Trainee HR officer
Tom Nicols, Head of HR
Debra Blore, HR administrator

Sally Jacobson

About the company

London and Quadrant (L&Q) is a charity providing homes to a
wide variety of economically disadvantaged people, housing 30,000 families in
London and the South East.

About the individual

Sally Jacobson has been L&Q group director of HR for 16
years. She is a member of the board and often deputises for the CEO

The challenge

To establish a culture that enables the organisation to
attract, retain and continuously improve people’s potential, helping it live up
to its mission of ‘creating a place where people want to live’

What the HR director did

– Convinced the board to invest £1,200 per head annually on
training and development

– Created a training budget for non-work-related training to
boost personal development

– All staff have a one-to-one review and annual training plan.
Staff are set individual targets linked to the overall business plan – ensuring
they know they can make a difference

– Listened to and learned from the workforce through staff

– Overhauled the induction process

– Introduced staff recognition schemes and staff benefit
schemes to reward great service

Benefits and achievements

– Won Investors in People accreditation  

– Reduced staff turnover by 14 per cent in two years

– Cut sickness absence to 2.1 per cent

Russell Martin says:
"Passion and commitment leading to real results were the hallmarks of this
entry. Many firsts, including the first housing association to achieve IIP and
a Sunday Times’  Top 100 Companies To
Work For award in 2003. The entry ‘punched above its weight’. The whole look
and feel of what L&Q has put in place for its organisation of 620 people is
what many FTSE 100 companies would aspire to. This has been achieved within the
context of the inevitable resourcing and funding constraints charities have to
deal with."

South West Trains

The team

Beverley Shears, HR director
Barbara Davenport, Head of occupational health
Steve Bunce, Employee relations manager
Kelly Barlow, Employee communications manager
Sandy Clarke, HR manager, Wessex division
Linda Castle, Head of resourcing and development

Beverley Shears

About the company

South West Trains is the UK’s biggest train operator, employing
more than 5,000 and carrying in excess of 460,000 passengers

About the individual

Beverley Shears joined South West Trains as HR director in June
1999. She is deputy managing director

The challenge

To transform the industrial relations culture by creating an HR
strategy that is focused on building, developing and maintaining relationships

What the HR director did

– Transformed employee relations by putting the individual at
the centre of HR strategy

– Introduced a series of core values and behaviours for all

– Created an appraisal process for all non-managerial staff

– Made HR team more business-focused and forward-thinking

Benefits and achievements

– No industrial disputes in the past 12 months and a
successfully implemented pay deal

– Sickness absence levels have fallen from 12 days per person
to 9.4 days, saving £1.3m

– Improved staff retention to 94.4 per cent among staff who
have gone through the firm’s open learning centre

Russell Martin says: "I
was struck by the sheer tenacity of Shears and her team in driving through
change to put South West Trains employees centre stage. This strategy has
delivered hard business benefits and has led to shift away from the more
traditional employer/employee model typical within the industry. A key
differentiator was Shears’ ability to manage complex external relationships
including the Strategic Rail Authority and the Department of Transport."

Essex County Council

The team

Lorraine Pitt, Head of HR service
Clive Potter, HR business manager
Joanna Ruffle, Strategic HR manager (systems)
Yvonne Skingle, Strategic HR manager (organisational development)


About the company

Essex County Council employs 39,238 and serves a population of
more than 1.3 million people

About the individual

Lorraine Pitt joined Essex County Council in November 2000 as
head of HR. She is a member of the council’s strategic management board

The challenge

To make HR more service-focused to enable it to give a
strategic lead in organisational change

What the HR director did

– Ensured HR strategy supported the overall council strategy –
the ‘Essex Approach’

– Restructured HR to help it contribute to the overall aim of
providing customer-focused care

– Gave each service manager a key HR contact in one of the
three service-facing teams

The new HR structure gives professional advice to managers and
adds value with a strategic approach to managing and developing people

Benefits and achievements

– HR has begun to deliver a proactive service, leading change
management and providing support to teams, including Best Value reviews

– Customer feedback shows that 75 per cent of staff rate the HR
service as good overall

– Council rated ‘good’ overall by Comprehensive Performance
Assessment inspectors and four out of four for achievement

– Pitt now gives advice and support to HR in other authorities
as a result of her success

Russell Martin says: "The
scale of change across the whole organisation incorporated in the ‘Essex
Approach’ was particularly challenging. Within HR this required
transformational change across all areas and Lorraine Pitt placed particular
emphasis on the engagement of her HR team. Essex County Council is now seen as
the benchmark and a reference site for other county councils."

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