Head to head

This week Martin Rooney, HR policy manager of CISInsurance, and John
Wrighthouse, head of personnel planning and development at Nationwide compare
notes on their careers

1 What are your main responsibilities?

MR I lead a team in the HR Policy. Our task is to devise, implement
and monitor HR policies which support business activity in areas such as
reward, diversity, employee involvement, social accountability, HR risks and
MIS. I also contribute to the Society’s Business Recovery and Procurement

JW I co-ordinate talent management, career management, communication
of the people agenda, graduate recruitment, personnel planning, personnel
systems and employee engagement.

2 What’s the pay like?

MR Sufficient to buy season tickets for my sons for Hillsborough and
that should convince you I don’t always spend wisely!

JW My rewards are good and I am happy. I like being associated with
Nationwide and what it stands for.

3 How flexible are the hours?

MR Typically I leave home at 7.30am and return at 7.30pm, but
additional hours on a Sunday at home and occasional work in the evening usually
proves helpful.

JW I am normally in the office by 8am each day and leave after 6pm.
There can be a bit of travel involved as we have 750 locations and I like to
get out as much as I can. We don’t have set hours in Nationwide and it’s up to
me to decide how to structure my day and hours. I try and get the balance right
between work and home.

4 What do you like about the job?

MR I particularly enjoy identifying potential and developing the
people who work with me.

JW Nationwide has very strong values in how it does business and how
we engage our employees. This is shown in our approach: working with our local
communities, our people and fair pricing for the products we offer. I like my
job because I have a lot of scope to influence and drive the people agenda and
this is important as to how we succeed as a business.

5 What are the challenges?

MR Meeting ambitious annual objectives while being responsive to
unseen business requirements; managing culture change; and making sure our
diversity policy actually works!

JW Creating the people environment where our employees can truly say
‘Nationwide is a place where I want to work’. Identifying what personnel and
people practices make the most difference and that will help us achieve our aim
of being a great place to work.

6 What is your biggest headache?

MR E-mail.

JW Balancing the need for business control (as you would expect of a
financial services organisation) with the needs of individuals to learn and
grow. Because of the need to work through compliance it is easy to miss
opportunities to help people personally grow and develop.

7 What size is your team?

MR 12.

JW 28.

8 Who do you report to?

MR Head of HR Peter Smith.

JW Director of personnel and development Jeremy del Strother.

9 What qualifications do you have?

MR BSc Management Sciences Economics; University of Lancaster, MSc
Human Resources Salford University; FCIPD and NEBOSH certificate in Health
& Safety.

JW BSc (Honours) in Business and Administration from the University
of Salford MA in Employment Law and Relations from the University of Leicester;
diploma in Personnel Management from the NorthWest Regional Management Centre;

10 What are your career aspirations?

MR To do justice to my career role and live up to the faith others
have shown in me.

JW I would like to move into training and the delivery of training.

11 What training and development opportunities are there?

MR The society encourages individuals to accept responsibility for
personal development and education and provides limitless opportunities
including community involvement for skills and knowledge acquisition. I think
one of the major responsibilities for any manager is to evaluate and exploit
the opportunities which facilitate individual development.

JW Nationwide is great at offering a breadth of development
opportunities, both formal learning and on-the-job development. Our senior
managers should have experience in a range of roles which ensures our leaders
of the future really understand how our business works and what our customers
need. This is best achieved by having an opportunity to move outside your
professional comfort zone and doing a different job. I attend the Harrogate
CIPD conference regularly; I enjoy employment law and am a member of the
Industrial Society Peel Club – a forum for senior HR and employee relations
professionals hosted by Olga Aitken.

12 What is your holiday entitlement?

MR 27 days.

JW 30 days.

13 What’s your work environment like?

MR Excellent. Not my favourite architecture, but nevertheless the
tallest building in the UK outside London, which has recently been listed. Free
drinks vending and first class restaurant facilities can be often taken for

JW I am very lucky to be based at the society’s head office in
Swindon. It was built in 1991 and hosts many facilities: gym, shop, great
restaurant, clubhouse, hairdresser, and Nationwide branch.

14 What other benefits do you get?

MR Pension, an annual bonus of 3 per cent, Audi A6 and staff
discounts on certain CIS and Co-operative group products and services.

JW I drive a Land Rover Discovery, have private medical cover for
myself and family, occupational pension to which Nationwide contributes 20 per
cent of my salary, and bonus schemes.

15 What’s the best part?

MR Witnessing our values come alive in our Social Accountability
programme and the sincerity and conviction of staff in applying those values.

JW The values that Nationwide holds – it’s great to be proud of your
employer and know you have made a difference in your job. It’s rewarding to
read that Nationwide has championed something great – even when the Financial
Services Ombudsman said we had treated some mortgage customers unfairly,
Nationwide chose to do the right thing and paid £90m to them.

16 How does your firm treat work-life balance?

MR We introduced a major initiative – WLB – last year which was well
received by staff and cited by Amicus as a model for the financial services

JW Nationwide is a founding member of the Forum for Work Life
Balance. We endeavour to ensure our people balance their work and home
commitments: Nationwide was the first financial services organisation to
abolish its retirement age at 60 – now we review at 70. We also encourage
non-standard work patterns and have more part-time workers than our

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