Head to head

This week Vernon Everitt, HR director at the Financial Services Authority
and Norman Mitchinson, director of group HR at Lloyds TSB, compare notes on
their careers

1 What are your main responsibilities?

VE In short, leadership. The FSA takes a strategic view of its people
issues, covering everything from recruitment and retention to organisational
development and reward. We work very closely with the FSA’s business units to
understand their needs and ensure our services help them to deliver their
business objectives.

NM My main responsibility is getting business value from all our
people, and giving personal value back. To do that, I take responsibility for
the direction of the bank’s HR strategies, systems and the delivery of HR
services in most parts of the bank.

2 What’s the pay like?

VE While it’s true we can never compete with the higher levels of pay
in the industry, we offer a powerful package comprising competitive pay, a
flexible benefits package and a performance-related bonus scheme.

NM Our policy is to aim at market rates at all levels. I’m
comfortable with my pay and benefits package, but I’m keeping it to myself,
thank you.

3 How flexible are the hours?

VE Generally quite flexible, though much depends on the workload we have
on. We can also be flexible with work patterns and we have a number of staff –
male and female – work flexibly. We are really interested in people who get
things done, rather than people who simply spend hours in the office.

NM I work for an organisation that is committed to work-life balance
and I strive for it myself. I’m an early starter but I try to get away in good
time, and I can rearrange my time to suit my work or my private life. My work
is split between two main cities, which complicates life.

4 What do you like most about the job?

VE The sheer scale of the challenge. There is an enormous amount for
the FSA to do, and the HR division has a pivotal role in helping to ensure that
we deliver successfully.

NM I work for an organisation that I’m proud of – that’s partly why
I’ve stayed. But as someone who only came into HR a few years ago, I’m also
delighted with the quality of the people I work with and the business impact
that HR can have.

5 What are the challenges?

VE We need to develop our staff into experts in identifying and
mitigating risk. There is also a big communications exercise to be done to
promote what an interesting and exciting place this is to work and how valuable
a spell at the FSA is for a CV.

NM Matching business needs with human needs is critical, and not
easy. Managing change is also a challenge. So is giving better value for money
– and developing and retaining talent.

6 What is your biggest headache?

VE Keeping a semblance of control over two young daughters.

NM I don’t really have a headache of my own. Most of the things that
concern me are well known to HR practitioners, and well rehearsed in these
pages!

7 What size is your team?

VE Around 60. The management team consists of me plus seven others.

NM I have 10 direct reports, but there are some 900 people in the HR
group.

8 Who do you report to?

VE Paul Boyle, the FSA’s chief operating officer.

NM I report to Mike Fairey, deputy group chief executive, but I also
have regular contact with the chairman, the group chief executive and other
board members.

9 What qualifications do you have?

VE I left school at 16 to join the Bank of England. It had a very
good training scheme, including a summer school to gain qualifications in
economics.

NM I have two banking qualifications: an FCIB and the Financial
Studies Diploma. I also have an LLB degree, and an MBA. All were gained during
employment – I’m a believer in life-long learning, and gained my MBA in my 50s.

10 What are your career aspirations?

VE To be a success in my role as HR director at the FSA. In
particular, I want to use my experience in regulation to maximise the
contribution of our HR professionals.

NM My retirement date is only two years away, but I won’t be rotting
after that. I’ll be starting my second career, but haven’t yet finalised my
plans.

11 What training and development opportunities are there?

VE There are excellent management and technical training
opportunities, and we encourage people to undertake a relevant industry
qualification. Every member of staff works with their line manager to determine
a personal development plan.

NM The bank has the biggest corporate university in the UK and it
even has an accredited CIPD centre. Training and development is an integral part
of my role, so there is no shortage of opportunities.

12 What is your holiday entitlement?

VE A core minimum of 20 days and the opportunity to purchase a
further 15 through our flexible benefits scheme.

NM 30 days a year. And I take it all.

13 What’s your work environment like?

VE Friendly and supportive. There is a very commercial and
professional feel to the FSA, not unlike that you would find in any
professional services firm. But there is also a clear appreciation that what we
do has a central public policy element to it.

NM My time is spent between London and Bristol. I have a good office
in London, and borrow a room in Bristol near to a lot of our HR people.

14 What other benefits do you get?

VE The core package comprises a non-contributory pension scheme, life
assurance, private medical insurance, permanent health insurance, a restaurant,
a gym, and an interest-free season ticket loan.

NM As a senior executive I get a bonus opportunity and share options,
plus a car and medical care. Like most staff with the bank, I’m entitled to our
employee share saving scheme and pension arrangements.

15 What’s the best part?

VE Current and prospective staff tell us that they find the flexible
benefits package particularly attractive. But I’m ashamed to say that I don’t
even know where the entrance to the gym is.

NM You are working with the most valuable resource a company has (OK,
it has become a clich√©, but it’s more true than ever); and as the corporate
champion of people issues you have the chance to influence people’s lives
positively as well as the organisation itself.

16 How does your firm treat work-life balance?

VE Pretty good – feedback from our staff survey indicates a high
level of satisfaction with the work-life balance available here. We offer a
full range of leave packages, including career breaks, and there is a wide
range of sports and social activities available.

NM We introduced work-life balance policies and practices into Lloyds
TSB in 1999, and they have proved very popular. Our chief executive, Peter
Ellwood, is also the chair of Employers for Work-Life Balance, an alliance of
22 like-minded organisations.

17 Who do you envy?

VE I don’t envy anyone, but my hero is unquestionably Lemmy of Motorhead.

NM I admire people who take on difficult tasks and pioneer valuable
outcomes – Senator George Mitchell, for example.

Vernon Everitt
HR director, Financial Services Authority

Job at a glance
Size of team: 60
Qualifications: Internal Bank of England training
Leave: 20 days and the opportunity to purchase a further 15
Best part: The sheer scale of the challenge

Curriculum Vitae

2002 HR director, FSA
2000 Head of Press Office and Events, FSA
1998 Head of Communications Infrastructure, FSA
1996 Project manager at the Bank of England

Norman Mitchinson
Director of group HR, Lloyds TSB

Job at a glance
Size of team: 900
Qualifications: FCIB, Financial Studies Diploma, an LLB degree and an MBA
Leave: 30 days
Best part: Being proud of where I work

Curriculum Vitae
1998 Director of group HR, Lloyds TSB
1996 Retail financial services director, Lloyds TSB HR
1993 General manager, systems and support, Lloyds Bank
1990 General manager, support and development, Lloyds Bank
1988 Assistant general manager, Lloyds Bank branch IT project

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