Interview with… Lucy Adams, HR director, Eversheds

How did you get to where you are now?

Not via the typical HR route. I started out as a lecturer in adult education and then worked with the long-term unemployed. From there, I worked in a variety of roles in the public sector before moving into consultancy, looking at change management programmes for SMEs. For the past nine years I have led HR and change programmes with international service company Serco and headed up HR for the group. I recently joined Eversheds as HR director.

What takes up most of your time at work?

A lot of my time is spent working with colleagues from our international offices. The firm has a strong ethos around consultation and involvement, so a large part of my role is ensuring that business leaders are involved in the design and implementation. Part of the attraction for me, in joining Eversheds, was the firm’s business strategy and the opportunity to be involved in the growth and the reputation of the firm. I am looking forward to contributing to the implementation of part of the firm’s strategy and facilitating the HR needs of the firm at this important time in its growth.

Which three attributes are needed to do your job?

Strategic thinking, commercial acumen and excellent communication skills.

What’s HR’s biggest legal challenge?

The eternal battle of proving a tangible return on investment in people. We need to ensure we make effective business cases for the investment we make in people, instead of asking for investment on the basis that it is the right thing to do. Most employers want to do the right thing, but we have to present the business argument too.

What legislation causes you the most headaches?

No one piece worries me, but the influence of European pro-employee legislation is of concern to all businesses. While we all welcome the right protection for employees against unscrupulous employers, most employers do want to do the right thing and are confused by the increased legal demands placed on them. We are at risk of making it increasingly difficult for employers to manage poor performance and it is important to get the balance right.

How do you keep up with new and changing legislation?

Apart from the usual networking, conferences, events and reading that all HR directors do, I have the added advantage of working for one of the world’s largest law firms.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Doing something creative that takes the business forward.

What’s the most challenging situation you’ve had to deal with?

I once transferred about 500 employees under TUPE. It was our custom to provide tea and coffee but one department didn’t know this. Six months into the contract, when the union rep found out they had been missing out, he asked for drinks to be back-dated from the start of the contract!

What would be in your room 101?

Celebrity Big Brother.

What really annoys you in life?

Bigotry and intolerance.

When you were a youngster what was your ambition?

To be a ballet dancer.

Who’s your hero?

Scarlet O’Hara (the heroine of Gone with the Wind).

Describe a turning point in your life.

When I had my daughter – it gives you a different perspective on things.

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