My big break

David Maitland joined Connex as group HR director in August last year. He
began his HR career as a graduate trainee for United Biscuits in 1985 and has
worked for Kone Lifts, the Rank Organisation and Associated Leisure. Here he
describes his big break

"The opportunity that springs to mind is becoming international HR
director for Axus International in 1994. It was part of the Ford motor company
at the time and helped me to move out of the UK. I was 32 and had been an HR
director since I was 27, but only had experience of UK HR.

Axus gave me the chance to work all over the world. We built up the company
from nothing to an $8.75bn-turnover business with 1,200 employees around the
world. It was an exciting time of growth and it gave me major experience in
international HR.

I was part of the senior management team so was involved in lots of buying
and selling of companies. There were no policies in place when I started so I
had to introduce senior management compensation programmes, learn about
international recruitment, and develop some very high, long-term stock plans.
There was a lot of succession planning – a lot of moving people around
different countries and creating individual development plans.

The job made substantial changes to my employability and had a massive
impact on my working knowledge. Now when someone talks about things like
employment law in the US, I know exactly how it works. It led to the job at
Connex and without it I don’t think I would be working here today."

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