People

Liverpool-born Gary Birney has returned to his native North West after an
eight-year spell with Toyota GB in Surrey. He has joined the independent mobile
phone service provider Singlepoint as HR director.

Birney was personnel and training director at Toyota GB (TGB) and says the
firm owes much of its success to the high level of staff training: "At the
end of my eight years, TGB had doubled its market share and was still one of
the fastest growing companies in the market. It owed much to the excellence of customer
care – the legacy of thorough training," he says.

Birney hopes the training success of TGB can be replicated at Singlepoint:
"This means not only getting the basics right, but making significant
improvements in areas such as career development and training. We’re planning
for the longer term development of our workforce," he says

In his new role HR is relatively new territory, so the potential to gauge
its input against business performance is enormous: "My first focus has
been building an infrastructure that allows the department to carry out
essential HR basics, such as payroll and providing consistent and proactive
advice across all areas of the company," he says.

Recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce are targets for the business
and Birney wants to make the firm an employer of choice.

"HR feeds into the success of the company at many different levels.
Fundamentally, Singlepoint’s success is based around retaining customers, which
means responding to their needs. The only way to achieve this is through a
happy, well-trained and committed workforce."

CV

2002 Director of HR, Singlepoint

1994 Personnel and training director, Toyota GB

1990 Personnel and training director, ANC

1988 Management consultant, Pricewaterhouse

… on the move

Margaret MacNeill  is the new
regional training manager for Sodexho Defence Services. She will run Sodexho’s
best practice training programme that has already seen reductions in
absenteeism and turnover. Based at the company’s South Queensferry location near
Edinburgh, her remit covers Scotland and the north of England. MacNeill, who is
CIPD qualified, joins from Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.

Catherine Hearn has joined printing company Polestar as group HR director.
She moves from Diageo, where she was HR director of business services.
Previously, she was HR director for Guinness International Market and started
out as employee relations director at Diageo. Her experience also includes
several years at ICL and London Transport. She sits on the board and is based
at the Milton Keynes headquarters.

BT has appointed Alex Wilson as group HR director following John Steele’s
retirement. Wilson joins from ICI, where he was senior vice-president of HR and
group communications. He has also held senior HR positions at Ford, Grand
Metropolitan, Guinness and Diageo, where he worked in the US and managed
operations in South America, Asia and Europe. He has a degree in economic
history from Strathclyde University.

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