Peter Burke, HR director, Tote

Where were you working before?

I was working as HR director with retailer Littlewoods and was a member of the executive team.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To help to maximise the potential of Tote through its talented people.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

The impending change in status of Tote – it is being privatised early next year – and being part of its exciting and challenging future.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

When I helped to fix an industrial dishwasher. Flexibility and broad skill base is everything in HR!

How will HR change over the next five years?

Things tend to go in cycles, but I believe people will still be at the top of business agendas in successful organisations.

Who is your ultimate guru?

Dave Ulrich, a clever and entertaining academic.

What is your essential viewing?

Most live sports, particularly football.

What is the best thing about HR?

The variety and breadth of business involvement.

And the worst?

The HR function can at times face criticism just for doing its job.

How do you fill your spare time?

I support Everton Football Club, and try to keep up with my two young daughters.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Abseiling down a sheer cliff face with the paratroopers on a Territorial Army ‘executive stretch’ weekend.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Common sense.

And the most overrated?

HR IT systems.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Try not to specialise too early in your career.

What would be your ideal job?

To be a mystery shopper for the Italian tourist industry.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?

Al Pacino – he has rugged good looks and is ageing a bit, but always gets the job done.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?

I think the last one was so good that I can’t remember what happened!

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

A good lift engineer. This is the diplomatic answer so as not to upset my wife!

Burke’s CV

2004 HR director, Tote bookmakers

2002 HR director, Littlewoods stores

1999 HR director, operations, in all Littlewoods business areas

1998 HR executive, logistics division, Littlewoods

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