What is your new role?
I am group HR director at DSGi (formerly Dixons Group). I am responsible for people strategy and leadership development.
Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I joined DSG International (DSGi) as HR director for Europe. Prior to DSGi, I held senior HR positions in the publishing and hospitality industries.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a BSc in engineering and an MSc in HR management.
What are the duties in your new role?
I report to the chief executive, John Clare, but in effect I have 40,000 internal customers. There are 200 HR professionals operating within our business. Our focus is on cost-efficient and customer-focused shared services and on high-value business support delivery.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
To support the on-going development of world-class service delivery. Our customers are, together with our employees, at the core of what DSGi is about. We’ve made good progress – as current customer feedback testifies – but there’s a lot more to do.
What are the challenges HR faces in the next five years?
In my view, HR’s main challenges revolve around adding value to the business, such as recruiting and retaining talent to help businesses differentiate themselves and beat the competition, or the challenge of handling the practical implementation of the ceaseless stream of legislation.
What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
Recognise, use, nurture and develop common sense. This, coupled with a bit of technical knowledge, sound commercial and people judgement will mean a long and successful career ahead.
What is the essential tool in your job?
Common sense and pragmatism.
And the most overrated?
Human capital key performance indicators that become an obsession for some and add zero value to the business we serve.
What is the worst thing about HR?
Constant navel gazing, feeling we need to always justify our existence. I do not see other functions do that. My shout would be that we concentrate on delivering a value-enhancing HR service to our businesses.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
In a job in the US, having to respond to a (serious) request to carry firearms in the workplace, which was legal where I was.
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
I don’t like buzzwords. The phrase ‘human capital management’ comes close to the top of my list.
How do you fill your spare time?
My partner and our children keep me busy. I exercise a little, and I enjoy the theatre, golf, travel and fine food and wine.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Taking a job that took me and my family to another country – twice.
What was the last book you read?
The Last Juror by John Grisham.
What would be your dream job?
Kofi Annan has his hands on the wheel.
Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
A young Omar Sharif. We look alike (in my dreams).
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Catherine Zeta Jones.
- January 2006-present: Group HR director, DSG International (formerly Dixons Group)
- 2001-2006: HR director Europe, DSGi
- 1995-2000: HR director, Utell International,
- 1993-1995: HR director, Forte Grand Hotels
- 1992-1993: Director of HR, AFI Hotels