Top job: Carol Mills, director of HR at Lancashire County Council

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

My last job was strategic director of corporate services at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

My remit was very wide-ranging, covering HR, legal, democratic support and strategic partnerships, including a major partnership with BT.

What qualifications do you hold?

CIPD, an MA in education, certificates in mediation and hypnotherapy, and a postgraduate diploma in leadership coaching and executive mentoring.

What are the duties in your new role?

I have responsibility for the strategic lead of HR and payroll, training and development and health and safety. With 40,000 staff and shared services being provided for a number of other organisations, I have a large team, but six direct reports. I report to the chief executive.

What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?

In the local government sector, dealing with the major outcomes of the recent White Paper. This includes significant changes in the way our employees will work with the customer greater joining up with other public sector colleagues and more agile and mobile working. HR must make the operational work feature less so that there can be a greater focus on the strategic. Organisations cannot change without the people, and the people at the top need HR to tell them how. Shared services is also another big agenda for me.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The people issues often play second fiddle to the money.

What are the essential tools in your job?

Resilience, a sense of humour and my BlackBerry.

And the most overrated?

The rule book.

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

I recently spent the morning in a manufacturing plant, looking at designs for aeroplane parts with Prince Andrew.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

HR as ‘change agents’ – it makes us sound like super-heroes.

Who is your ultimate hero?

My dad. In the past two years he has re-invented himself by taking up a new career, starting a new business and learning to develop his own website. Not bad at 66.

How do you fill your spare time?

Seeing my friends, travelling and sport.

What is your most popular web page?

Anything that has the word ‘travel’ in it.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Something Got Me Started by Simply Red.

What is your worst habit?


What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Jumping out of a plane three times to raise money for the hospice where my mum died.

What three items would you take with you on a desert island?

Dog, iPod and a solar charger.

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

Helen Mirren. She’d be at home with the drama.

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

The Dalai Lama, so I could pick his brains.

Mills’ CV

  • April 2007-present: Director of HR, Lancashire County Council

  • October 2002-March 2007: Strategic director, corporate services, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

  • September 1999-October 2002: Head of personnel, Blackpool Borough Council

  • May 1998-September 1999: Head of HR, New College Durham

  • June 1995 – May 1998: Director of HR, Oldham College

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