Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?
I was a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, most recently at the Ministry of Defence. My role was varied, leading the Armed Forces diversity strategy and heading the maritime intelligence procurement.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a BA (Hons) in economics, I’m warship command qualified and I have an NCFE certificate in counselling.
What are the duties in your new role?
My role is to globalise diversity and continue to make it relevant to clients, prospects and employees. I’m pleased to join an organisation that has its sights set on being an innovative market leader.
What challenges does HR face in the next five years?
Finding an edge that draws talent through the door and keeps it in the right place. Being truly innovative is a constant battle – but when you get it right, HR can deliver amazing results.
What is the most overrated tool in your job?
My telephone – I prefer meeting people.
What work tool would you like to see invented?
A penalty system for people who book meeting rooms and don’t use them, ideally one that detects the just-in-case bookings and delivers a mild electric shock to offenders through their keyboard.
What is the worst thing about HR?
People who assume that you’ve spent a sheltered life in an HR enclave. HR professionals invariably lean on a wealth of front-line experience.
How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?
A glass of Montrachet on my balcony overlooking the Thames.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
My partner and I were the first service couple to move into married quarters, in 2005. On the day we moved in, I found a journalist in our shed. The perils of dealing with the media should be learned at university and not while digesting your breakfast.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Happy being different.
What was your lucky break?
I met the first sea lord’s wife in 2003 and said how risk-averse commanders, commodores and captains were. She’s a lady with influence as the next day I was in the first sea lord’s office with my wish list.
What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?
Get as much operational experience as early as you can – it’s money in the bank.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
The press is both friend and foe to the Armed Forces and it can uphold and damn the services in the same edition. In 2006, I persuaded the first sea lord to allow gay sailors to march in uniform at London Pride. It was a world first and could have been spun so as to damage the reputation of the service. In the weeks preceding, I called in favours from every press hack I knew – the story made the Royal Navy proud to be at the vanguard of change.
May 2008-present: Head of diversity, Barclays Wealth (finance)
1989-May 2008: Royal Navy,initially as an armed boarding officer, moving up to lieutenant commander