Top job: David Blackburn, director, HR and business support, Shepherds Bush Housing Group

Where were you working before, and what were your duties?

I was the HR manager for the Metropolitan Housing Partnership, North London. I worked as a business partner across four business units with more than 400 staff at seven sites.

What qualifications do you hold?

A masters in English literature and a postgraduate diploma in television studies. I’m also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, the Institute of Travel Management, and the Institute of Directors.

What will be the duties in your new role?

I report directly to the chief executive in this newly created post with responsibility for the planning, development and implementation of an HR strategy.

I will also lead the communications team and manage the business infrastructure, including the provision of IT to deliver Shepherds Bush Housing Group’s business objectives. I manage a team of 11 and have responsibility for staff retention, recruitment, policy review, reward and recognition, training and development, and employee relations.

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

To adapt to the ever-changing workplace and learn new skills, creating a culture of learning and generating real employee engagement.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Emotional resilience.

And the most overrated?

HR management degrees.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The need to often work very long hours.

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

Too many to list.

Who is your ultimate hero?

My mum.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘Blue Sky Thinking’.

How do you fill your spare time?

I love to cook, entertain and go to the theatre.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Positive, enthusiastic and fun.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Dancing Queen, by Abba.

What is your worst habit?


What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

I moved to the US without a visa.

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

A good book, some sunscreen and a lighter.

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

Hazel Blears, the Labour Party chair – she simply cannot speak in anything but spin.

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

Joan Crawford – I’ve worked my way up from the bottom, but I’ve still got a soft heart underneath.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

This is not a dress rehearsal, so enjoy it and make it count.

Blackburn’s CV

  • Oct 2006-present: Director, HR and business support, Shepherds Bush Housing Group

  • Sept 2003-Oct 2006: HR manager, Metropolitan Housing Partnership, North London

  • Jan 2003-Sept 2003: HR consultant (interim), Timberland UK (retailer)

  • July 1999-Sept 2002: Divisional HR manager (EMEA), Net IQ (IT company)

  • Aug 1997-Jun 1999: Operations team leader, UB International Sales (United Biscuits)

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