Top job: Frank Douglas, group HR director, Transport for London

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

I was the group HR director for beer brewer Scottish & Newcastle, responsible for overall strategic development, policy formulation, and execution on people-related issues. The company was taken over by Heineken and Carlsberg.

What are the duties in your new role?

Ensuring we have the right capabilities, leaders, motivated staff and policies to deliver TfL’s multi-billion transport upgrade programme.

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

HR must understand how inspired leadership, career development, valuing diversity and exciting challenges must be the new HR ‘levers’.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

Microsoft Office. We spend too much time in electronic/virtual communication and not enough in face time.

What is the worst thing about HR?

There is nothing wrong with HR. Chief executives and companies have the HR they deserve.

Douglas’ CV

February 2010-present
Group HR director, Transport for London

Sep 2007-March 2008
Group HR director, Scottish & Newcastle (global beer brewer)

Oct 2005-Dec 2006
HR director (international), Cable & Wireless

Oct 2000 – Sep 2005
Global HR director, growth businesses, Royal Dutch Shell (energy)

How do you wind down after a bad day at the office?

I love to cook. And I have become attached to my Sonos streaming device, which allows access to more than five million songs on the web.

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

Receiving a very valuable special recognition bonus on the staircase by a former UK boss. He didn’t want anyone else to see him giving me a recognition bonus.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Courageous, value-driven and fun.

What was your lucky break?

Meeting my wife (who is from the UK) in a bar in New York.

What do you regret about your career?

Not understanding earlier in my career that it is just as important to ‘boss hunt’ as it is to ‘job hunt.’

Tell us something about yourself that no-one else knows.

In the Middle East, people often mistake me for Muhammad Ali.

Who was your childhood hero?

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Pursue CIPD (or equivalent programmes) and take marketing courses. I think an understanding of marketing principles provides relevant insights into HR.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Coming to the UK 13 years ago without a job.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Carpe Diem!

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