Gabriele Arend: HR director UK & Ireland, Elizabeth Arden
Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I was responsible for employee relations at Burberry’s global headquarters in London.
What qualifications do you hold?
A degree in information studies (Cologne University) and CIPD Professional Development Scheme (part-qualified).
What are your duties in your new role?
I am devising a three-year strategic plan on recruitment, retention and training for all 600 beauty consultants in the UK and Ireland. I report to the vice-president of international HR in Geneva.
What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?
The need to make sure young managers, who may be promoted at a point in their life when they have not yet developed essential people management skills, have the relevant training included in their development plans.
What is the essential tool in your job?
The ability to stay calm.
And the most overrated?
Change management consultants.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
An interview candidate who answered all my questions with a reference to France – and his disappointment when I revealed that I was German.
Who is your ultimate hero?
My grandmother – she had an iron will and only did what she believed in.
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
‘In hindsight’ – better to get it right from the start.
How do you fill your spare time?
With my two-and-a-half-year-old son who keeps me busy and sane.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Driven, unflappable and always-up-for-something-new.
What is your favourite web page?
TheWhiteCompany.com – all the beautiful things you would not buy with a toddler in your house.
What song gets you on the dance floor?
White Wedding by Billy Idol.
What is your worst habit?
Almond croissants from Pret a Manger.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Getting into my old Volkswagen in 1992 and driving from Cologne to London, knowing the car (and I) would never make it back.
What three items would you take on a desert island?
My family, almond croissants and mosquito bite cream.
What is the worst office party you’ve ever attended?
A Christmas party where the chief executive insisted that HR should guard the entrance, so nobody ‘unauthorised’ could gate-crash our do – it was very windy and cold and I was wearing a cocktail dress.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
An interview candidate after the interview.
Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.
Where there is a will, there is a way.