Top job: Garry Thompson, HR director, Opodo

Garry Thompson has joined travel website Opodo as HR director. In his new role, he hopes to help to establish the company as one of the top three best-selling European online travel agencies.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was head of HR for technology provider Amadeus Services. I was responsible for all aspects, including development of strategy, learning and development, reward, recruitment and selection, policy development, employee relations, pensions, and internal communication.

What will be the duties in your new role?

To develop and successfully implement an integrated HR and organisational development strategy that fully supports Opodo’s business direction.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
When I was in the retail trade, I once had to do a stock-take in a cage at the top of a forklift truck!

How will HR change over the next five years?

HR will continue striving to assume a central role in delivering business success. To do so, it has to understand the business and be proactive in delivering flexible and effective solutions.

Who is your ultimate guru?

Charles Handy (social philosopher).

What is the best thing about HR?

The wide range of activities you get involved in. I’ve always enjoyed working in a generalist role.

And the worst?

The area I have least enjoyed is probably pensions. The volume and complexity of the legislation regulations and the personal liability attached to the role of Pension Trustee are not really fully appreciated within the business.

How do you fill your spare time?

Spending time with my family, travel, football, golf and cycling.

What is the essential tool in your job?

It has to be my Blackberry. I’ve only had it for a couple of months, but I find it invaluable.

And the most overrated?

This may seem contradictory to my last answer, but I would have to say e-mail. It is far too easy to be driven by it.

What is your essential viewing?

I don’t religiously watch anything on TV. If I had to choose, my favourite would be England football internationals.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Listen to your customers, try to be pragmatic and flexible, and don’t just quote the staff handbook to people when dealing with their problems.

What was the last book you read?

Dude, Where’s My Country? by Michael Moore.

What would be your ideal job?

Chairman of Sunderland AFC – if I had the finances.

What is the best office party you have ever attended?

The best was probably when we hired Thorpe Park for an evening when I worked for Galileo UK.

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

Patrick Stewart – it would need to be someone who is follicly challenged!

Thompson’s CV

2004 HR director, Opodo

2000 Head of HR, Amadeus Services

1997 Head of personnel, Galileo UK

1995 Personnel manager, Galileo UK

1991Senior personnel officer, Galileo UK

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