Top job: Karen Ann Allchurch, head of HR, operations, Easyjet

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

Head of HR, First Choice Airways. As a member of the board, I played a lead role in shaping the airline’s resource and structure to meet the needs of the flying programme. I was responsible for the development and implementation of every aspect of HR strategy, from employee relations to training and development to trade union liaison.

What qualifications do you hold?

MSc in strategic HR management, member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and BA Hons in archaeology.

What are the duties in your new role?

I am working with the Easyjet operational management board to deliver the business plan. My main duties are to provide innovative people solutions, build partnership relationships with Balpa, T&G and Amicus unions, as well as enhancing leadership capability, employee satisfaction and motivation. I have five direct reports and I report to people director Mike Campbell.

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

Increasing complexity in employment law and pensions regulations ensuring business processes and systems are simple and effective ensuring employee engagement and motivation keeping the profession at the cutting edge and managing the aging workforce/changes in demographics and increased demands for flexible working.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Strategic, joined-up thinking – visualising where the business needs to be in the long term and ensuring that HR plans and activities support the achievement of this.

And the most overrated?

Offshoring – business cases often aren’t challenged enough and therefore the perceived financial benefits don’t materialise.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The continuing debate and lack of confidence in the profession around business partnering. Other functions, such as IT and finance, don’t appear to have this dilemma and don’t appear to invest as much energy justifying what they do to support the business and how they go about doing it.

Who is your ultimate hero?

Howard Carter, discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun, who inspired my interest in archaeology and Margot Fonteyn, who inspired me to dance.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

I don’t find management jargon annoying, just amusing. I giggle when I hear people mention things such as ‘gathering low hanging fruit’, ‘punching above our body weight’ etc.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Professional, pragmatic and challenging.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ by the Scissor Sisters.

What is your worst habit?

My husband tells me that I am a workaholic.

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

Flip flops, a snorkel and Captain Jack Sparrow.

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

Pierce Brosnan.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Life is not a dress rehearsal – make sure you live every day as if it was your last.

Allchurch’s CV

  • December 2006-present: Head of HR, operations, Easyjet
  • January 2003-November 2006: Head of HR, First Choice Airways
  • July 2001-December 2002: HR business support manager, Reality Group
  • September 2000-June 2001: HR controller, Safeway
  • September 1996-August 2000: HR manager, Inn Partnership

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