Top job: Kay Penney, group HR director, Iron Mountain Europe

Iron Mountain Europe, an outsourced records and information management services company, has appointed Kay Penney as group HR director. Over the next five years, Penney will spearhead the recruitment drive for a major pan-European expansion.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I worked at Centrica as talent director, responsible for the develop-ment and ongoing leadership of the talent management programme throughout the business worldwide.

What will the duties be in your new role?

To lead business development and growth across Europe. Additionally my HR team and I have a partnership role with our line managers to ensure we have the right number of talented people, in the right place, with the right skills to deliver our plans.

How many hours do you work a week on average?

About 60 hours.

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

I believe that HR faces three key challenges – demographics, employee engagement and business partnership.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘Game plan’ or ‘downsizing’.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The mindless repetitiveness of some of the core tasks that have to be done well.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

Anyone who is dogmatic, doesn’t listen and is threatened by new ideas.

What is your essential TV viewing?

West Wing – really thought-provoking TV.

How do you fill your spare time?

I like to spend it enjoying the company of my nearest and dearest. I listen to music and like gardening. I am also a committed life member of the Campaign for Real Ale.

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

One of the strangest was discovering it was my responsibility to arrange the rescue of an employee’s son from a San Franciscan cult. I’d missed that in my job description!

What is the essential tool in your job?

A flip chart.

And the most over-rated?

Texting on my mobile phone.

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

Speak to as many practitioners as possible to gain a broad view of what can be achieved and how rewarding working in HR is.

What is the homepage on your computer?

At work, the Iron Mountain intranet.

What was the last book you read?

Small Island by Andrea Levy.

What newspaper do you read?

Occasionally, I get the chance to read the Times or the Financial Times. However, I do read a variety of HR magazines to keep up-to-date.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Smooth by Santana.

What would be your dream job?

Head of HR at Nasa.

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

Juliette Binoche. She is good at playing characters who have gravitas while enjoying life and the people in their lives.

What is the best office party you have ever attended?

When I was in Germany and I was the only English person in the office, I was asked to host an English tea party. We all had to have food and drink that the team thought the Queen liked – cucumber sandwiches and gin and tonics.

Penney’s CV

2005 Group HR director, Iron Mountain

2002 Talent director, Centrica

1999 Group head of HR development, Centrica

1996 Head of management development, Superdrug

1992 Group head of management development, Campbell’s UK

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