Top Job: Paul Robinson, HR director, Trowers & Hamlins

Where were you working before and what were your responsibilities?

I was HR director in another law firm, with similar responsibilities, but on a smaller scale.

What qualifications do you hold?

A sociology degree, followed by a post-graduate diploma and membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

What are the duties in your new role?

Leadership of the HR function and ensuring that the firm’s HR strategy is aligned with the business.

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

Talent retention, employee engagement, and quite possibly managing through recession.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

E-mail is essential but over-used. Where possible it’s better to talk than to fire off an (often poorly worded) e-mail.

What work tool would you like to see invented?

An instant, handheld, return-on-investment device for HR.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Its self-perception, as typified by the constant debate about its value in the HR press.

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

My scooter ride home, time spent with my young daughter, and supporting Manchester United football team.

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

Spending an evening with a client in Moscow involving nightclubs, private soldiers and Kalashnikov rifles.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Optimistic, relaxed, focused.

What was your lucky break?

My parents, whose guidance kept me on the right path.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Footballer Eric Cantona, singer Nick Cave, author Bret Easton Ellis, my partner Rocio, and my family and friends.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Don’t take yourself too seriously, get as broad an experience of the business you’re in as you can, and always be straight with people.

What job would you like your children to do?

Anything that they enjoy: failing that, becoming a teenage tennis prodigy.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

My daily rush hour sprint from Islington to Tower Hill by scooter.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can.

 

Robinson’s CV

Feb 2008-present – HR director, Trowers & Hamlins (City law firm)

Feb 2002-Feb 2008 – HR director, Watson, Farley & Williams (law firm)

July 1995-Feb 2002 – Head of HR, Europe, NYK (shipping and logistics)

Nov 1988-Jul 1995 – HR manager, Bovis Construction Group

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