Top job – Rachel Ferguson

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was proposition development manager for Prudential, responsible for developing the flexible benefits offering to employers. My duties involved managing external partners and internal resources to continuously improve our market proposition.

What qualifications do you hold?

A degree in maths and astrophysics (handy for those moments when ‘it’s not rocket science’) and a postgraduate diploma in HR management.

What are the duties in your new role?

This is a new role for Vebnet, so initially I will be assessing how HR can support our business objectives for the coming financial year. I am the only HR professional, and I report to the chief financial officer.

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

Talented staff are increasingly expecting to be treated as individuals rather than subjected to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude. The challenge is getting the balance between having a consistent and fair approach to people issues, while giving line managers the flexibility to respond to individual circumstances.

What is the essential tool in your job?

My ears – it’s important to listen to different people’s perspectives to find solutions that work for everyone.

And the most overrated?

Meetings. I often achieve more through a casual chat at the right moment.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The perception that all HR people do is hire and fire.

What is the most annoying piece of jargon?

‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’, although I’m probably as guilty of saying it as anyone.

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

I started my career at a supermarket retailer, and was persuaded to take part in a fashion show of its clothes. I paraded up and down a moving travelator past lots of bemused shoppers.

How do you fill your spare time?

Eating, drinking and meeting up with friends, preferably all together.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Positive, fair, calm.

What is your favourite web page?


What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Agreeing to go rock climbing with my husband.

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

A phone, a laptop and a solar-powered generator.

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

Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You team captain Ian Hislop – he’s calm with a sense of humour.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Make the most of all the opportunities you get, and have fun while you’re doing it.

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

Keira Knightley (pictured below) – she’s fun and down to earth, but can stand up for herself.


May 2007-present
HR director, Vebnet

Jan 2005-Apr 2007
Proposition development manager, Prudential Flexible Benefits Solution (part of Prudential UK)

May 2002-Dec 2004
Reward consultant, Prudential UK (insurance and financial services provider)

Jan 2001-May 2002
Legal consultant, Prudential UK

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