Top job: Sara Carthy, HR and administration director, Liverpool One

Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?

I was area manager of HR for West Cheshire College, responsible for HR and development and college services (property and operations, network services and learning resource centres).

What qualifications do you hold?

BTEC ONC, BTEC, HND business and finance, MCIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

Designing and leading the people strategy for Liverpool One and working to embed a one-team culture where we recruit local people and provide training and support to make them successful.

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

Understanding and showing that you are adding value to the business.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

Meetings for meetings’ sake and e-mailing rather than communicating verbally.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

A mind-reading machine.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The lack of understanding about HR as a profession and the question as to whether it adds value to a business.

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

Walking the dogs with my husband, and chewing his ear.

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

Early in my career at Sainsbury’s I was asked to approach an employee about her personal hygiene – it was only my second day in the job.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate, motivated and outgoing.

What was your lucky break?

Professionally, I feel I have made by own luck, but in my personal life it would be meeting my very supportive and understanding husband.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Chef Jean-Christophe Novelli (to cook), comedian Peter Kay (for his entertainment value) and my husband.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

To get a solid, generalist HR grounding. I would also advise them to get to know the industry and business they are working in, and to back up their knowledge with professional qualifications.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving a stable career in the NHS after 12 years, to go into private retail.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Taking every opportunity that is available and welcoming any challenges that may bring.


  • Sep 2007-present: HR and administration director, Liverpool One (regeneration project)
  • Apr 2006-Aug 2007: Area manager HR and college services, West Cheshire Further Education College
  • Jan 2005-Apr 2006: Personnel manager, West Cheshire College
  • Jan 2001-Dec 2004: Personnel and training manager, Sainsbury’s

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