Top job: Sarah Higgins, group HR director, Bland Bankart

Sarah Higgins is group HR director at Bland Bankart. She joins the independent
insurance, risk management and financial services company from Lombard where
she was an HR consultant. Her appointment marks the first ever full-time HR
role at the firm, and she will provide strategic and operational support to the
260 directors, line managers and staff.

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

Singing Gold by Spandau Ballet in front of 300 staff at a conference in
2002. I had volunteered to be part of a pop idol act.

How do you think the role of HR will change over the next five years?

With the increasing amount of employment legislation, businesses will become
more reliant on HR for its expertise in this area.

What is your essential viewing?

Generally anything sci-fi orientated. However, I’ve recently been hooked on
24 and Reborn in the USA.

What’s the best thing about HR?

Being able to facilitate issues into win-win solutions.

And the worst?

The level of strategic importance placed upon HR, often to the detriment of
the business.

How do you fill your spare time?

Going to the gym, cooking, spending time with my partner and family. I also
make time to keep up-to-date by reading Personnel Today, People Management and
the IDS Review.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

As a non-swimmer scared of deep water, I completed a diving course while on
holiday in Turkey in 2002.

What is the essential tool in your job?

The internet is invaluable for me at the moment as a source of HR-related
information.

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

Gain as much experience as possible of different HR practices in different
business areas. Keep an open mind and be true to yourself.

Do you network?

Yes, it’s important, but I always try to ensure there is added business
benefit attached to it.

If you could do any job in the world what would it be?

A dancer with pop stars on their videos or TV performances.

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

Davina McCall – I like her style.

What’s the worst/best office party you’ve ever attended?

The funniest office party was one I went to with my partner. We thought it
was going to be quite formal and didn’t realise that there was a Ceilidh [an
Irish informal social gathering with folk music and storytelling]. My partner
had to wear green leprechaun ears!

Higgins’ CV

2003 Group HR director, Bland Bankart

2001 HR consultant, Lombard (Royal Bank of Scotland Group)

1999 Area personnel manager, Boots

1998 HR officer, Zeneca (now AstraZeneca)

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