As Personnel Today's number one Power Player for the second year running and winner of numerous other awards, David Fairhurst, HR chief at McDonald's, is no stranger to publicity. In fact, part of his success is probably largely down to his media-friendly, down-to-earth persona.
Unlike lots of other leading HR directors, he's not a fan of jargon and has a knack of making his people policies seem like common sense, both to McDonald's staff and the general public.
As senior vice-president, chief people officer (northern Europe) for one of the most well-known brands in the world, Fairhurst is not afraid to put himself in the line of fire. His one man crusade to get the term 'McJob' rewritten in the English dictionary may not have been a total success, but it certainly made people sit up and take note.
The straight-talker from Wigan readily admits that he likes to challenge people. "There is a bit of 'Northerness' about me," he says.
"I've been relatively disruptive because I'm not what people expect. I remember in a previous job doing a speech where everyone was expecting a corporate, suited and booted type with a posh accent. But all my examples were 'when I was talking to Burt last week', and 'when I was talking to people on the shop floor'."
Despite working in the HR field for more than a decade, including a stint at supermarket giant Tesco - the largest private sector employer in the UK - Fairhurst's enthusiasm for the profession remains undimmed.
"I'm really excited to be working in HR," he says. "I've tried to move beyond the debate about whether we deserve to be at the table or the debate about the function itself - that's passé. As basic as it sounds, it has to be about adding value to the business."
And to add value, he says, HR practitioners have to be able to think commercially.
"The way to get value is to think of the business first and HR second. Also that dirty word measurement - the connection between people, sales and