HR chiefs urge CIPD to beware ‘vast egos’ when hiring new deputy to succeed assistant director-general Duncan Brown

Senior HR professionals have warned the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that it faces a tough task finding a successor to assistant director-general Duncan Brown, as the body revealed it was no longer accepting applications for the post.

Whoever replaces Brown will have a big job trying to take the CIPD forward, Personnel Today has been told. The £125,000-per-year assistant director-general role is widely seen as the driving force of the institute, which is headed by director-general Geoff Armstrong.

Graham White, head of HR and organisational development at Surrey County Council, said: “One fear is that we may replace the vastness of Duncan’s HR professionalism with someone else’s vast ego.”

Brown, who will leave at the end of March, has been widely credited with raising the profile of HR. He became the public face of the CIPD at a critical time for the profession, and there are fears that his successor will not be able to maintain his work.

Beverley Shears, HR director at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said Brown “ensured a commercial approach by specialising in attracting vice-presidents who were heavy hitters and household names in HR”.

“The CIPD is [now] much more innovative about the issues on its research agenda,” she said.

Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, added that she would be “sad” to see Brown go.

“The next person will need to be able to relate to the various sectors the CIPD represents and build relationships that keep things real. It needs to have a human face, connect with people and have an understanding of what they do,” she said.

Emma Hughes, director of HR at Specsavers, said the CIPD was “in danger of losing touch with its foot soldiers” and had a “long way to go in identifying with the majority of members”.

Brown, who spent five years in the role, will become a director in the HR practice at consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The CIPD confirmed that “lots” of people had applied.

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