Recent job announcements see Virgin Group appoint Nikki Humphrey from a leading role at John Lewis Partnership to a new role as chief people officer; John Lewis will replace her with the Post Office’s current chief people officer, Lisa Cherry.
Knowledge of the brand
Multinational venture capital conglomerate Virgin Group has appointed Nikki Humphrey to the newly created role of chief people officer. She will report directly to Josh Bayliss, CEO of Virgin Group. Humphrey joins Virgin from her role as executive director, people at John Lewis Partnership (JLP), a position she has held since 2020. Prior to her role at JLP, Nikki held the position of chief people officer at Virgin Atlantic. Josh Bayliss, chief executive officer at Virgin Group, said: “Virgin’s founder, Richard Branson, has always said that if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your business. Nikki’s knowledge of Virgin‘s brand, values and culture will be invaluable to leading a first-class, uniquely Virgin people experience. “It‘s the right time for us post pandemic to further strengthen our people team in this way – by recruiting a chief people officer – as it will bring even greater focus to this aspect of Virgin’s purpose. Nikki’s significant experience offers us an excellent opportunity to build on the success we create by focusing on our people.” Humphrey said that although it had been hard to leave John Lewis, she could not wait to “get stuck in” to her task of bringing “this unique company’s culture – built over more than 50 years – to life” via a new purpose and vision strategy.
Strong sense of purpose
John Lewis Partnership has chosen Lisa Cherry as new executive director for people to “develop and deliver the people strategy” for the partnership. She will join in early September, replacing Nikki Humphrey who is to rejoin the Virgin Group. Cherry is currently group chief people officer for the Post Office and has more than 20 years’ experience working in operational and HR leadership roles. “Lisa will continue to develop and deliver the people strategy for the partnership’s 78,000 partners, all co-owners in the business”, JLP said. “She will lead our work to create a people proposition that rewards and develops our partners, provides exceptional health and wellbeing support and improves our diversity and inclusion, so we reflect the communities we serve.” JLP chair Sharon White paid tribute to Nikki Humphrey, saying “Nikki made a major contribution to the partnership, working tirelessly to set the foundations for a modern, more relevant partner proposition informed by partners.” Cherry, however, will bring “a wealth of experience and an impressive background in retail. Lisa has a strong sense of purpose, which makes her a great fit for the partnership”.
UK recruiter Acorn has appointed Emily Meredith as group head of HR. She has been tasked with future-proofing the 40-branch firm’s internal infrastructure in a role that will give greater focus to the structure of its HR division and the organisation more widely. Meredith brings about 20 years’ experience in HR and was previously HR adviser and HR manager with Acorn. She said of her new role: “I am delighted to be making a real difference in my role as group head of HR through the enhancement of current HR practices, and by introducing new processes and initiatives. By delivering on our HR strategy, as a HR team, we are able to add real value to the business.” Meredith’s appointment comes alongside the creation of an all-new internal recruiter role that has also been introduced at Acorn in response to high demand for its services, which has been taken up by Richard Hilliard. Acorn has appointed almost 60 new members of staff since summer 2021 as the UK workforce feels the effects of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues. Bernard Ward, managing director at Acorn, said Meredith’s appointment was “reflective of the crucial position we find ourselves in, as a business poised for the next phase of its development”.
Caroline Andrews has joined the IAG Cargo executive team as chief people officer at a time when the business is looking to hire 500 new employees into a range of roles. She joins the cargo handling division of International Airlines Group from DHL Express where she held the role of vice president of HR, UK and Ireland. Previously she served as group head of HR at Carphone Warehouse. At IAG Cargo, Andrews will focus on developing IAG Cargo’s talent strategy globally, overseeing employee experience for a growing global workforce across 2,250 colleagues. David Shepherd, managing director at IAG Cargo said: “Caroline’s experience will support our ambition to boost our employer brand and create an environment that inspires, where curiosity, continued learning and a growth mindset is promoted.” Andrews said her role would see her working with the senior leadership to “put in place long-term strategies that unlock the potential of our growing workforce across the globe and drives a culture that make IAG Cargo an employer of choice”.
Specialist global insurer Hiscox has chosen Nicola Grant as the group’s new chief HR officer. In her new role, Grant will be based in London, reporting to group CEO Aki Hussain, and will join the group executive committee. She will drive the group’s people strategy and lead its team of 90 HR professionals around the world. This will include oversight of its HR policies and procedures, in order to attract, retain and develop great people to support the next phase of the group’s growth. She replaces Amanda Brown, who will retire in June after 15 years at Hiscox. Grant has more than 20 years’ HR experience gained across the UK, USA and Europe – most recently being based in Amsterdam. This includes 17 years at ING Group in a range of group and business division roles, where she oversaw HR transformation, redesign of the business models for analytics and innovation, and enhanced succession planning while championing diversity and equity. Hussain said Grant would bring “fresh perspective and thinking to our plans and ambitions. As a global business, Nicola’s multi-market experience really appealed to Hiscox”. Grant said: “I can’t wait to contribute to that through how we attract and retain great people.” She will take up her role from 1 September 2022 subject to regulatory consents.
International legal firm Osborne Clarke has appointed Anika Chandra as incentives specialist partner. Chandra brings a wealth of experience in employee incentives, the design and implementation of both share-based and cash incentive arrangements and implementing international share plans globally. She regularly advises on the impact of corporate transactions, acquisitions, disposals and investments on employee incentives, and she also advises on a range of employment tax issues. Chandra is chairperson of the Share Plan Lawyers Group and also sits on the Lexis PSL Share Incentives Consultant Editorial Board and joins from Shoosmiths, where she was a partner and headed the incentives practice, having previously worked at Stephenson Harwood, Allen & Overy and CMS. She will work closely with Michael Carter, who heads Osborne Clarke’s incentives team, which is part of the firm’s broader nine-partner UK tax practice. Osborne Clarke’s tax team work closely with major international corporates and FTSE250 companies advising on all manner of taxation issues, from investment funds, corporate transactions and property tax, right through to employee and expatriate services, private client, disputes and VAT.
Culture where it’s needed
Global law firm Kennedys has appointed a new HR director to lead its transformation plans. Alan Demirkaya will lead a team spanning the UK, Europe, Middle East, the Americas and Asia Pacific, reporting to global managing partner, Suzanne Liversidge. He replaces Caroline Wilson who has retired after more than 10 years heading up HR for Kennedys, during which time the firm grew from 300 to more than 2,400 people. Demirkaya was formerly global head of HR for real estate and corporate transactions at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, where he had worked since 2014. As global HR director for Kennedys, he will be responsible for devising its people strategy and advising on all aspects of the people agenda including policies, benefits, recruitment, learning and development, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. A key project will be supporting the delivery of Kennedys’ WorkWise global transformation programme which has seen continued investment across the firm’s offices to upgrade the working environments of its people including the London team’s move into the Walkie-Talkie building later this year. He said: “Kennedys has also continued to grow throughout the pandemic, which is a clear and positive sign that the culture is where it needs to be.” The firm has also just announced it has promoted its largest ever number of lawyers to partner. With 22 new partners joining the partnership, across Australia, EMEA, North America and the UK, it has more than doubled the number promoted last year and takes the firm’s total worldwide partner count to 293.
An ethical view
Patti Wasson is the new chief people and ethics officer at international corporate relocation business Graebel. She will lead Graebel’s global HR team, including employee relations; diversity, equity and inclusion; talent management; learning and leadership development; and total rewards. Wasson has been recognised for her ability to align people and business strategies and will bring about 30 years of strategic human resources experience and leadership to the role. Previously serving as the head of HR and ethics officer at Assurance IQ, a Prudential subsidiary, her expertise lies in the thoughtful leadership of workforce development, accelerating inclusion and diversity efforts and developing high-performing teams. As chief ethics officer, Wasson will look at Graebel’s business practices and decisions from an ethical standpoint to ensure the company makes choices in line with its core values.