My big break

Paul Culleton is vice-president of HR for the medical devices section of
Johnson & Johnson, where he has worked for the past five years. His 20-year
HR career has included stints at companies including Costain, Burma Oil and banknote
printer De la Rue. Here he describes his biggest break:

"In my first position with De la Rue, I had to start up an HR
organisation from scratch. It was graphic arts company Crosfield Electronics,
of which De La Rue was the parent.

"There was literally nothing there. It was a greenfield site, the
building wasn’t finished and I had no staff. To make matters worse, the whole
company was relocating from London to Hemel Hempstead.

"As the HQ personnel manager, I had to find the talent for the company
and create my own team. As Crosfield is involved in the computer
electronics/colour imaging industry, retention was a top priority.

"The sector is notoriously volatile and it is very difficult to find
the right software engineers. And this was in 1985, which was a boom time for
the industry.

"The whole experience taught me so many things. I am no longer phased
by change management and see that those sort of challenges are do-able. I
suppose I have the view that anything is possible

"It also helped make me a business partner. I worked closely alongside
the board and was extremely fortunate to have someone who was a boss, friend,
colleague and mentor all at the same time.

"But more than anything it just helped me realise that a positive
attitude gets you through most things – as long as it’s backed up by hard work
and dedication."

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