Socpo president Keith Handley received his biggest career break when his
mentor put him forward to chair a national group.
Bryan Watson was director of personnel at the GLC in 1986 when he
recommended Handley, then assistant director of personnel at Bradford
Metropolitan Council, for the job of chairman of the newly formed Metropolitan
Authorities Recruitment Agency’s Older Workers Campaign Group.
"He gave me my first foray on to the national HR stage," explains
Handley. "Bryan was the leading light in the formation of Metra which,
even at that early stage, was promoting the issue of age awareness and anti-age
discrimination – which has continued to be an important issue for me throughout
The best piece of advice Handley received from Watson is, "Even if you
are at the top of the organisation, you still need somebody to lean on".
Handley leaned on Watson throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s when
Bradford Metropolitan Council cut spending by £60m with the majority coming
from redundancy programmes.
"The role of the personnel director at these times can be a very lonely
one, having to present reports to the board on how to achieve savings while
making sure employees are leaving the organisation with their dignity
intact," he says.
Watson, now retired, is a member of the CIPD’s careers and counselling forum
and Socpo’s pensions and age diversity group, which Handley chairs.