My mentor

Bruce Robertson, head of HR at Pret a Manger, on the qualities that make
Kathryn Matz, who owns an HR consultancy, his career confidante since their
time together at Harrods

Bruce Robertson’s career leapt forward when his mentor presented him with the
sort of opportunity that not even a fool would turn down.

At the tender age of 25, he found himself promoted to head of HR for
Harrods, responsible for 6,000 employees and a team of 18 HR managers and

Now head of HR for Pret à Manger, Robertson met Kathryn Matz when they both
worked at Harrods. He was personnel manager of the Harrods fashion directorate
while Matz, who now owns a management consultancy in San Francisco, was HR

Robertson describes Matz as tenacious with a tough management style.
"She’s never been afraid to challenge things or to change things," he
says. They share the same drive, says Roberston, but he wishes his memory was
more like hers. "Kathryn never forgets a thing and has an amazing working

Robertson admires Matz’s ability to link everything HR does to business. She
taught him that if the profession is to be accepted by the business, then it
has to prove its influence and be able to offer serious arguments behind any
desires for change.

But his most significant lesson was learning not to be knocked back by age
prejudices, which he encountered when he was promoted.

Matz left four years ago to return to the US, but they are still in touch.
Robertson still bounces ideas off her, but jokes that he hopes that these days
it is more of a two-way process.

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