Andrew Marston could never complain there wasn't enough variety in his job. As force personnel director at Greater Manchester Police (GMP), he looks after a workforce that spans accountants and analysts to dog handlers and doctors - not to mention 8,000 police officers, 400 special constables, and an HR team of 140.
"There's a huge sweep of stuff that makes life endlessly fascinating," says the 50-year-old, who arrived at GMP from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council in 1995. "You've got the diversity but have a much more focused purpose. Local government can be fragmented - it's education, it's social services, it's dustbins - and it can be hard to get a fix on what your priorities are and where you are going as an organisation.
"Here, what we're about is fighting crime and protecting people, and everything we do fits into that context," he says.
During his 10 years in the job, Marston has demonstrated the vital part that HR plays in this context. Key initiatives he has introduced have included the development and implementation of a performance appraisal process - linked to policing and business plans - a best-value review of all training and development activity, and an ongoing leadership programme, designed to empower senior staff at a more local level.
"We're trying to get away from the centralised approach," says Marston. The leadership programme is one of a number of initiatives he and chief constable, Michael Todd, are working on to change the culture of the organisation.
Marston says: "For me, the priority has been supporting the chief constable in the shift to become a more devolved organisation, with a decentralised decision-making process, and ensuring staff are equipped for that, and that HR processes support it."
The past two years has also seen GMP's biggest-ever recruitment drive, Project 8000. By recruiting 1,000 people, the force passed the 8,000 police-officer mark for the first time. Normally, GMP would only recruit 300-400 in a year.
"We had little forewarning of it and, politically, it was very important - we couldn't fail," says Marston. "It was all credit to my team, who worked their socks off and got up and running straight away with some innovative strategies."
Strategies included a rejoiners' campaign, in which GMP sent postcards to officers who had left in the past 10 years and a two-day recruitment open event. It was inundated: 30,000 application packs were sent out and 10,000