Tania Cressey joined Speedibake, part of Associated British Foods, in November 1999 in the newly-created role of HR manager. Based at Northampton, her brief is to work closely with the board to develop strategy and introduce initiatives across all three sites
What is the most important lesson you have learnt in your career?
When dealing with people, expect the unexpected.
What is the strangest situation you have had to deal with at work?
Going on a business trip to Moscow several years ago and being asked for payment in nail polish and other personal care products (manufactured by the company I was working for), in return for a tour of the city by taxi.
Imagine being stranded on a desert island with enough food for only two people. Who would you choose as your companion?
Chris Cairns, New Zealand’s all-round cricketer. I wouldn’t be too bothered about food if he was my companion.
If you had three wishes to change the company, what would they be?
For people to have more time to be proactive, for the business to have a better understanding of how HR can add value, and for every employee to have the opportunity to realise their full potential.
What is the best thing about HR?
Being central to decision-making which will change the business.
What is the worst?
People who think HR exists purely for administration, tea and sympathy.
You stumble upon a time machine in the vaults of your offices. What period would you visit and why?
Vienna at the end of the 18th century. I would love to meet Mozart and see him “live” in concert.
If you could adopt the management style of an historical character, whose would you adopt and why?
John F Kennedy. He had the ability to influence people with his charismatic approach.
What would you do if you had more spare time?
Spend more time with my son. His needs are simple: play, eat, sleep, play again. I could learn a lot from his lighthearted approach to life.
If you were to write a book, which subject would you choose?
Dieting. I’ve always had a problem with my weight and have tried numerous different approaches. I now consider myself an expert on how (theoretically) to lose weight. Of course, you have to put it into practice to make it work.
What is your greatest strength?
I’ll tackle any challenge that presents itself and never give up on anything.
What is your least appealing characteristic?
I’m inclined to be over-critical. I set myself very high standards and expect other people to do the same.
What is the greatest risk you ever took?
Moving from a head office HR role in Manchester, to a site personnel manager’s position in Hull. It seemed like the end of the earth and involved leaving friends and family, selling my house and moving on my own to a place where I knew no one.
CV: Tania Cressey
1999 to date HR manager, Speedibake
1996-1999 Personnel manager, Kara Foods
1993-1996 Personnel manager, Robert McBride, Hull site
1990-1993 HR manager, Robert McBride Group
1987-1990 HR co-ordinator, Robert McBride Group