Personal Profile

Kim Birnie has been appointed Tesco’s first director of learning after a 13-year career in HR. She joins from crisp manufacturer Frito Lay and has been head of HR at Walkers Snack Foods. Birnie also held senior HR posts at Kentucky Fried Chicken and Barclays de Zoete Wedd Services.


What is the most important lesson you have learnt in your career?


There are three – encourage new ideas, always choose your boss carefully and invest time in developing a talented team.


What is the strangest situation you have had to deal with at work?


Winning a rubber chicken recognition award while at KFC.


Imagine being stranded on a desert island with enough food for only two people. Who would you choose as your companion and why?


My partner. I enjoy his company and as I am a vegetarian he could happily have the meat and I would have the chocolate.


If you had three wishes to change your company, what would they be?


That we continue to achieve our corporate goals ahead of plan and that we live our values in delivering them. I don’t have a third.


What is the best thing about working in HR?


We play a key role in shaping the vision of the organisation and building the capability to deliver the business plans. We have involvement with all areas of the business. We can measure our results very tangibly.


What is your worst?


I don’t think there is one for me.


You have stumbled upon a time machine hidden in the vaults of your company building. What time period would you visit and why?


The 1930s – it was a creative and decadent era, focused on having fun. It also had great style reflected in the art, furniture and clothes of the time.


If you could adopt the management style of a historical character, whose would you adopt and why?


Gandhi, because he exhibited many excellent leadership qualities and behaviours – vision, passion and empathy among many.


How do you get to work?


By car.


If you were to write a book, which subject would you choose to write about?


Sports cars.


What is the greatest risk you ever took?


A flight in a Tiger Moth with an insane pilot.


2000 Tesco’s first director of learning


1998 Director for organisation and management at Frito Lay


1997 Head of HR for Walkers Snack Foods


1995 HR director (commercial) at Walkers Snack Foods


1994 HR manager (operations) for Kentucky Fried Chicken


1993 HR and compensation planning manager, Pizza Hut


1990 International personnel manager, Barclays de Zoete Wedd Services


1987 HR consultant, Organisation Resources Counsellors

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