Carol Cockcroft joins the British Council on 1 March as personnel director
and member of the senior management strategy team. She moves from Shell where
she spent 13 years.
What’s the biggest challenge facing you in your new job?
Getting out and learning first hand how HR and change practices can make an
impact at the heart of the British Council’s work. Then, together with the
strategy team, responding to, and building on, the results of our recent HR
The biggest challenge facing the HR profession?
Ensuring HR and change management strategies are aligned with business
needs, and HR is a full business partner. Secondly, building a climate which
enables people to grow and give of their best at work AND balance home
The strangest situation you’ve dealt with?
Confidentially investigating allegations of people receiving salmon, caught
by poachers, in exchange for work favours.
The best thing about HR people?
What’s the worst?
Their tendency to find superficial solutions, rather than fixing more
difficult underlying problems.
What’s been your best career move (apart from this one)?
Becoming HR manager for Shell UK’s retail and commercial businesses. I took
part in managing significant change programmes in both areas. This opportunity
arose suddenly, as three months before I’d returned from my second maternity
leave to do a relatively quiet job.
What’s your greatest strength?
My ability to link ideas and solutions to bring about change.
Your least appealing characteristic?
Lack of patience with transport delays.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Things with the children. We love the Science and Natural History museums in
What would you like more time for?
Painting and drawing from life.
What would you rescue if your house was on fire?
The children and our two cats.
Your dream holiday.
An archaeological dig, unearthing early human fossils, with a French chef
cooking dinner in the evening.
Who do you admire?
Marie Curie. She combined a brilliant mind, pioneering work, and being a
Who irritates you?
Crusading presenters of consumer television programmes. I hate the way they
take up a moral fight on behalf of others.
What car do you drive?
An old Fiesta, but I do have a new aluminium framed bike, which I ride to
What’s your favourite tipple?
A good burgundy.