Profile of six personnel heads

Age 46

Head of HR programmes, Ericsson

Further education BSc (Open University)

First job in HR Three and a half years ago when I moved from engineering to HR to work on competence management and implement the PeopleSoft HR Information System. I decided to stay in HR because I was interested in why things go wrong in organisations and in the positive impact that HR can have in addressing lack of skills and poor communication/information. I developed an interest in encouraging the use of competence management and process mapping to improve the way an organisation works.

First senior role HR systems manager to support a shared service. The move from traditional HR to a service centre environment had a dramatic impact on HR skills requiring a new mixture of IT literacy, call centre and people skills.

What do you like about your present job? I love the Ericsson management style which is highly consensus-driven.

What do you dislike? Dealing with constant change is quite difficult because I think it is human nature is to look for periods of stability and recovery. However, I believe rapid change is necessary, especially if HR wishes to be seen as a business partner.

Career high-points Launching the employee self-service on our intranet. Employees can view/update their personnel record and line managers can make changes using the intranet. It has reduced the amount of HR administration.

Dream HR job It hasn’t got a title but it is about making a difference to the success of the business and believing that I can personally contribute to it.

Who do you admire? My first shopfloor foreman when I started off as an engineering apprentice who taught me that taking time to listen was more important than giving advice.

The next step Moving into global outsourced HR services.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Working a shorter week so that I can spend more time with my family.

Helen Froud

Age 36

Director of corporate services, Worcestershire County Council

Further education/qualifications

BA(hons) geography; IPD via the Open Business School; MBA from Henley Management College.

First job in HR HR consultant, Nationwide Building Society

First senior role County personnel officer, Hereford & Worcester County Council.

What do you like about your present job? The diverse nature of the role, managing a wide range of council services, including HR.

What do you dislike? The sandwiches in the staff restaurant are dreadful.

Career high points My current role has been the high point so far.

Dream HR job Global head of HR for Disney – my children would love it.

Who do you admire? The late David Hopkins, a former head of HR for Nationwide Building Society. He was an incredibly charismatic and supportive manager. Sadly, he was killed in a road accident in 1996.

The next step I am happy where I am right now – I’ve got a large pile of projects to deliver on.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

In a more senior role – I love local government but I would be happy to move back into the private sector.

Sarah Churchman

Age 38

Senior HR manager PricewaterhouseCoopers

Further education/qualifications I did two years of a law degree but hated it and took time out. I am a member of the IPD and I am applying for fellowship.

First job in HR With Coopers & Lybrand as a personnel administrator supporting a manager. I did that for about a year.

First senior role This was a generalist role, looking after a regional office in Croydon with about 100 people in one location.

What do you like about your present job? I love the fact that no one has ever been in this role before. I am focusing on work/life balance which is becoming a wider diversity issue.

What do you dislike? Feeling that masses of creative potential is often stifled by processes.

Career high points I focused on remuneration and on implementing a bonus scheme to replace an overtime system which was heavily entrenched in the culture of the organisation. A bonus plan, as opposed to overtime, is appropriate for efforts on work/life balance because it concentrates on outputs as opposed to inputs.

Dream HR job Heading a team to do what I am doing, which recognises that sources of growth and innovation come from a diverse workforce and that we can relish that diversity.

Who do you admire? Nelson Mandela – for everything he has done.

The next step Who knows? I have always been mobile.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

I want to be fit and healthy and for my children to be a continued source of joy. But in terms of my career I want to be doing something that makes a difference like this role – something which is increasingly important to me.

Marc Auckland

Age 43

Chief knowledge manager BT Worldwide

Further education/qualifications MBA, Fellow of the IPD; City & Guilds in telecommunications.

First job in HR As training consultant in what was BT’s management consultancy unit

First senior role Head of interpersonal skills development.

What you like about your present job?

BT has been a great employer, providing me with 14 careers within one company. I am privileged to work with some key and visionary players both in the company, across business and government who see the new economy changes underway. Knowledge management and intellectual capital are new fields and key to the emergent economy. HR will become as, if not more important than the “senior ” company functions such as finance‚Ķ and not before time. My job allows me to learn, take risks and share learning.

What do you dislike? People and organisations who wait for change instead of creating or influencing change. People who measure worth purely on tangible assets. People and organisations who suck the fun out of work.

Career high points MBA graduation (because I passed the entrance exams to join the Royal Navy just before O levels and later left the Royal Navy on mutual agreement based on my inability to accept orders without offering alternative options). There have been lots of other high points such as being headhunted or my CEO accepting my report and recommendations but recently invitations from businesses and institutions like the EU to present on the mergent economy and knowledge management.

Dream HR job I would create and work in the job of chief knowledge officer for Europe as a community – helping people, organisations and governments identify and exploit the collective knowledge and learning contained in this diverse community.

Who do you admire? Many personal acquaintances but at the renowned level it would be Mother Theresa for the perfect blend of faith, conviction, obstinacy and humility. Leonardo da Vinci for creativity, individuality and self-belief.

The next step Helping my company and the networks I am involved in to develop the new business models, employment contracts and environments for the new economy. To help people see learning as lifelong and knowledge as the critical, personal and organisational capital for success.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Financially secure, enjoying life with my family, friends and colleagues. Still learning and exploring but with a greater emphasis on putting something back into the community.

Andrew Forrest

Age 63

Learning and development director, the Industrial Society

Further education/ qualifications BA (in PPE from Oxford) Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts

First job in HR About 100 years ago! I was recruitment and training officer for engineering firm Dexion’s manufacturing division.

First senior role Calor Gas group personnel manager.

What you like about your present job?

The sheer variety. I’m dealing at any one time with between six and 12 different clients from all sectors including large multinationals and tiny charities.

What do you dislike? Clients who say something is urgent when it isn’t.

Career high points Going to Calor Gas which had 3,500 employees at the time. It was a green field job – with the opportunity to create salary structure, and management development from scratch for a company that had 100 sites across the country.

Later on, with the Industrial Society I designed a self-managed learning programme for a big government department. It became large scale but it was also state-of-the-art.

Dream HR job I’m almost in it. I’m very happy and very fortunate.

Who do you admire? Those managers and people who are fighting a lonely battle, such as team leaders in a company where the atmosphere is horrible and there is no support. I admire people who are up against it but hanging on through sheer guts.

The next step Retirement and consultancy work.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

I am exceptionally busy with work at the moment and haven’t thought far ahead but I’d like to be hanging on with some consultancy work and taking a promised trip across Canada and the Rockies.

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