The profile of personnel managers at top level received a blow last week with the resignation of Mike Kinski from Stagecoach.
Kinski was one of the few HR directors to have become chief executive of a major British company. He left following a dispute with founder and chairman Brian Souter, and has been replaced by finance director Keith Cochrane.
"HR people who get to the board tend to be significant players as they have such a rich background - they know more about the organisation and how it actually functions."
This makes them more inclined to state that an issue requires attention, while others would keep their heads down, she said.
A former business colleague of Kinski, who declined to be named, said his departure will prompt a drop in impetus for his ambitious programme of training and development at the group. "Wherever he has worked you have seen promotion of himself, his ideas and human resources."
But a spokesman for Stagecoach pledged continued support for training. "The company has invested £1m-plus in open learning in UK Buses, South West Trains, in Hong Kong and New Zealand. That was a policy decision by the company and it would be inappropriate for it to change."
Reaction from the City was in Kinski's favour. The share price dropped 6 per cent, while the Financial Times Lex column regretted the loss of his operational expertise. "If Stagecoach is to attract and retain the talent it needs it will have to put in place more conventional management structures," it concluded.