How did you get to where you are now?
I took a fairly traditional route, working my way up the HR career ladder, combined in the earlier years by undertaking part-time studies over three years the first year studying for the Certificate in Personnel Practice qualification, followed by the two-year CIPD qualification. I have also upgraded my membership with the CIPD over the years to member, and two years ago became a fellow.
What takes up most of your time at work?
Talking. Being operational, I spend a significant part of my day either in discussions, interviewing, investigating, consulting I find I am ‘all talked out’ by the end of the day.
Which three attributes are needed to do your job?
The ability to actively listen, consult, and influence.
What legislation causes you the most headaches?
Legislation around the areas of discipline and grievance. I am all in favour of following a fair and objective process in these matters, but the pendulum does seem to have swung a little far in focusing on the ‘i’s being dotted and the t’s being crossed’ throughout the procedure, and the actual offence committed or issue raised is often in danger of paling into insignificance.
How do you keep up with new and changing legislation?
I have to put so much of it into practice on a regular basis, that I have little choice but to keep myself up to date. Reading all the journals helps – Personnel Today and Employers’ Law, of course.
What’s HR’s biggest legal challenge?
Line managers and their compliance. In all fairness, I think there is too much for line managers to know or be aware of at any one time when having to deal with staff matters.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love working in a company of this size (around 100 employees and 150 instructors in the UK), as it gives me the opportunity to really understand the nuts and bolts of what is going on for our business, and to be able to apply relevant and meaningful HR strategies to support our business goals. That and the great atmosphere we have here – it has to be the friendliest organisation I have ever worked for.
What’s the strangest situation you’ve had to deal with?
The case of a gentleman who walked up to the reception desk and showed the receptionist a piercing he had in the most intimate part of his body – and asked for her opinion of it. This resulted in some distress to the receptionist, and led to a very interesting investigation and hearing.
What would be in your room 101?
The M25. I hate it.
What really annoys you in life generally?
Untidiness. There is just no need.
If you could wish away one employment law, what would it be?
It has to be the statutory dismissal procedures. Simply for this reason – let’s say you have overwhelming evidence of guilt but you are found to have failed to follow the statutory procedure and so you pay compensation. Then, you can face that award being uplifted by 50% for failure to follow the procedure.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Remove this culture of over-the-top ‘political correctness’ and return to the days of genuine sincerity and people using their initiative.
When you were young what was your ambition?
I would like to say to be a doctor or a barrister, but in all honesty it was to sing on Pebble Mill at One. Unfortunately this dream was taken from me when the BBC axed the programme – so who knows if I would ever have made it!
Who is your hero?
That would have to be the inventor of chocolate (for eating) who I believe is unknown – but John Cadbury comes a close second.