Top job: Alan Schofield, director of talent, consumer research body Which?

Where were you working before, and what were your duties?

I was head of HR for the biggest bank in Dubai for five years, and have spent the past six months studying for an Open University degree in history. Before that, I was HR director at the Inchcape Group.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a BSc as well as an MSc in industrial relations from the London School of Economics.

What are the duties in your new role?

I’m responsible for creating a talent pool to help Which? face the challenges of increasing competition, and to develop a culture of learning and innovation to help serve our customers better.I have a team of eight and report to the chief executive.

What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?

The main challenge is helping businesses succeed in an era of talent shortage, flexible working, changing technology and increasing competition. We need to examine those organisations that have succeeded – as well as those that haven’t – to understand why, and the contribution HR can make.

What are the essential tools in your job?

An understanding of the dynamics of the business – what makes it tick – and a senseof humour.

And the most overrated?

Training. Let’s stop kidding ourselves and concentrate on helping our people develop themselves instead.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Its fascination with new tools and techniques.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

During a business trip to Yemen, the taxi taking me from Aden to Sana’a lost its gearbox on a mountain pass. I had to hitch a ride in a lorry, complete with ghat(mild narcotic)-chewing driver.

Who is your ultimate hero?

My wife. Juggling family commitments makes going to the office seem easy.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

All of it.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Innovative, proactive, strategic – well, I would, wouldn’t I?

What song gets you on the dance floor?

I can’t dance. Ask my wife.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Packing upmy family to take our first overseas assignment in Athens.

What three items would you take with you on a desert island?

My PC (hopefully the island would have internet access), a set of Alexander McCall-Smith’s books, and my Spanish language course, which has remained in its box for years. I could then finally learn a new language.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

My philosophy of life is to try to be nice to as many people as possible. You never know when you’re going to meet them again, but you can bet you will.

Schofield’s CV

  • Dec 2006-present: Director of talent, Which?

  • Nov 2004-2006: HR adviser, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

  • Nov 2000-Oct 2004: HR director, National Bank of Dubai

  • Jan 1995-Oct 2000: HR director, Inchcape/Inchcape Motors, London

  • Jan 1990-Dec 1994: HR director, Inchcape Middle East, Bahrain

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