Top job: Andy Cross

What is your new role and who do you report to?

I’m returning to Virgin Atlantic as head of learning & development, reporting to the director of organisational development.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was director of HR at insurance company UnumProvident, responsible for helping the leadership team define the culture, values and leadership capability to achieve the business success.

What qualifications do you hold?

I’ve completed an MSc in people and organi-sational development at Roffey Park manage-ment school and I’m MCIPD qualified.

What are your responsibilities in your new role and how big is your team?

I am responsible, with a small, perfectly-formed team, for defining the overall approach to developing people at the airline. This is to ensure we continue to deliver a superb service to our customers and make the most of our team’s talent.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

Our ambition at the airline is simple, to ‘Grow a profitable airline, which people love to fly and where people love to work’. If my team has visibly moved the company towards this ambition then I’ll be proud of our success.

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

Realising that the HR challenges are the business challenges.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Enjoy whatever you do.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Time – any opportunity to understand your business from the perspective of the customer and your best people.

And the most over-rated?

Lazy use of e-mail.

What is the worst thing about HR?

There isn’t a worst thing about HR – some of the situations can be tough but as professions go it is very positive.

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

I’ve had several office party fancy dress situations that have felt very strange at the time. This summer I was asked to be ‘King of the Carnival’ and trusted others to select the outfit and apply the glitter – never again. Until next time.

Who is your ultimate guru?

I find many people inspirational and I’ve recently been fortunate enough to work with Frank Dick, an exceptional sports and business coach.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon you’ve heard?

Anything that is an attempt to ‘soften’ or ‘hide’ the real meaning – for example, downsizing, or create a false impression of intelligence by confusing others.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Anything upbeat like Jamie Oliver and most of Sky Sports, except wrestling.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

I will work with anyone but I’m very fussy about who I would pick to be on my team.

How do you fill your spare time?

I have a great family, with three gorgeous kids.

What was the last book you read?

Lance Armstrong’s biography It’s Not About the Bike – it’s about his journey back after cancer. It’s a really inspiring story that shows how strong and brave people can be when it really matters. A friend who has been unwell recently has shown me it’s not just the superstars who are inspirational.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

It’s not the song, it’s the people who drag me.


Oct 2005-present
Head of learning and development, Virgin Atlantic

Director of HR, UnumProvident

Learning and development manager, Virgin Atlantic

HR manager, Friends Provident

Customer services team leader, Friends Provident


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