Top job: Barry Towell, HR manager, Meningitis Trust

Barry Towell has joined the Meningitis Trust as HR manager. Previously, he spent more than 20 years at Stroud District Council as personnel and training manager.

What will be the duties in your new role?

Providing an HR service to the trust throughout the UK, and to its sister charities in the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

I hope to further improve the already high standard of HR policies, and re-gain raccreditation as an Investors in People organisation. I also want to develop the Meningitis Trust as an excellent employer and enjoyable place to work.

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

Recruiting staff into the service environment; integrating flexible working patterns across the workforce; retaining and retraining staff, especially older workers, as jobs continue to change; and reducing stress in the workplace.

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

A disagreement between two employees who both demanded that the other be dismissed or they would resign. As there weren’t any grounds to dismiss either, both resigned.

Who is your ultimate guru?

Dolly Parton: for her business acumen, the control of her career and song copyrights, and her outlook on life.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

Overuse of the word ‘strategy’, so that it is now meaningless.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Speedway racing on Sky Sports.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

A senior manager who ‘consults’ but never changes their views, no matter how strong the arguments are against.

How do you fill your spare time?

Cooking, gardening, aquafit and travel.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Changing career from analytical chemistry into personnel/HR.

What is the essential tool in your job?

An ability to understand people and what motivates them.

And the most overrated?

Complicated performance payment systems.

What is the homepage on your computer?

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

Understand the business, its culture and how you can help make it a better environment to work in.

What was the last book you read?

Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore.

What song gets you on the dancefloor?

Abba’s Dancing Queen, although I don’t usually need much prompting.

What would be your dream job?

A lock keeper on a rural French canal.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?

Timothy Spall, a great character actor and canal enthusiast.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

My guru – Dolly Parton!

Towell’s CV

2005 HR manager, Meningitis Trust
1989 Personnel and training manager, Stroud District Council
1982 Personnel officer, Stroud District Council

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