Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?
I have been an interim manager for quite some time, usually in senior HR roles or project management, so my responsibilities have been really varied, depending on assignment requirements. However, most have had a strong change and project management bias.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a BA (Hons) in business studies.
What are the duties in your new role?
I am responsible for all aspects of the company’s strategic HR agenda for the UK, including training and development.
What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?
Improving retention and engagement, developing and embedding key skills (such as customer service) and leadership development.
What is the most overrated tool in your job?
E-mail – it tends to encourage us to communicate in a negative way rather than really engaging with colleagues and resolving issues.
And what work tool would you like to see invented?
An e-mail blocker or filter (see above).
What is the worst thing about HR?
The legacy of the traditional personnel role and HR’s perceived lack of commercialism.
How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?
By going for a run. It can be very relaxing once you get past the pain barrier.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Having to answer these questions – it’s not what I normally do.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Tenacious, approachable and (hopefully) fun.
What was your lucky break?
My first permanent job after graduating was with Aldi, the discount food retailer, on its graduate training programme. I was there for five years and the principles and commercial awareness I learned then have never left me.
What do you regret about your career?
Of course, with hindsight, there are some things I would have done differently. There is no point in having regrets, but you can learn from your mistakes. Perhaps I could have moved into HR earlier, but then again I really benefited from my commercial experience.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
As long as it didn’t involve me cooking, I would love to have a dinner party with US president Barack Obama, polymath Stephen Fry, and actors Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Renée Zellweger.
Tell us something about yourself that no-one else knows.
There isn’t anything that someone doesn’t know – there is always somebody who can spill the beans.
Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.
Be the best you can be, and the rewards will come.
- Feb 2008-present, HR director, Cabot Financial (consumer debt purchase)
- 2003-2009, Various interim assignments including:HR, BAE Systems, e-Capability Division (weapons, security and aerospace)HR director, Lloyds TSB Consumer BankingHR and operations director, Sevenoaks Sound and Vision (retail)Lead project manager, Home Retail Group
- 2001-2003, HR director, Austin Reed Group (retail)
- 1999-2001, HR, Kingfisher Group/Superdrug (retail)