Top job – Bev Messinger

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was head of HR at Coventry City Council. I joined in January 2003, when Coventry had just been ranked one of 13 ‘poor’ councils in the country under the government’s inspection system. There was a huge transformation agenda to deliver in HR and across the council, which attracted me to the role. We won the HR Team of the Year award for local government in 2006.

What qualifications do you hold?

Management diploma, Warwick Business School fellow of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

I report to the chief executive and have a team of approximately 500 staff. This new role brings together HR, customer service, IT and workforce development. All these services have a key role in promoting, facilitating and delivering customer service, internally and externally.

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

Working at pace in an increasingly complex and ambiguous environment, managing talent as well as equity, continuing to gain recognition for the contribution of HR to successful business, and finally, attracting high-calibre people to the profession.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Emotional intelligence.

And the most overrated?

Spreadsheets – mainly because I can’t make them work.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Managers abandoning their responsibilities and HR having to sweep them up.

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

Being presented with a puppy as a leaving present – slightly more original than a gold watch.

Who is your ultimate hero?

My mum.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

Anything to do with the ‘financial envelope’ – there is no envelope.

How do you fill your spare time?

I like to cook, but my new hobby is clay pigeon shooting – great for stress relief.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate, productive and impatient.

What is your favourite web page?

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Any 1980s disco classic.

What is your worst habit?

Swearing. Other than that I am an angel.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving college to get a job at my local council as an office junior.

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

Ray Mears (pictured right), a wind-up radio, and an endless supply of tea.

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

Victoria Wood, because I’m a frustrated comedienne.

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

Jeremy Clarkson – a fellow petrol head.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.
Fly high, but stay grounded.


June 2007-present
Director of customer and workforce services, Coventry City Council

Jan 2003-May 2007
Head of HR, Coventry City Council

Apr 1999-Dec 2002
Head of HR, Milton Keynes Council

Oct 1996-Mar 1999
Head of personnel and training, Northants County Council

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