Head of HR, London & Europe, Calyon, Crédit Agricole CIB
Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?
I worked at ABN AMRO as head of HR, UK & Ireland. I was responsible for all HR activities, and led a 100-strong HR department. I worked in a matrix structure (I had three bosses), for a company with its head office overseas.
What qualifications do you hold?
I am a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
What are the duties in your new role?
I am head of HR and communications for Calyon London, the corporate and investment banking arm of Crédit Agricole. I am also head of HR for Europe (excluding France) and have responsibility for co-ordinating HR activity.
What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?
The current global economic environment will generate an employer-led market for talent, something we have not seen for a few years in the City. Costs will feature significantly, and HR will need to be resourceful and creative in both cost-containment and delivery of high-quality services. The focus will be on implementing fair and transparent remuneration policies, with greater emphasis on company performance, corporate values and behaviours, as well as individual contribution.
What is the most overrated tool in your job?
Manager self-service. Great idea, but try getting an investment banker to go into an HR system to approve someone’s holiday.
And what work tool would you like to see invented?
I would like a fully-integrated global HR and finance people data system, with common methodology. A system that has a global data directory, so different categories of headcount are described in the same way across the different countries.
What is the worst thing about HR?
Not many people really understand what we do. We are either viewed as administrators, following legal processes or management instructions or, as is the case currently, we are perceived as the ‘grim reaper’, involved in wielding the axe to cut headcount.
How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?
Ideally, I’d like to spend time in the gym with my i-Pod on full blast. However, more often than not, I end a bad day with a glass of wine.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Energetic, decisive and principled.
What was your lucky break?
Serving my HR apprenticeship at BT. I really did cover all aspects of HR and, at the time, the function was truly cutting edge.
What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?
Get to grips with the basics. It essential to understand everything from a contract of employment to a compromise agreement and everything in between. And learn about the importance of getting the people data right.
Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.
When in doubt, eat chocolate.
Head of HR, London and Europe, Calyon, Crédit Agricole CIB (corporate and investment banking)
Nov 2002-May 2008
Head of HR, UK & Ireland, ABN AMRO (banking)
Apr 2001-Jul 2002
BT Ignite head of HR for global accounts, Eastern Europe & UK sales and service, BT (telecoms)
Sep 2000-Apr 2001
BT Ignite head of HR European joint ventures, BT
Oct 1998-Aug 2000
Head of equal opportunities, BT