Top job: Caron Hitchen

Top job Caron Hitchen, director of HR, London Ambulance Service

Caron Hitchen has been appointed director of HR at the London Ambulance Service. In her new role she will be responsible for all HR issues at the trust with 70 sites across London employing about 4,000 staff.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was HR director at Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust in Croydon,responsible for all HR and training issues for a workforce of approximately 2,800.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

My immediate focus is on introducing the new national pay and terms and conditions for all staff, while maintaining good employee relations. I will be supporting the continuing service improvement programme in line with local and national drivers, with a view to London Ambulance becoming a gold standard service provider.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

The term ‘trajectory’ is currently the buzzword in the NHS.

What is the worst thing about HR?

As much as you might be strategically-focused, HR is often measured by the transactional performance.

What is your essential tool in HR?

Emotional intelligence and robustness.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

As a single mum, seeking voluntary redundancy fairly early in my career to take a career break for a year and be a mum. With the benefit of hindsight, however, it was probably the best thing I ever did and set my career path leading to my current position.

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

Be prepared and willing to deal with the unexpected. Look forward to the challenge and always remember that even when you are doing the difficult jobs, you are dealing with people and this should influence your approach.

How do you fill your spare time?

I love socialising with my friends, going to the theatre and listening to live music.

What was the last book you read?

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson.

What is your essential TV viewing?

The TV channels are very much the control of my teenage daughters. I generally put my foot down to watch the news at least once a day.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Anything – I love dancing.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?

My leaving party from my last job was great as it involved champagne, lots of dancing and the following day spent in the Sanctuary health spa.

Hitchen’s CV

2005 HR director, London Ambulance Service
2000 HR director, Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust
1999 Acting director of HR, Ealing Hospital NHS Trust
1993 Various HR roles, Ealing Hospital NHS Trust
1986 Personnel officer and personnel manager, BT

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