Top job… Collette Benham

What is your new role?

Director of HR & corporate services, Argyll Community Housing Association.

Where were you working before, and what were your duties?

I was an HR consultant/manager, managing an outsourced HR function on behalf of a housing association based in Sittingbourne, Kent.

What qualifications do you hold?

I’m MCIPD qualified.

What are the duties in your new role?

To lead the newly formed housing association’s HR and corporate services department. I have a team of about 14, and report directly to the chief executive.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

A successful transfer from the council to the new housing association, initially. Then I would like to be able to empower staff to deliver excellent tenant-focused services, establish new services for the community, and stimulate local training and job opportunities.

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

Tackling specialist skills shortages. We need to adopt new approaches to recruit and develop people. Also pensions and legislation.

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

I recommend working in another department other than HR (if you haven’t already) at some stage in your career, to gain wider business experience and personal credibility.

What are the essential tools in your job?

Having a good team and my conscience.

And the most overrated?

Detailed job evaluation schemes.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Where old ‘personnel’ departments of bureaucratic offices handling huge volumes of paperwork still exist.

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

Intervening in the middle of a crowded supermarket when a security guard was punched by a violent shoplifter, and then keeping the shoplifter talking and the security guard pacified until the police turned up.

Who is your ultimate guru?

The Dalai Lama (for his ethical principles).

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

That nineties’ saying ‘top banana’. Luckily, I haven’t heard it in ages.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

My mother (sorry mum).

How do you fill your spare time?

Admiring the beautiful scenery – I’ve just moved to the West Coast of Scotland.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Doing a sky dive from 10,000 feet in Australia – I only realised it at the point of jumping out of the plane.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Ride on Time, by Black Box.

What would be your dream job?

Wine taster or chocolate taster.

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

Being the back end of the horse at a Christmas pantomime when I was working in retail.

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

Richard Gere – I have always had a crush on him, even now that he is greying.


  • Apr 2006-date Director of HR and Corporate Services, Argyll Community Housing Association

  • Nov 2003-Mar 2006 HR consultant, Insight HR and Management Consultancy

  • Oct 2000- Nov 2003 Personnel and training manager, Sainsbury’s

  • Oct 1996 –Oct 2000 Regional administration specialist, Sainsbury’s

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