Top job: David Billingham, HR director, Serco Solutions

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

I joined Serco from Atos Consulting, where I was an associate partner in the human resources transformation consulting team. I had direct client responsibility for HR shared services and transformation projects in a number of large UK organisations.

What qualifications do you hold?

BSc in Industrial Relations, and fellowship of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

I report to the chief executive Kevin Lavery and lead a ‘full-service’ HR team responsible for supporting our people across the UK and Europe. I have a team of 25 centrally and also have responsibility for a number of other HR professionals who work for our customers on contract.

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

To ensure programmes and processes are relevant to business needs. Other recurring themes are the underlying challenges around HR capability, the level of business integration, and the ability to lead rather than follow on talent, leadership, diversity and engagement.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Pragmatism and a sense of humour.

And the most overrated?

The need for a deep understanding of HR policy and practice.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The victim mentality that results in HR policy and process being seen as the end-game.

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

I’ve dealt with every conceivable HR issue you could imagine. In my early days as a graduate in the car industry, we were asked to entertain a number of overseas visitors who had specific dietary requests. I was sent to find a restaurant that was able to serve multiple portions of grilled trout.

Who is your ultimate hero?

Winston Churchill.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

The over-use of the word ‘leverage’.

How do you fill your spare time?

I love cycling and, when I can find the time, I like to indulge my passion for France. The food and wine there is second to none.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Pragmatic, reasonable, and relaxed.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

No song can get me on the dance floor I’m afraid, which is just as well, given my two left feet.

What is your worst habit?


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

My iPod, some sunglasses and an endless supply of teabags.

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

Michael Palin. He’s humorous, insightful and well-travelled.

What is the worst (or best) office party you’ve ever attended?

I try to avoid office parties. I’ve spent far too much time dealing with the consequences.

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

Sir Alan Sugar in his Apprentice persona.


Billingham’s CV

  • 2007-present: HR director, Serco Solutions ( which delivers IT services to local government)

  • 2005-2007: Associate partner, people and change consulting, Atos Consulting

  • 2003-2004: Director, HR review programme (interim), Abbey National Group

  • 2002-2003: Interim HR director, UK and Ireland

  • 1998-2002: HR director, Britannic Assurance

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