Top job: David Cooper, director of human resources, Royal College of Nursing

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

I was on secondment to Unison/Managers in Partnership for six months, before which I was executive director of human resources at East London and The City Mental Health Trust. I remained there for seven years, which included spells as acting and deputy chief executive.

What qualifications do you hold?

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

What are the duties in your new role?

The post is a newly created one, with responsibility for leading the RCN’s organisational change and development agenda. I will act as the principal adviser to the general secretary on all HR and organisational development matters.

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

Convincing staff that change is in their best interests, and that the rhetoric is real and meaningful.

What is the essential tool in your job?

My PA.

And the most overrated?

The staple remover.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Constantly being blamed by others.

Who is your ultimate hero?

My dad.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

All of it. Especially ‘it’s not rocket science’.

How do you fill your spare time?

Cycling on my indoor trainer, and I’m writing a book.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Caring, creative and Reginald Perrin-esque.

What is your favourite website?

Jon Restell’s Managers in Partnership. Well, actually, it’s Quicksilver Comics.

What is your worst habit?

Continually quoting from movies such as A Few Good Men, The Godfather and Gladiator.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Going camping on the moors with Brian McDermot – an ex-Royal Marine commando and current Harlequins Rugby League head coach.

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

My amazing Spiderman comic collection, a cheese sandwich, and my baby daughter Rhiannon.

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

Either Woody Allen or Jack Nicholson, but I have no idea why.

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

Ideally, a lift engineer.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

To quote Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) in the film Platoon: “There’s the way things should be, and then there’s the way things are.”


Sep 2007-present
Director of HR, Royal College of Nursing (professional association and union of nursing staff and students)

May 2007-present
Associate national officer, Managers in Partnership (Unison)

Jan 2007-May 2007
Project director, membership services, Unison

Oct 2002-May 2007
Director of HR and corporate affairs, East London and The City Mental Health NHS Trust

May 2002-Oct 2002
Acting chief executive/director of HR and corporate affairs, East London and The City Mental Health NHS Trust

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