Top job: Diane Gwynne, director of people and policy, Gerald Eve

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was head of HR in Europe at Sony Pictures Entertainment and prior to that HR director at JP Morgan Cazenove. Both roles were fully operational, generalist ones and I was responsible for teams of business partners and specialist compensation, benefits and pension managers.

What qualifications do you hold?

A first degree from Warwick University and membership of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

The new role is substantially more strategic than operational. I will sit on the executive board and report to the senior partner.

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

Getting to, and remaining on, the management board of companies. At board level, HR can directly influence employee engagement, talent management and career development issues, all of which have a profound impact on the success of an organisation.

What is the essential tool in your job?

The ability to engage with all employees at all levels. But if it has to be an actual tool, then it is the computer – the gateway to so much communication and information.

And the most overrated?

I would like to say the BlackBerry, but I am very attached to mine and I do like using it.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Being described as the department of Human Remains – that is, there is not much left after HR has swept through.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘Thinking outside the box’.

How do you fill your spare time?

It seems like washing and ironing for the family, but, in truth, being in the company of friends, reading and swimming.

What is your most popular web page?

BBC news.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

I’m sorry, but it has to Abba’s Dancing Queen.

What is your worst habit?

Always searching for a bargain.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Climbing Mont Blanc without a guide, and being the first female duo on the summit that particular day.

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

A piano, the complete works of Churchill, and a book of jokes.

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

Helen Mirren (left), for her ability to play the feisty lady. I would like to think of my background as being feisty.

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

The best party ever was a military dining-in night that ended up with a rugby game and swimming in the sea at dawn.

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

President Bush.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence

Enjoy people as much as you can. They provide your present, your future and your past.

Gwynne’s CV

  • Jan 2007-present: Director of people and policy, Gerald Eve (property company)

  • Jan 2006-Dec 2006: Head of HR Europe, Sony Pictures Entertainment

  • Nov 2000-Jan 2006: Director of HR, JPMorgan Cazenove (investment bank)

  • Sept 1998-Nov 2000: Director of HR, Barlow Lyde Gilbert (law firm)

  • Mar 1986-Sept 1998: Senior HR manager, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (consultancy)

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