Top job: Fiona Guthrie

Fiona Guthrie has joined construction and development consultancy Simons Group as its new HR director. She was previously HR director at construction and consulting business Morrison.

Are you CIPD qualified, or do you have other equivalent qualifications?


What are the duties in your new role?

To establish the strategy and tactics for the recruitment, development, retention and reward of a group of extraordinary people. I’m responsible for a team of seven, and I report to the chairman and CEO.

What do you hope to achieve?

All of the above, but in a business-centric way.

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

The reducing labour market, finding the best way to capitalise on different ways of working, building closer and stronger links with business reality to improve the function’s credibility.

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

Think of yourself as a general manager with a specialism in HR, not as an HR manager in a general business.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Liz, my PA.

And the most overrated?

My iPaq, which currently doesn’t work.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Having to say the same things over and over again, often to the same people.

What is the most annoying piece of  management jargon?

Rather worryingly, I can’t think of anything.

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

Finding a way to lure a family of magpies out of the distribution centre I was running.

Who are your ultimate gurus?

Trinny and Susannah.

What is your essential TV viewing?

There isn’t really anything ‘essential’, but I do like US comedies and British dramas.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

A pedant who has no sense of humour or adventure.

How do you fill your spare time?

With my husband, four children, a good book and the occasional pursuit of the perfect gin and tonic.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Moving from an HR role to a senior line management role within a militant, unionised environment. Then moving to the US to do it again.

What is your most popular web page?

Times Online.

What was the last book you read?

Manhood, by Steve Biddulph.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

La Macarena.

What would be your dream job?

MD of a large airport.

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

A great evening at the dog racing.

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

I have no idea – thank goodness for casting agents.

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

If not a lift engineer, then Ken Livingstone most, and Paul Gascoigne least.

Fiona Guthrie’s CV

  • September 2005 – HR director, Simons Group

  • January to August 2005 – HR director, Morrison

  • 2002-2004 – Head of employee relations and policy, Safeway

  • 2000-2002 – HR controller, logistics, Safeway

  • 1994-2000 – General manager, Tibbett & Britten

  • 1990-1994 – HR manager, Tibbett & Britten

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