Top job… Fiona Irvine, HR director, First ScotRail

What is your new role?

HR director at First ScotRail.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was with Lloyds TSB, latterly as interim head of reward for the UK retail bank, where I was responsible for developing a new reward and recognition scheme for 30,000 staff.

What qualifications do you hold?

Fellow of the CIPD and a degree in business, economics and HR management.

What are the duties in your new role?

I am responsible for the HR strategy for 4,100 staff across Scotland, reporting to the managing director as part of the board. My role covers HR, learning and development and internal communications.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

There is a great opportunity to make a real difference by introducing HR initiatives that make our organisation a great place to work, and deliver ongoing business success.

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

Developing the concept of effective HR business partnering, while ensuring that HR people have good operational HR experience, will be challenging, as more organisations outsource their core HR support functions.

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

To ensure they develop good commercial acumen early on in their careers.

What are the essential tools in your job?

E-mail and my laptop.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Understanding constantly changing employment legislation.

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

After attending an interview, the interviewer took me back to the airport, where we got caught up in snow for more than three hours.

Who is your ultimate guru?

A former managing director I worked with, Stephen Geraghty, who is now chief executive of the Child Support Agency.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

“Complete the circle”.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Anything early on Saturday or Sunday morning that keeps my five-year-old amused and gives me a lie in.

How do you fill your spare time?

Enjoying lots and lots of retail therapy.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Working full-time when completing my final year at university. But it was worth taking as I ended up with a distinction and a permanent job.

What is your most used web page?


What was the last book you read?

The Wal-Mart Effect, by Charles Fishman.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Waterloo, by Abba.

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

Julia Roberts, as she always plays really happy people – just like me.

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

David Beckham.


  • March 2006 HR director, First ScotRail
  • 2003-2005 Interim head of reward; head of HR – customer & sales; head of HR – telephony, Lloyds TSB
  • 1995-2003 HR business partner, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • 1993-1994 Staff manager, Sainsbury’s/Homebase

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