Top job: Ian Cheetham

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

I was pro vice-chancellor and director of HR services at Middlesex University with responsibility for HR policies.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have an MSc in personnel management and I am a chartered fellow of the CIPD and a member of the Institute of Healthcare Management and the Chartered Management Institute.

What are the duties in your new role?

I report to the vice-chancellor and lead the HR function, ensuring that HR policies and objectives are aligned to Bath University’s strategy.

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

In higher education, the main challenges are recruiting and retaining sufficient high quality staff, developing leaders and managing in an environment which is experiencing increased global competition and financial pressure.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

E-mail, with the consequent reduction in face-to-face and verbal communication.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

A magic wand to resolve all conflicts between individuals at work.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The use of jargon, which makes it more difficult to communicate the message.

How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?

Taking a long walk or following Watford FC.

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

I once interviewed with a manager who during the interview, having rocked back on his chair, overbalanced and crashed to the floor.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Pragmatic, analytical and enthusiastic.

What was your lucky break?

Being appointed to the post at Middlesex University with no experience in the higher education sector.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Graham Taylor (ex-England and Watford football manager), footballing legend George Best, actress Dame Helen Mirren, and country music star Shania Twain – as well as friends and family.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Work as a line manager so you understand the practice as well as the theory, and understand the business for which you are working.

What job would you like your children to do?

Anything that makes them happy and if possible contributes to society.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Abseiling down a cliff in Wales.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Life is not a rehearsal, so make the most of every day.

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