Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?
I was head of HR for HBOS Insurance. As one of the management board, I was responsible for ensuring our people and organisational capabilities were aligned to our business goals.
What qualifications do you hold?
A BSc in psychology and CIPD qualifications.
What are the duties in your new role?
As part of the UK leadership team, I have a broad HR remit, including people strategy, payroll and operational training.
What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?
As a profession I don’t think we have a strong pipeline of people with business partnering skills, and that’s a key enabler for everything else we need to achieve.
What is the most overrated tool in your job?
Almost any form – I’m not a forms person.
And what work tool would you like to see invented?
A teleport machine.
What is the worst thing about HR?
Too often HR entering a room is a cue for everyone to stop being creative and having fun.
How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?
Playing with my son and endlessly reading whatever his favourite book is that day.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Probably the time I was asked to adjudicate on whether or not a couple who were meeting for sex in the disabled toilets should be disciplined.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Irritable when hungry
What was your lucky break?
Being HR manager for HFS – my first broad HR role. At the time I thought I was the perfect candidate but I look back and realise I had no experience. The managing director took a huge risk by appointing me and remains a great friend and mentor.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Former US president Bill Clinton, the late Body Shop founder and environmental campaigner Anita Roddick, illusionist Derren Brown and comedian Ricky Gervais.
What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?
Get close to your clients and really understand the people who do the jobs that make the money or serve the customers, and have an opinion on things outside the people agenda.
What job would you like your child to do?
Whatever makes him happy.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Getting the HFS board to write on bananas to prompt a discussion on innovation. It did not go well, and I had people leaving fruit on my desk for weeks afterwards.
Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
- Mar 2008-present – HR director, UK & Northern Europe, CPP (life assurance)
- Oct 2005-Mar 2008 – Head of HR, HBOS Insurance
- Mar 2003-Oct 2005 – Head of HR, retail processing and central functions, HBOS
- Feb 2001-Mar 2003 – HR manager, Halifax Financial Services (long term savings, life and pensions)