Top job: Jean Lindsay, Forestry Commission

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

I was a business partner for Forestry Commission Scotland, responsible for setting the strategic direction with regard to people issues.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a qualification in business administration and I have just completed my CIPD qualifiations.

What are the duties in your new role?

Reporting direct to the director general, I lead a team of over 100 people. We recently launched our new people strategy and secured substantial investment from the business to drive this forward. This will be my main focus over the next 3 years.

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

Within the public sector, securing investment and resources.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

Meetings – they can take over your life if you let them.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

An e-mail system that only receives 50 e-mails a day then blocks the others until there’s space for them.

What is the worst thing about HR?

HR teams developing policies that are over-bureaucratic and that actually hinder the business rather than support it.

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

I treat myself to a facial.

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

Being lost in Kielder Forest for 2 hours.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Dynamic, straight-talking, and decisive.

What was your lucky break?

Early in my career my office was closed. I was forced to relocate, and looking back I realise this was instrumental in my career taking off.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Professor Robert Winston, the scientist.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Do your CIPD qualification, and get to know the business.

What job would you like your children to do?

I want my son to do whatever job makes him happy and will support him in whatever he chooses to do.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Packing up and moving to the Netherlands when I was 17.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Life’s not a rehearsal and we’re all in charge of our own destiny – so make the most of it.


  • Apr 2008 – present, HR director, Forestry Commission
  • Jan 2007 – Apr 2008, HR business partner, Forestry Commission Scotland
  • Mar 2006 – Jan 2007, Head of HR shared services, Forestry Commission
  • Nov 2001 – Mar 2006, HR manager, Forestry Commission

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