Top job: Jill Nealon, group HR director, RAC

Jill Nealon has been appointed as group HR director at RAC. She joins the company with 15 years’ experience in the aviation industry, most recently with Star Alliance as vice-president of HR and training.

What will be the duties in your new role?

Adding value to a very robust structure, to ensure we meet our goal of transforming from a ‘good’ organisation to a ‘great’ place to work.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

Being part of the growth of RAC as it goes from strength to strength. It has a very strong brand, and developing the businesses that form the group in a complex and changing environment will be challenging for all concerned.

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

Being in Los Angeles airport on September 11 during the terrorist attacks. As three of the four planes were destined for LA, the airport was full of grieving and anxious people.

Who is the ultimate guru?

Nelson Mandela is the epitome of one individual who can really make a difference.

What is your essential viewing?

Top Gear – hence my move from aeroplanes to automobiles.

What’s the best thing about HR?

The sheer variety, being able to work on pure business-driven solutions and then having to work out a people strategy to make it happen.

And the worst?

Administration – or at least the ‘paper-pushing’ reputation that personnel once had.

How do you fill your spare time?

Having just returned from Germany, learning to drive on the right side of the road again. It has to be travel – it’s a great way to expand horizons.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Accepting a position to work somewhere in Europe, yet to be confirmed, for an unknown CEO.

What is your essential job tool?

A sense of humour and perspective – it never really is that bad.

And the most over-rated?

A glossary of psychometric terms.

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

Trust your instincts, and don’t take it personally!

What would be your ideal job?

I’d like to work with the Shoah Foundation, which raises awareness of atrocities all over the world to ensure we learn valuable lessons.

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

Sophia Loren, as she represents beauty, style and timeless elegance.

What’s the worst office party you’ve ever attended?

The service delivery initiative party, which didn’t have any entertainment funds. We ended up listening to CDs from a colleague’s daughter, and created a light show with the overhead projector.

Nealon’s CV

2004 Group HR director, RAC

2001 Vice-president, HR and training, Star Alliance

1989 Senior HR roles, British Midland

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