What is your new role?
HR director at retail chain BrightHouse.
Where were you working before?
I was head of HR at the Hotel and Catering Training Company from 2003. My role there was to ensure the delivery of strategic HR plans in support of business objectives.
What qualifications do you hold?
A postgraduate certificate in personnel management and a diploma in business studies. I am also CIPD certified.
What are the duties in your new role?
Managing a team of 15 and reporting directly to the chief executive, I have responsibility for HR issues across the company’s 143 stores and 1,400 employees nationwide.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
I want to ensure that all BrightHouse recruitment and staff training initiatives keep customers at their core. High staff retention and low staff turnover are critical to building relationships with our customers and meeting BrightHouse’s ambitious growth targets.
What are the challenges HR faces in the nextfive years?
I believe the key challenges are attracting people from a dwindling resource pool, as well as retaining them. There is also the ongoing task of managing legislative change.
What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
Speak the language of your customers, and not that of an HR textbook.
What is the essential tool in your job?
Twenty years’ operational experience. It gives me empathy with customers and enables me to tailor the HR department to their specific needs.
And the most overrated?
E-mail – there is a perception that pressing ‘send’ means people have got that message.
What is the worst thing about HR?
Working in an organisation that believes HR is only an admin resource. One of the reasons I joined BrightHouse is that the leadership team believes HR is integral to the business strategy.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Having to discipline two employees caught on CCTV in a very intimate situation on a pool table (need I say more).
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
Take counsel – why don’t people just say “I need to speak to someone else?”
What is your essential TV viewing?
The Sunday morning re-run of Match of the Day – I watch it every week with my two-year-old son Henry.
How do you fill your spare time?
Helping my son Henry practise his goal celebrations, and coaxing a smile out of my three-month-old daughter Isabella.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Moving out of operations into HR six years ago. I feared my influence might be diluted after leaving the revenue-generating part of the business. But HR is a fully fledged business discipline, and most companies now place it at the heart of the business.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Jennifer Aniston, discussing Maslow’s psychological theory on the hierarchy of needs.
2006-present HR director, BrightHouse
2003-2006 Head of HR, Hotel and Catering Training Company
2002-2003 Corporate HR manager, SFI Group
1999-2002 HR operations manager, SFI Group
1995-1999 Senior general manager, Café Rouge (Whitbread plc)