Karen McKenzie-Irvine has joined third-party mortgage administrator Global
Home Loans as head of learning and development.
She joins from AMP Financial Services, where she worked as part of the
training and development team. She has 15 years of practical HR experience and
holds a Masters degree in HR strategy, as well as a postgraduate degree in
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Getting electrocuted while taking a short-cut through a field of cows. It
happened during an outdoor management exercise I co-ordinated for a finance
Who is the ultimate guru?
Peter Senge – I really feel he has given HR the credibility to position itself
at the forefront of driving organisational change.
What’s the best thing about HR?
Being able to facilitate people’s ‘a-ha’ moments, because you know they have
engaged in the personal learning and development that will lead to a positive
change in their behaviour or performance.
And the worst?
HR still suffers from being perceived as soft and fluffy.
The business needs to wake up to the power of HR policies that harness and
channel the people effort of an organisation in delivering business performance.
Organisations tend to hold on to a spreadsheet mentality, which focuses on
profitability and budget management without considering that more effective
people management can help deliver business objectives.
How do you fill your spare time?
I’m passionate about skiing and I’m also a qualified open-water diver. I
also enjoy gardening, cinema and collecting antique furniture and fine wine.
What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
You need to be unselfish, because HR and training is all about putting other
people’s needs first. This must be coupled with a desire to understand business
goals and the ability to confidently articulate how HR can support these.
Do you network?
Yes – it is an essential part of my continuing professional development.
If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
Either a meteorologist or an astro-physicist. I’ve always been fascinated by
the sciences and the power and mystique of nature.
What’s the worst/best office party you’ve ever attended?
The most unusual HR gathering was one of our conferences, which was held at
What is your essential viewing?
BBC News 24. I like to keep up-to-date with current affairs.
2003 Head of learning and
development, Global Home Loans
2000 Training and development strategist, AMP UK
1997 Senior HR consultant, Pearl Assurance
1994 HR manager, Pearl Assurance
1993 Training officer, Pearl Assurance