Top job: Kathleen Reeves

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Kathleen Reeves has joined the Financial Services Authority watchdog as director of HR. She was previously director of HR at Direct Line, part of the RBS group, for two years. Prior to that, she worked at American Express for eight years in a number of HR roles.

What will be the duties in your new role?
The role is newly-created and the key deliverables will be to work on our talent agenda and people leadership. Excellence in leadership will be one of our key priorities.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
I hope to lead the HR department to a place where excellence in everything we do happens all the time. The key areas of focus will be in developing leadership capabilities, talent management and succession planning.

What are the challenges HR faces in the next five years?
The challenges remain the same – finding talent, developing talent and retaining talent. But the environment in which we do this changes, and HR people need to understand what the changes will be and plan ahead.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Corporate life brings its own strangeness. It’s when you stop noticing it that you really should start to worry.

Who is your ultimate guru?
My ultimate guru is an ex-colleague from American Express. He was inspirational, a real people leader and a pleasure to work with. When faced with a difficult work problem I often think how he would have dealt with it – and then I have my answer.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
‘HR intervention’ – we sometimes need to be saved from ourselves.

What is the worst thing about HR?
People who work in HR who fail to work as part of a team – this drives me nuts!

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Giving up work for a year and taking time out to travel. It was the best thing I ever did.

How do you fill your spare time?
Reading, theatre, eating, art galleries, holidays and chilling out.

What is the essential tool in your job?
E-mail.

And the most over-rated?
E-mail.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
Be committed, commercially minded, pragmatic and passionate.

What song gets you on the dance floor?
Nothing on God’s earth gets me on the dance floor.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
Whoopi Goldberg – because the movie would make it funnier than my life actually is.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
The BBC’s political editor Andrew Marr, because he is one of the funniest and most intelligent people on television today.

Reeves’ CV



  • 2005 HR director, FSA

  • 2002 HR director, Direct Line Insurance

  • 1994 Various HR roles, American Express

  • 1990 HR director, Steelcase Strafor

  • 1987 HR manager, Consumers’ Association

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