Top job: Kathryn Graves, head of HR and development, Taylor Wessing

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

I was at DTZ as head of HR for Europe Middle East and Africa. I was responsible for an HR team of 27 people across various locations, and provided an HR service for approximately 5000 people across the region.

What qualifications do you hold?

A levels, straight after which I joined Marks & Spencer as a junior management trainee.

What are the duties in your new role?

I lead the HR team within Taylor Wessing UK, which encompasses reward, development, policies, recruitment and HR generalist teams.

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

Working together to engage our people, by providing an inclusive environment in which committed and professional people reach their maximum potential and deliver excellence.

What is the most overrated tool in your job and why?

Complex appraisal systems – unless they are simple, no one will use them.

And what work tool would you like to see invented? Why?

A dictionary that can translate HR jargon.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The fact that because a relatively small amount of people really understand what it’s about, they find it difficult to visualise what first class HR can really achieve

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

Go to dance classes then in the morning get up bright and early to do weight training in the gym.

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

Doing stakeout to observe potential group theft during the night.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Motivated, flexible, and considerate.

What was your lucky break?

Raising £75,000 for a charity by creating and selling a £3 recipe book.

What do you regret about your career?

Nothing – I have loved every minute.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I should say my husband and children, but I would really like chef Gordon Ramsay and X-Factor judge Simon Cowell.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Remember who pays your wages and always consider how best you can help the business to be more successful.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Deciding to live in the Lake District for half of my week and London the other half was a risky career decision.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

What goes around comes around – be good to other people and they will be good to you.


  • Jan 2009-present: Head of HR and development, Taylor Wessing (law firm)

  • Apr 2002-Jul 2008: Head of HR, Europe Middle East and Africa, DTZ (global property advisers)

  • Oct 1985-Apr 2002: Various HR management roles, Marks & Spencer

Comments are closed.