Top job: Linda Williams, head of HR, Cheshire Building Society

Cheshire Building Society – the 10th largest society in the UK – has appointed Linda Williams as head of HR. The appointment comes as the society expands into Manchester, with a new city-centre branch due to open before the end of the year.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

Honeywell Turbo Technologies. I was leading the HR aspects of a phased transfer of manufacturing from Lancashire to Romania.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

I hope to deliver business results and enhanced customer service by optimising and developing the society’s talent.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

Getting to grips with the nuances of a different sector and the challenges it offers. Also, bringing best practice elements of my manufacturing skills and experience into a new environment.

What is the best thing about HR?

The unpredictability of people – they never cease to amaze or surprise me.

And the worst?

Having to adhere to legislation or bureaucracy when it conflicts with employees’ best interests.

How will HR change over the next five years?

Hopefully, we will see more organi-sations valuing HR at a strategic level and awarding HR a place on the board. The challenge for HR is to continually demonstrate how it adds value.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

The promotion of an employee without the relevant technical qualifications and experience into the role of production manager at a manufacturing site. I’m pleased to say it was a successful move for both the individual and the company.

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

I once had to explain to non-English speaking Romanian staff why they couldn’t work without safety shoes. I then found out their sizes and got the shoes for them!

What is the essential tool in your job?

Credibility with my peers and employees.

And the most overrated?

E-mail. It’s a useful and valuable tool but not always the most appropriate or effective method of communication.

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

Ensure you have a sense of humour, common sense, an open mind and the stamina to drive continuous change.

What is your essential viewing?

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. It is always a good way to unwind at the end of a busy week.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?

A cruise on the River Seine with free-flowing champagne.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

David Brent from The Office – his antics make me cringe!

Williams’ CV

2004 Head of HR, Cheshire Building Society

1998 HR generalist and HR manager, Honeywell Turbo Technologies

1992 HR executive, News International Newspapers

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