Top job: Lorraine Mercer, HR manager, Meridian Healthcare

Lorraine Mercer has joined Meridian Healthcare as HR mana-ger. She will lead the HR function across the group, particularly concentrating on the care centre teams working at Meridian’s portfolio of care centres.

Where were you before and what were your duties?

I was HR operations manager at Unilever Bestfoods. My role focused on all operational aspects of HR, with a strong slant on performance and absence management. I was also responsible for leading the culture development programme.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

I want to make Meridian a place where staff come to work because they enjoy and appreciate the importance of their role. HR also needs to make a significant contribution to the bottom line and I want to make that happen.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to getting under the skin of the healthcare business. Meridian is a people business and I can’t wait to understand and identify the cultures at work here.

What qualifications do you hold?

I am a graduate member of the CIPD and hold a postgraduate diploma in HRM, together with a Certificate in Personnel Practice.

How will the role of HR change over the next five years?

HR roles will continue to embrace legal changes as employment legislation dominates the agenda. HR will have to have a heightened awareness of the changing landscape.

What is the best thing about HR?

Being the function that is able to drive home the impact of business decisions on people.

And the worst?

If something doesn’t fit into a department or role, it’s often assigned to the HR department instead.

Who is the ultimate guru?

Social philosopher and management scholar,Charles Handy.

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

Being Cinderella during a training course – bizarre but true!

What is your essential viewing?

Only Fools and Horses – it keeps me sane.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Dressing up as a Smurf in a dance troupe.

What is the essential tool for your job?

My integrity.

And the mostover-rated?

HR buzzwords.

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

Perseverance is key. Retain your integrity – you are dealing with real people so be prepared for the unexpected.

What would be your ideal job?

A dancer in theatre.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?

Erin Brockovich – she came from nothing and fought all the way.

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

Michael Winner – those insurance adverts he appears in really irritate me.

Mercer’s CV

2004 HR manager, Meridian Healthcare

2001 HR operations manager, Unilever Bestfoods UK

1998 Employee development and recruitment adviser, Unilever Bestfoods

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