What is your new role?
Head of HR for the University Partnerships Programme (UPP), a student accommodation provider.
Where were you working before?
I spent three years as a self-employed consultant with contracts covering HR and change management, including six months advising London Underground’s HR department on an outsourced HR shared-service deal.
What qualifications do you hold?
A BSc (Hons) in sociology and social anthropology and an MA in HR management.
What will be the duties in your new role?
To lead the HR team, to design and deliver a range of HR services to the business, manage employee relations issues, advise on relevant employment legislation and the risks to the business, deliver effective HR processes, and to contribute to the business strategy as appropriate.
How big is your team and who do you report to?
I report to the business development director, but work closely with all the directors and the business managers, supported by a team of two.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
UPP is not a new company but was a management buyout from its parent company in December 2004. We are aiming to make ourselves distinctive and professional. Over the next few months I aim to ensure that our policies and processes are centralised, to develop training programmes for all staff, improve the harmonisation of terms and conditions and implement an HR IT system.
What are the challenges HR faces in the next five years?
Pensions, an ageing workforce, the amount of legislation, talent management and skills development.
What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
Learn about the business you are in – what is your organisation aiming to achieve and how can HR support that?
What is the essential tool in your job?
Listening and thinking.
And the most over-rated?
Paper personnel files.
What is the worst thing about HR?
The assumption that we have a magic wand to solve people problems.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
A lady on maternity leave coming in for a consultation about the potential redundancy of her job and bringing her baby with her. The meeting consisted of me, and her, and her line manager, Robert, cuddling the baby.
Who is your ultimate guru?
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
‘We need to touch base offline’.
What is your essential TV viewing?
House, Dalziel and Pascoe, Dr Who, Antiques Roadshow, Bremner Bird & Fortune, University Challenge.
Who would you most dislike to work with?
It’s a short but libelous list.
How do you fill your spare time?
Travel, good food and wine, music, reading.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Spending a year backpacking solo around the world in 1999 and buying a wreck of a house in 2002 when I had no job.
What is your most popular web page?
Oct 2005-present – Head of HR, UPP
Oct 2002-Sept 2005 – HR consultant, Bluepoint Aspects
Nov 2000-Aug 2002 – Director, HR, Mapeley
May-Oct 2000 – -Project manager, The Economist Group
Jan 1999-Jan 2000 – Travelling
Dec 1990-Dec 1998 – Director of personnel, London Business School