Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I was head of HR for the Islamic Bank of Britain, the first fully Sharia’a-compliant Islamic retail bank in the UK, which enables Muslims to bank according to their faith. I developed the HR strategy to take this new venture from paper to reality, establishing a robust, fully operational HR service including salaries, pensions, benefits, recruitment, training, legal and policy development.
What qualifications do you hold?
Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and a post-graduate diploma in personnel management.
What are the duties in your new role?
I help shape and develop strategic focus to deliver the firm’s challenging five-year growth and modernisation plan. Immediate target areas include the conversion of solicitors into confident, skilled managers and the development of reward frameworks and career paths. There are eight people in our team, and I report to the managing partner.
What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?
Working hard to achieve honest and open communication, sharing the company vision and getting buy-in from staff, and retaining core values and culture.
What is the essential tool in your job?
Listening with an open mind and thinking on your feet.
And the most overrated?
Overuse of e-mails, instead of talking to people face-to-face.
What is the worst thing about HR?
When no-one knows where work belongs, they give it to HR, even if it’s got the most tenuous connection.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Answering a call for help from a frantic manager who could not get his team back to work as they were too busy watching a very amorous couple in the grass at the back of the factory. Then finding out the couple actually worked for the company.
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
Silos and paradigms – Americanisms. Why can’t we just use normal words?
How do you fill your spare time?
Going to the gym, spending time with my friends, travelling and trying to master my digital camera.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Professional, practical and caring.
What is your favourite web page?
What song gets you on the dance floor?
Anything by Roxy Music.
What is your worst habit?
When trying to help others I have a tendency to take over if I think they are struggling.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Joining the Islamic Bank of Britain when it was still an idea.
What three items would you take with you on a desert island?
My books, my trusty Swiss Army knife and a decent moisturiser.
Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
Actress-turned-politician Glenda Jackson (pictured left) – thanks to her no-nonsense approach and down-to-earth persona.
Head of HR, Higgs & Sons Solicitors
Jan 2004-Mar 2007
Head of HR, Islamic Bank of Britain
Dec 1990-Oct 2003
Personnel manager, Police Mutual Assurance Society
Aug 1973-Dec 1990
Divisional personnel officer, Smith & Nephew Consumer Products