Top job: Marie Sigsworth, group corporate responsibility director, Aviva

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

As HR director for the Asia Pacific region, a key priority was attracting, developing and retaining talent in a region of high growth.

What are the duties in your new role?

I am responsible for leading the design and delivery of the corporate responsibility strategy, making the employee promise a reality, HR and corporate responsibility risk and governance, and corporate responsibility and diversity.

What is the worst thing about HR?

HR can often be used as a line manager’s proxy, instead of managers dealing with issues and people themselves. Sometimes HR professionals like this as it makes them feel needed. I prefer the working in partnership approach, which brings out the best in HR.


Sigworth’s CV

  • September 2009-present
    Group corporate responsibility director, Aviva (insurance)
  • 2007-2009
    Group corporate responsibility director, Aviva
  • 2006-2007
    HR director Asia Pacific, Aviva
  • 2005-2006
    HR director Norwich Union Insurance
How do you wind down after a bad day at the office?

I don’t tend to look on my days as ‘bad’. But I love to spend time with my children – they help me put things back in perspective and make me laugh out loud.

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

I found myself upside down under a boat while white-water rafting in Nottingham for a corporate video on working together. In hindsight, there were probably easier ways to get the message across.

What was your lucky break?

Becoming business manager for the group HR director.

Who has been the greatest influence on your career, and why?

Aviva’s group HR director John Ainley, encouraging me to be myself. And for believing in me, and giving me the opportunity to get involved in new things.

What do you regret about your career?

I don’t have any regrets. The choices I made were the right ones for that moment.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Former US president Bill Clinton, actor George Clooney, British touring car champion Colin Turkington, artist and close friend Karen Keable, and chat show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Michael Parkinson.

Tell us something about yourself that no-one else knows.

I played netball and hockey for Suffolk for a number of years.

Who were your childhood heros?

My mum and Donny Osmond.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

It is important not to be bound by or hide behind the rule book or custom and practice.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Setting up the regional office in Asia Pacific – my first international experience.

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