Top job: Martin Moore, head of HR, The British Museum

Martin Moore has been appointed head of HR at the British Museum. He joins at a time when the museum has embarked on an ambitious modernisation programme and is looking to become more dynamic and outward-looking.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I worked for Mahindra-British Telecom (MBT), helping to co-ordinate its HR activities in the UK and across Europe. MBT is an Indian-based provider of software services to the global telecoms industry. It was a real challenge to work in such a dynamic sector, and my time there gave me a wonderful introduction to India and its culture.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To establish an HR team with the capacity to handle the significant changes the organisation will experience, as we work to achieve our new vision of a ‘museum for the world’.

Which aspects of the job are you most looking forward to?

The people who work at the British Museum have a tremendous amount of loyalty for the institution. Using this as a platform for our work will be a great opportunity.

What are the strangest situations you have been in at work?

Interviewing a candidate in the gents’ toilets; working in an organisation where I was regularly involved in disciplining staff who worked too fast (it really happened!); and guiding my senior colleagues through a presentation over the phone in a broom cupboard in Center Parcs.

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

Within the public sector, it’s clear that there is now an agenda to ‘professionalise’ the function. My view is that the recommendations made in the recent Gershon Report will become a reality as we aim to improve service delivery and reduce costs.

Who is the ultimate guru?

Sumantra Ghoshal – I had the chance to meet with him as he had been a member of MBT’s board. His views on the importance of establishing a clear set of values to steer an organisation left a deep impression.

What is your essential viewing?

Match of the Day and The Office – the ideal antidote to trendy management-speak.

What’s the best thing about HR?

Setting people new challenges – and helping them achieve them.

And the worst?

Low expectations. Too many people see HR as being the organisational ‘menders and fixers’.

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

Get a mentor. Inevitably, most HR jobs require a high element of political awareness: somebody with experience who can provide insights into this area of organisational life will be invaluable.

Do you network?

I have a number of contacts I’ve remained in touch with for some time, and I’m now enjoying the process of establishing new ones within the public sector, where the people I’ve met are very keen to share their knowledge.

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

Steve Coogan. He’d have enough material to make a reasonably good comedy.

What’s the worst office party you’ve ever attended?

A previous organisation used to hold an annual dinner where the participants – all of whom were male – were required to stand up and tell jokes. I found the whole event sexist and depressing.

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

An escapologist.

Moore’s CV

2004 Head of HR, The British Museum

2001 Head of HR, Mahindra-British Telecom

1996 Senior manager, HR, research and development, Nortel Networks

1993 HR manager, Caradon MK Electric

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