Top job: Melissa Bate, head of HR, Lovell

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

I worked for Rentokil in its City Link division. I was general manager for HR, with a responsibility for all nationwide operational HR and training issues.

What industry bodies do you belong to?

I’m a fellow of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

Overseeing and developing the HR and training teams, to maximise staff commitment and performance.

What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?

Empowering and engaging all levels of employees.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

E-mails – I think conversation is losing its importance as a communication tool.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

A stress detector.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Its ‘grim reaper’ reputation when business changes occur.

How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?

I go for a run in the park – fresh air is a great stress buster. Playing Lego with my young son also helps me relax.

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

Working with my mother was definitely a challenge.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Positive, practical and motivated.

What was your lucky break?

Meeting Ken Johnson, then HR director for Vivendi Environmental, who mentored me through 10 years of my career.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Paul McCartney, Dame Kelly Holmes, Tom Hanks and Dame Helen Mirren.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

It’s an interesting and varied role, with infinite opportunities – go for it.

Always take the time to talk to people, it’s what happens at the coalface that matters.

What job would you like your children to do?

I would encourage my son Matthew to fulfil his ambition to become a doctor, to continue a family tradition and to genuinely make a difference.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving a job where I was unhappy, without a new job to go to – but it turned out to be a risk worth taking.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.


Nov 2007-present  Head of HR, Lovell (housing provider)

Oct 2006-Sep 2007 General manager for HR City Link (logistics)

Jun 2001-Oct 2006 General manager, HR and training, Target Express (logistics)

May 1995-Jun 2001 HR manager, Vivendi Environmental (environmental services)

Jan 1991-May 1995 HR officer, Specialist Computer Holdings (computer services)

Sep 1986-Jan 1991 HR officer, Rolls-Royce (engineering)

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