Top Job: Olivia Parrish, head of HR, Cooper Parry

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

I was head of learning and development for Nations Healthcare and was part of the project team that opened the UK’s largest NHS treatment centre in Nottingham.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a postgraduate diploma in HR management, a certificate in counselling and I’m a chartered member of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?

To continue with the success that contributed towards the company being named the Sunday Times 21st best company to work for in the UK.

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

Remaining flexible and strategic during unprecedented and unpredictable economic times. Keeping people focused on great performance at a time when everyone is facing a degree of uncertainty whether it’s due to job security, interest rates or utility bills is also key. And managing effectively talent.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

E-mail – I think it makes us unproductive.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

Time travel.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Bureaucratic legislation.

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

A big glass of red wine with my other half.

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

Arriving in Miami at 9pm for a job interview the next morning and finding out my luggage had not arrived and wasn’t going to.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Resilient, intuitive, scatty.

What was your lucky break?

Not taking up place at university. It seemed crazy at the time but I ended up travelling the world.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

The friends I meet on a Friday night – they are great friends they wouldn’t mind if I ruined the food and we’d never run out of wine.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Get plenty of operational experience and build really strong working relationships.

What job would you like your children to do?

I think anyone that wakes up happy every day is in the right job, whatever it is.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving my partner at home and giving up a job to go to Miami to implement a new HR structure for a cruise line company.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

What will be will be.

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