Top job: Phil Donnelly

What is your new role?

European head of HR for Watson Wyatt, a consulting firm.

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

I worked for Ernst & Young as global head of HR for the transaction advisory services practice – a 6,000-person, $2bn revenue business line. However, I also played a broader commercial and strategic role, focusing on making the transactional side of the business more global, and developing new merger and acquisition products and services.

What qualifications do you hold?

A first degree in economics, a Masters in strategic HR, and I am a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. I also studied corporate finance at the London Business School.

What are the duties in your new role?

The focus for me and my team will be attracting, retaining and motivating the most talented people in what is a highly competitive market. I report to the regional CEO, Babloo Ramamurthy.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

I hope to develop the HR function so it can make the greatest possible contribution to achieving the firm’s strategic goals and objectives and superior business performance.

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

To step up as genuine partners to the business and consistently prove that we are adding value.

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

To operate as a trusted business adviser, you need to develop exceptional relationship skills, deep commercial insights and have the courage to express a point of view built upon a strong professional functional foundation.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Judgement. Anyone can recall the rules to add real value requires you to exercise sound judgement constantly, and use your intuition intelligently.

What is the worst thing about HR?

As a function, we seem to lack the self-confidence to contribute as a genuine peer within the business. I would love to see a time when we stop talking about partnering and just do it with a suitable level of confidence in the contribution we make.

Who is your ultimate guru?

I greatly admire Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway for his longevity, his prescience and judgement in global capital markets, and his philanthropy.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Spooks and Hustle.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

The last set of candidates from The Apprentice.

What was the last book you read?

Money, by Martin Amis.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Any early 1980s indie guitar bands, such as The Smiths.

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

Not sure, but I was recently stuck in a British Airways lounge with Renée Zellweger, which was pretty cool.

Wyatt’s CV

  • Oct 2006-present: Head of HR, Europe, Watson Wyatt

  • Oct 2001-Sept 2006: Global head of HR, transaction advisory services, Ernst & Young

  • Oct 2000-Sept 2001: Head of HR shared services, AMP

  • June 1997-Sept 2000: Group HR director, Old Mutual International

  • June 1995-May 1997: Head of HR, Axa Equity & Law International

  • June 1993-May 1995: Senior HR consultant, Clerical Medical

  • June 1987-May 1993: Flight lieutenant, Royal Air Force

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