Top job: Raj Verma, corporate human resources director, Sodexho UK & Ireland

Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I was head of human resources (HR) at Abbey, responsible for the manufacturing and central divisions, leading a team of business partners supporting 7,500 customers.

What qualifications do you hold?
BA degree in Law; MA in Management; MBA from Warwick Business School; Fellow of the CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role?
I will lead the strategic agenda for reward and pensions, employee relations and resourcing, and provide an HR service to central functions across Sodexho UK and Ireland.

What are the main challenges facing HR in the next five years?
Steering a balance between business needs, the interests of employees and corporate responsibility.

What is the essential tool in your job?
My BlackBerry.

And the most overrated?
Quoting “best practice” as opposed to actually implementing “right practice” for your business.

What is the worst thing about HR?
A continuing, but misplaced, perception that HR is woolly and doesn’t really understand the business.

Who is your ultimate hero?
Mahatma Gandhi – or anyone who continues to succeed against the odds.

How do you fill your spare time?
With my family.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Output-driven, commercial and collaborative.

What is your favourite website?

What song gets you on the dance floor?
Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl.

What is your worst habit?
Expecting everything to have been done yesterday.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Every time I move jobs, as it’s easy to become too comfortable.

What three items would you take to a desert island?
My i-Pod, a collection of John Grisham novels, and my set of golf clubs.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
Woody Allen – he can turn his strengths to most things.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?
The ones I can’t now remember.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Organisational behaviour expert Stephen Covey.

Sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence.
Be prepared to deliver, continue to learn and have fun along the way.


  • Jul 2007-present Corporate HR director, Sodexho UK & Ireland
  • Dec 2005-Jul 2007 Head of HR, Abbey (bank)
  • Jun 2004-Dec 2005 Senior HR business partner, Abbey
  • Jan 1998-Jun 2004 Various generalist and specialist roles, Ford Motor Company

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