Top job: Richard Neville, head of HR, Drax Power

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

I was head of employee relations and reward at Yorkshire Water. My team also covered HR policy, internal communications, e-recruitment and diversity.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have an LLB (Hons), an MSc in HRM and a teaching qualification (Cert.Ed). I am a chartered fellow of the CIPD and an associate of the London College of Music (ALCM).

What are the duties in your new role?

I will support the executive team, lead HR strategy and manage the HR team. Three key strategic areas will be recruitment, reward and employee relations.

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

Managing pay and employee engagement in an unstable economy; attracting and developing the best people; and supporting the business to lead and anticipate change.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

The ‘rulebook’. It’s a poor substitute for good judgement and wisdom.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

Something that enables us to understand how other people see the world and how they make decisions.

What is the worst thing about HR?

When it is not business-focused, it develops solutions that are looking for a problem.

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

Through music, sport, family and friends, but I don’t have many bad days.

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

I wasHR manager in a factory with a small canteen and tightly managed breaks. I was interviewing someone when three staff burst in, sat on the floor, and wouldn’t move until I found them somewhere to eat.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Creative, calm, and conscientious.

What was your lucky break?

I gave up Law Society exams for a graduate trainee position. Within a year I was assistant HR manager and married to a lovely girl who is still my wife.

What do you regret about your career?

It has taken 20 years for my experience to catch up with my hair colour.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Comedian Peter Kay.

Tell us something about yourself that no-one else knows.

I was on Larry Grayson’s Generation Game.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Keep moving out of your comfort zone – the best learning is often uncomfortable.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Buying HBOS shares in 2008.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

If you think you can, or if you think you can’t – you’re right.


Apr 2009-present: Head of HR, Drax Power (power generation)

Sep 2002-Apr 2009: Head of employee relations and reward, Yorkshire Water (utilities)

July 1999-Sep 2002: Employee relations manager, HBOS (banking)

April 1990-Jul 1999: Head of HR, Bradford metropolitan borough council, corporate services division (local government)

Jan 1987-Apr 1990: Senior lecturer, personnel management, Salford University

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