Top job: Robert Halton

Robert Halton, chief people officer, The College of Law (legal education and training provider)

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

I was with DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest commercial law firms, with global responsibility for the people agenda.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a BA in geography and an MSc in strategic HR management. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, the Institute of Management and the Royal Geographical Society.

What are the duties in your new role?

I am the board member with responsibility for people at the College of Law, at a strategic and operational level. The college provides vocational and professional training for those joining the legal sector.

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

The main challenges revolve around investing in talent and equipping people to meet the changing requirements of the business world.

What is the most over-rated tool in your job?

E-mail: you should pick up the phone or get up and speak with somebody instead.

And what tool would you like to see invented?

A means of silencing mobile phone users on trains.

What is the worst thing about HR?


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

Going for a walk with the family, whatever the weather.

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

Having to eat a delicacy at an official reception in China while being watched attentively by my hosts – part of a bull that I would not recommend.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Positive, driven and pragmatic.

What was your lucky break?

I am a strong believer that you make your own lucky breaks through your own actions.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Avengers actors Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson, Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Listen and tune into what people say and do in whatever organisation you find yourself in. Be true to what you believe in.

What job would you like your children to do?

You should be there to give advice when needed but not to direct. I want my children to have jobs that will make them feel fulfilled as individuals.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Asking the chief finance officer when he was going to get out of the lift when he commented on how much “overhead” there was in the lift.

Sum up your philosophy in life in one sentence.

Deal with people in the way in which you would like them to deal with you.


Jul 2008-present

Chief people officer, The College of Law (legal education and training provider)

Jan 2005-May 2008

Global chief people officer, DLA Piper (professional services)

Jan 1997-Jan 2005

HR director, DLA (professional services)

Jun 1990-Dec 1996

Resources director, Edge & Ellison (professional services)

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