Top job… Ruth Gawthorpe

What is your new role?

Earlier this year, I was appointed as HR director at SITEL, with responsibility for HR and training across all of the SITEL UK business. Recently this role has developed even further and my new job title is director of HR and corporate development. In addition to fulfilling all the usual roles of an HR director, such as recruitment and training, I have also been charged with directing compliance, project management and corporate strategy.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was head of HR and training at Inkfish call centres, which has three sites and 1,500 seats. I was responsible for compliance and internal communications, HR and training.

What qualifications do you hold?

I am CIPD qualified, in addition to various GCSEs and A-levels.

How big is your team and who do you report to?

I report directly to the managing director Mark Brown, and I’m in charge of a 35-strong HR and training team, a project management team of five and a compliance team of two.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

Add value to the business and to support my colleagues, so that together we can achieve the objectives of the company.

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

Legislation. HR teams need to be adept at identifying what is coming next, how it will impact the business, and be proactive in dealing with these changes.

What is the essential tool in your job?


And the most overrated?

No skill you can bring to the job is overrated. The role is so varied that it is essential to have a full toolbox and use every skill available to you.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The amount of red tape that can develop around procedures, and getting your head around the constantly changing legislation.

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

Ensure you get an operations background so that you gain credibility. It is really imperative that those who are interested in pursuing a career in HR get a management qualification and some hands-on experience, so they fully understand the business as well as the people needs.

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

At a previous job there was an employee who, unfortunately, conducted a nude protest in the main reception area.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘We haven’t got the bandwidth’.

What was the last book you read?

Bess of Hardwick, by Mary S Lovell.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Love Shack, by the B-52s.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?

Felicity Kendall, because she’s very strong, but at the same time she’s fun-loving.

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

Victoria Beckham. I think she would knock my confidence after only a few minutes.

Gawthorpe’s CV

  • June 2006-present: Director of HR and corporate development, SITEL

  • August 1999-May 2006: Head of HR, Inkfish

  • 1996-1999: Regional HR and training manager, Bass Brewers

  • 1993-1996: HR manager, Coats Viyella

  • 1990-1993: HR manager, Granada Theme Parks

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