Top job Sandy Begbie HR director, Aegon UK

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

I was HR director at Scottish Power, where I was responsible for all aspects of human resources including reward, learning and development, resourcing, employment policy and pensions.

What qualifications do you hold?

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland MBA, Edinburgh University.

What are the duties in your new role?

I have full responsibility for the delivery of all HR services. I report to the chief executive, and I have about 135 staff.

What are the main challenges HR faces?

Maximising the return on investment in HR systems, and delivering on efficiency and effectiveness targets while attracting, retaining, developing and rewarding people, will be critical to the success of any organisation.

What is the essential tool in your job?

I’m sad to say it is my BlackBerry.

And the most overrated?

I don’t think anything is overrated.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The focus on process over outputs.

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

I was in the US when 9/11 happened. I will never forget that day.

Who is your ultimate hero?

Margaret Thatcher – her vision and leadership in a very male-dominated world was inspirational.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘Knowledge management’. Surely this is just common sense.

How do you fill your spare time?

I play golf, and I enjoy gardening and family holidays.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Honest, driven, and self-assured.

What is your favourite web page?

Sunday Times Wine Club.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Most songs from the early 1980s.

What is your worst habit?

Looking at problems from an analytical perspective and missing the emotional aspects.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving The Royal Bank of Scotland after 16 years and joining Scottish Power.

What three items would you take with you on a desert island?

My wife, my wine collection, and the largest cheeseboard in the world.

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

Mel Gibson. I once went to a fancy dress party dressed as Braveheart.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?

Christmas 2005 was the best party anyone could remember – I organised it.

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

Tony Blair.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence

Have absolute clarity on your goals for life then work hard to achieve them.


Sep 2007-present
HR director, Aegon UK (insurance company)

Jan 2005-Aug 2007
HR director, Scottish Power

Oct 2002-Jan 2005
Director, group talent management and executive reward, Scottish Power

Aug 2001-Sep 2002
Director, group leadership and organisation development, Scottish Power

Jan 2001-Aug 2001
Programme director, organisation business change, Scottish Power

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