Top job: Sarah Coochey, HR director, commercial and corporate functions, Indesit UK

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

I worked at Rolls-Royce with the customer business team of their civil aerospace division.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a bachelor of commerce degree, majoring in management.

What are the duties in your new role?

HR responsibility for the commercial and corporate functions of Indesit UK & Ireland. My team supports our service and logistics organisations and the commercial, marketing, finance, purchasing and IT functions.

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

Supporting our organisations through the current economic situation. This gives HR the opportunity to prove its value – showing how we can make a difference. We need to operate with a consciousness of what’s to follow and ensure our businesses aren’t too short-sighted, focusing purely on the now.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?


And what work tool would you like to see invented?

Any clever and simple reporting tool. I believe reporting is vital but I don’t think we’re smart enough about it as a rule, usually because we don’t have good systems in place to make it easy.

What is the worst thing about HR?

We don’t practise what we preach when it comes to how we treat HR people.

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

A workout or a run is perfect.

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

Trying to explain to people struggling with my accent that we don’t have ‘pit lambs’ in New Zealand or send ‘sheeps’ to Antarctica. Unbelievable.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Emotional, impatient and driven. The first two might sound negative, but as long as I harness the good and manage the bad, I’m happy.

What was your lucky break?

Moving from PricewaterhouseCoopers to Deloitte – I found the right boss and the right company. There was something about the culture that allowed me to be myself, grow and succeed. It was a turning point.

What do you regret about your career?

Nothing. You learn and grow from everything.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Writer Harper Lee, late New Zealand politician David Lange and rapper Kanye West.

Tell us about your best ever holiday

Fiji. I visited remote islands and secluded beaches – the sea life and laidback lifestyle were amazing.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Take risks, and don’t give up. Roles I thought would be the biggest risks have been the most rewarding.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Running an open space event for 250 people. It was either going to be a huge success or a huge failure; luckily it was the former.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Have a laugh and enjoy what you do.

Coochey’s CV

  • Nov 2008-present – HR director, Indesit UK (white goods)
    Nov 2006-Nov 2008 – HR business partner, Rolls-Royce (civil aerospace)
    2005-2006 – Contract roles as HR manager at Boots and HR business partner at the Learning and Skills Council
    Sept 2000-Apr 2005 – Succession of roles from national HR co-ordinator to HR business partner, Deloitte (financial consulting)
    Nov 1998-Sep 2000 – HR co-ordinator, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (financial consulting)

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