Top job: Steve Simpson, head of HR, Student Loans Company

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was head of HR and organisational development at BAE Systems Naval Ships. My key duties were working with the functional areas of the business on organisational design and development activities and ensuring that the HR strategy was being implemented.

What qualifications do you hold?

BA (Hons) Public Administration Postgraduate Diploma in HRM MA in Law and Employment Relations, MBA Fellow of CIPD.

What are the duties in your new role? How big is your team and who do you report to?

I report directly to the chief executive. I have a team of 22 in HR services and 24 in learning and development. I will be supporting the business in the achievement of the key performance indicators set by the Department for Education and ensuring HR activity is aligned to the company strategy.

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

I feel that companies which have outsourced HR services such as recruitment and employee development will start to bring them back in-house. Why would you outsource the most important activity of attracting, recruiting and developing your key talent?

What is the essential tool in your job?

My intelligence and business acumen.

And the most over-rated?

Psychometric testing.

What is the worst thing about HR?

HR professionals who do not recognise the value of a strong trade union relationship.

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

Having to deal with the termination of employment of a senior European executive and doing it through a translator.

Who is your ultimate hero?

Lance Armstrong.

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

HR people who say that you need to ‘drill down’ and ‘flesh it out’.

How do you fill your spare time?

Half marathons and 10km runs.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Dedicated, committed and efficient.

What is your favourite web page?

Anything relating to TV series 24.

What song gets you on the dance floor?

Push the button by the Sugababes.

What is your worst habit?

I only have good habits.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Doing an MBA so early in my management career.

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

My Oakleys [sunglasses], sunscreen and a solar-powered internet radio.

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

A younger Robert de Niro – he is a such a brilliant actor.

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

When I went to a National Training Awards evening function at a previous company and one of our employees won a special award – it was a great night and seeing someone being recognised like that was special.

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

Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho.

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