Top job: Teri Ellison, HR director, SAP UK and Ireland

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

I ran a consultancy where I worked with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their HR strategies, as well as helping chief executives and managers develop their skills.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have an MBA from London Business School

What are the duties in your new role?

I manage a team of 13 and we’re responsible for supporting recruitment, contracts, training, rewards and benefits for approximately 800 employees. I will also be playing a key role in ensuring a smooth cultural integration between SAP and Business Objects, following the acquisition last year.

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

The skills shortage is a big one, particularly for the IT industry as it’s harder to find talent, and companies are increasingly competing with jobs from overseas. Retaining staff will also be important: as skills become scarcer it will be vital to keep employees motivated and ensure they receive the training and development opportunities to keep them in their jobs.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

E-mail, because it really is good to talk.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

An ideas collector, where great ideas are put into a machine then come out the other end as fully implemented business processes.

What is the worst thing about HR?

It’s always sad to see a great employee go.

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

I don’t have bad days, but after busy days I ride home on my motor cycle.

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

In a previous role I had to deal with a man who decided to strip by a lake.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate, relaxed and pragmatic.

What was your lucky break?

When a manager told me I had more potential than required for the role I was in. That one conversation turned things around for me.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Statesman Nelson Mandela, singer Anastasia, socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, and my mum

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Speak to someone in the industry to get a feel for what the job really involves and what skills you need to succeed.

What job would you like your children to do?

Whatever they choose as long as they are happy and passionate about it.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Jumping out of an aeroplane.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Enjoy life by having balance and all the elements that are important to you.


Teri Ellison, HR director, SAP UK and Ireland (business software)

June 2008-present

HR director, SAP UK and Ireland

Jan 2007-June 2008

Consultant, SAP UK and Ireland

April 2005- July 2007

HR director, Avanade UK (IT)

Sep1999- April 2005

Started in marketing, then moved into HR, Microsoft (IT)

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