Top job: Wendy Dean, head of HR, Steelite International

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

I was working for FedEx UK as HR director for the group. My role was to define HR strategy for the business. This involved ensuring compliance with legislation while making sure that HR was the driving force behind culture change following the acquisition by FedEx of ANC in December 2006.

What qualifications do you hold?

I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

What are the duties in your new role?

To use my experience to help facilitate change within the organisation and develop an HR strategy that will complement current and future business requirements.

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

To remain focused on what HR is about. There are increasing demands on what HR can bring to an organisation, and it can be easy to forget the basis of why we are there.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?


And what work tool would you like to see invented?

One that guarantees that everyone thinks appraisals are the best thing since sliced bread.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Probably trying to keep up with all the legislative changes.

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

As soon as I get in my car for the drive home, I’ve normally forgotten about the bad day. I’m a very positive person so not a lot bothers me so much that I would take it home.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Positive, enthusiastic, and determined.

What was your lucky break?

When a new CEO was appointed to ANC. He had a vision to change the culture and used me to help implement programmes to do this. He put total faith in me and I grew enormously in my job as a result. This gave me confidence and belief in my abilities.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Comedian Peter Kay, entrepreneur Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den fame, fashion stylist Gok Wan, football coach Jose Mourinho, and Hillary Clinton.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

You get out what you put in. HR today is much more business focused and anyone wanting a rewarding career in HR should be prepared to look at the job holistically, and their role as not just that of a service provider. Chief executives are expecting a global strategic view today, so sound commercial knowledge is key.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Buying a property abroad after only seeing a piece of land and an artist’s impression.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Being positive attracts positives.


  • Jul 2008 to present: HR director, Steelite International (tableware supplier and manufacturer)

  • Nov 2001-Jun 2008: HR director, FedEx UK, previously ANC (express parcel carrier)

  • Dec 1992-Nov 2001: HR manager, ANC

  • Aug 1990-Dec1992: Personnel officer, ANC

  • Mar 1984-Aug1990: Personnel officer, Royal Ordnance (small arms manufacturer)

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