Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Interview with Karen Caddick, group director of human resources, Punch Taverns 05/10/2009
As the pub industry faces Challenges from the current tough economic climate and the smoking ban, Ellie Rich from Michael Page Executive Search speaks to Karen Caddick, group director of Human Resources for Punch Taverns about the changes she has put in place since joining the business in 2006
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- About Punch Taverns
- What issues are facing the pub industry currently?
- What was the business like when you joined?
- How has it evolved since?
- How would you describe the culture at Punch?
- What changes have you put in place?
- How has the Ulrich Model worked for Punch?
- What made you become a HR professional?
- What do you look for when recruiting & CIPD views?
- Career history
About Punch Taverns
What issues are facing the pub industry currently?
The current economic downturn impacts on both our leased and managed pubs and we are working hard to support our lessees to be competitive and improve their offering to enable them to compete. Support for lessees is incredibly important - it’s a partnership and we are working hard to provide much needed support. Equally in our managed pubs, being price competitive is incredibly important through these difficult times and so we’re working hard to ensure we have compelling offers for our guests. The great British Pub is an important part of our cultural heritage and it is incredibly resilient!
What was the business like when you joined?
How has it evolved since?
We realised many synergies by pulling together our central functions to cover both the leased and managed divisions and through this we also started to build our ‘Punch’ culture. The organisation now feels like an integrated organisation with two divisions that share support and which benefit from sharing learning and expertise. We’ve heavily focused on building our leadership team to support this cultural change, and this has really paid off in terms of keeping our teams focused. The culture is much more focused on operational performance, excellence in guest experience and providing a great partnership experience for our leased partners.
We have been through a fair amount of downsizing over the last few years with the sale of over 900 pubs to Admiral and a couple of cost reduction exercises. We have also gone through a process of consulting with our pub teams on their terms and conditions.
Previously, we had 27 different sets of terms and conditions in our managed division, we now have one. So the organisation has been through a lot of change. We have, however, kept our teams fully involved and despite the amount of change in the business and the adverse external climate, morale has been sustained through a focused effort by our wider leadership team supported by HR.
How would you describe the culture at Punch?
What changes have you put in place?
In the first six weeks, I spent time getting to know the team and understanding the organisation. I presented my findings to the Board and that became the basis of the HR strategy, which I have evolved since with huge involvement from my team. I identified the need for a higher calibre leadership team within HR and have made changes including restructuring and also hiring some new people. I have worked with the team to unlock their potential; before I joined they weren’t really operating as an integrated HR function. We now have team meetings and I have regular one-to-ones with all of the function. I always ask them ‘what would you change to improve things in the business?’ which allows me to find out problems and help fix them.
I now have a brilliant team, some people have developed hugely and I’m really proud of them all. We have had a big focus on a number of key areas including improving our leadership capability and rapidly improving calibre in the business as well as saving the business money. We’ve been very successful and our HR strategy has added significant and recognised value to the business. We are recognised as being a very commercial function. We have recently had to put in place a pay freeze but we have made sure that, despite difficult trading, people still have a reasonable bonus opportunity skewed to reward high performers. This has helped us to maintain morale. We have earned
our credibility as HR business partners.
How has the Ulrich Model worked for Punch?
we regularly get fantastic feedback from our colleagues across the business. We were even voted best support function by our managed operators.
What made you become a HR professional?
What do you look for when recruiting & CIPD views?
I look for commercial people who would share the values of the organisation. Our values are; Pride, Respect, One Team, Understanding and Do it once do it right. Out of these, I believe respect is the most important. I look for people who have done their homework and researched the organisation; it shocks me how many people don’t do this. I also look for pragmatic people.
Who do you respect in HR?
Imelda Walsh, HR director at Sainsbury’s. Stephen Taylor is also someone I rate highly, he is now at Camelot, he was a great mentor for me. I worked with both at Barclays, both say it as it is!
Punch Taverns – Group Director of HR
2005-2006: Financial Times – Global HR Director
2003-2005: Channel 5 – Head of HR
Barclays Bank Plc – Head of ER & HR
Policy & Practice
Royal & Sun Alliance – Graduate Trainee
& Operational roles, progressing to
Head of HR More Than
Masters in American Studies – Glasgow University
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