CV in brief:
- 2015-2016: People director – reward and employee services, Morrisons
- 2014-2015: Group people director, Benenden
- 2013-2014: Interim head of HR, The Co-operative Group
- 2008-2013: Group HR director, CPP Group
- 2006-2008: Head of HR, HBOS Insurance
A day in your life
Tell us about your job and organisation
Morrisons is one of the biggest food retailers in the UK, and the second biggest food manufacturer and employs approximately 130,000 people. I lead the teams responsible for employee relations, reward and resourcing – so every day is different and busy, very busy!
Who do you report into?
I report to the group people director, Clare Grainger. She is awesome; fantastic energy and the ability to make things straightforward and accessible, which only really smart people can do.
Tell us about your team
I lead specialist teams, and they are incredibly passionate and proud about what they do. Everyone from the central teams spend at least a week a year in store so we keep close to colleagues – and customers – so we know who we're here to serve.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Making things simpler and better for 130,000 employees is an amazing opportunity, and I love seeing my team learn and grow and take pride in delivering great solutions.
What is the most challenging part of the role?
My responsibilities are very varied; keeping up with them and moving between them is the hardest part of the job.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I'm usually in early, I prefer to miss the traffic. Then it's mostly meetings; anything from meeting with our union partners, to working through employment tribunal cases, preparing board papers with the finance team, talking health and wellbeing strategies, 121s with my team, meeting resourcing providers or (if I'm really lucky) the employment taxes committee.
Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?
I love the fast paced commercial environment of retailing, and the people really make Morrisons special. Everyone is very friendly, helpful and straightforward. And they tolerate my tendency to swear. A lot.
Perks and downsides of your role?
Gosh, there are so many brilliant aspects of the job, but the staff discount is obviously great! There aren't really any downsides, but it can be relentless and you have to be disciplined to have a life outside work.
What skills are essential for the role you’re in?
Being organised, good at prioritising, able to deliver through others, lots of energy and having a sense of humour. And the swearing – very creative swearing.
How did you get to where you are now?
Entirely through accident, but having worked as HRD in smaller companies as well as strategic roles in bigger organisations has been a really good combination.
What were your best subjects in school?
I loved Latin and Greek at school, but I wasn't very good at them. I studied psychology at university and recently did a certificate in the neuroscience of leadership and organisations which was fascinating.
What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?
It was food retailing on a much smaller scale; my parents had a delicatessen on Portobello Road and I worked there weekends and school holidays.
Have you followed the career path you set out to?
I know you're not supposed to say this, but I've never had a plan. I've always just done what I thought would be fun and challenging, and worked where I thought I could make a difference. It's served me pretty well so far.
What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?
Being a young woman in business often brings challenges about being taken seriously. Fortunately, time has taken care of that! I have learned to speak THE truth, even if your voice shakes. You'll never regret being true to your values and integrity.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?
Well, for this one I did challenge the CEO to a ham skinning race. He has yet to take me up on it.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
They are the personal moments, when someone tells me I've made a difference to them. I remember every one, but one that really stands out was helping a young woman escape a forced marriage.
Do you have any career regrets?
No, even the things that haven't worked out as planned have provided good learning and led to other things.
What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?
Put yourself out to get involved broadly and try everything you can. Don't specialise too early. Don't take yourself too seriously.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self? Not to worry, it will all be fine.
- Coffee or tea? I gave up caffeine quite a few years ago, so green tea mostly
- Jam or marmalade? I'm greedy – one of each, on white, buttered toast
- The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles
- Mac or PC? PC
- The Guardian or The Times? Eurgh, neither
- BBC or ITV? BBC
- M&S or Waitrose? Neither, obviously, Morrisons all the way. If you haven't tried our signature beef, you're really missing out.
- Morning or night? Morning!
- Rain or snow? Rain, I hate driving in the snow. I call it a "massive white inconvenience"
- Sweet or savoury? Sweet. I would live on chocolate and bubblegum flavoured cola bottles given a chance
- App: Facebook, I love keeping in touch with my friends' lives
- TV show: 30 Rock – guaranteed laughter and only 22 minutes
- Band: I'm an indie kid so would struggle to choose between "suede" and "the wonder stuff". Both wonderful live.
- Song: "New Generation" by Suede. That sort of answers the previous question, doesn't it?
- Book: "To Kill a Mockingbird", the perfect American novel.
- Sports team: I don't know any!
- Thing to do on a Friday night: Order a take away and refuse to share with the kids on the basis they've already brushed their teeth and should be in bed
- Place to eat: A fabulous tapas bar near us called "Viva Cuba". The kids like it too so it's lovely to go and share and tuck in and argue over who gets the last calamari
- Holiday spot: Orlando, I love the theme parks. The logistics of running them are extraordinary and Disney is such a case study in customer experience. And they're fun.
- Piece of advice you’ve been given: "Don't worry about being competitive, just make yourself better than everyone else"
Bonus question: If a movie was made about your life, who would play you and why?
Tina Fey. She's smarter, thinner and funnier... but that's the point of casting, right?