Written by
Mary Appleton

30 Aug 2016

Q&A: Lorraine Metcalfe, HR director, Zoopla

30 Aug 2016 • by Mary Appleton

Tell us about your career background

I started my career as a PA for an entrepreneur and he was the one who both sponsored and encouraged me to move into HR and become CIPD qualified.

I spent nearly 10 years working for Electronic Arts, during their early, acquisitive years, which was an absolute privilege; they were years ahead from a people perspective and I worked with some amazingly talented people.

I've also spent short amounts of time working in the corporate HR world but it's the high growth, change and commercial HR roles that keep me engaged.

Whats the biggest area of learning youve been through in your career?

Constant change and adapting to that both personally and also from a professional perspective, adapting the people solutions and ensuring they align and are joined up for my colleagues.

How many employees does Zoopla have across the globe, across how many locations?

We have just shy of 750 staff across the UK, in eight locations; three of which are in London and will be coming together in the Autumn in a new office. However we also have a variety of home-workers and field-workers too.

As group HRD, what is your vision/mission?

To provide the most useful resources for managers when finding, retaining, managing and developing their people – and be the most effective business partner for achieving results through and with our employees.

Whats your biggest challenge now from a people perspective & how are you tackling it?

Continuing to scale while maintaining our staff engagement and respecting a variety of different cultures while being aligned behind our group vision and values.

Whats top of your agenda for 2016?

Ongoing integration, team alignment, staff engagement and attracting and retaining talent – difficult to choose between them as they are so intrinsically linked and all equally important – thank goodness I have a great team supporting me!

Can you offer a couple of successful change initiatives youve pioneered with the business?

We implemented a new HR system in January 2015 which we've continued to develop and build and has meant that we've been able to outsource our payroll systems, integrate our new acquisitions, report easily, drive out HR administration and free up resources for the HR team to work on value add activities to our employees and develop themselves along the way. We've also extended our already diverse benefit offering, having listened to our staff and launched a comms platform to engage our staff in our benefits and drive improved communication throughout the business. 

The final key initiative is we've hired our first ever group head of learning & development to drive engagement and development opportunities for our colleagues across the business, and ensuring they are ready and skilled for our ongoing growth.

Whats next on your agenda?

The ongoing integration of our latest acquisition and our office relocation to bring our 3 London offices into 1 amazing space.

More broadly, how do you see the world of work evolving in the future?

I think there are a number of changes on the horizon especially given the Referendum outcome which will have significant ramifications for digital businesses. I think we'll have to be very open minded on the way we rise to these challenges. We are already talking about the types of steps we need to take and the adjustments to our working practices to minimise the impact this will create. It could be an exciting time for our staff and will drive new ways of working for us.


  • TV show: Tough one, probably White Collar
  • Book: I'm a prolific reader whether it's business books or fictional - I'm enjoying Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg at the moment but who knows what will catch my interest after that!
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: I work long hours so Friday night is date night with my husband!
  • Food: Lobster
  • Holiday spot: Antigua
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: Aim high, work hard and smart and don't keep beating yourself up – oh and have fun along the way! The people who gave me these pieces of advice I'm sure will recognise themselves!