Career Profile: Dr Siobhan Martin, executive director HR, Mercer

Written by
Sarah Clark

07 Aug 2016

07 Aug 2016 • by Sarah Clark

Basic details

CV in brief:

  • Global HR BP retirement, Investments Mercer
  • EMEA HR director, Mercer
  • Australia/New Zealand HR director, Mercer
  • Senior manager, management consulting, Ernst & Young

A day in the life

Tell us about your job and organisation

I’m on the UK board and executive leadership of fantastic company called Mercer. We’re a global company of 20,000 employers who transform the way employers and their people make decisions about their health, wealth, and careers.

My primary responsibilities as UK HRD are setting strategic human capital direction, driving and supporting company-wide change and performance, succession and talent management.

Who do you report into?

I report to the UK CEO and the Europe/Pacific HR director.

Tell us about your team 

We have a wonderful group of HRBP’s and centre of expertise specialists based around the globe serving the business.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Making profound and long lasting cultural change, particularly around the inclusivity of our workforce to reflect the diversity of modern Britain.

And the most challenging part of the role?

We’re complex and fast moving. Must remember to breathe!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Starts early with the kids and the dog (a mini dachshund called Nudel – love of our lives), many people to speak to and decisions to be made. Ends late with a cuddle from the best people and dog who started the day.

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?

The CEO really got it about people. It never felt like an uphill struggle.

Perks and downsides of your role?

Being the voice of change and really being able to make things happen, but the downside is sometimes not having space for my family as much as they really should have.

What skills are essential for the role you’re in?

Diplomacy, influence, sensitivity and courage.

Career path

How did you get to where you are now?

I was born in rural Australia in a quite isolated community and raised by my immigrant mum with my three brothers and sisters. Grinding poverty along with lots of love and a really friendly supportive community that made all the difference.  

The girl guides, the Country Women’s Association (the Australian WI) and the Anglican church were great starts in early leadership and adventure.

What were your best subjects in school?

Humanities was where I excelled then I took a dual science/humanities track at university and took my PhD in forensic psychology.

What was your first job?

Having worked on farms from the age of 10, I became a psychology tutor and a librarian once I went to university. Students get up to some interesting things in libraries…

Have you followed the career path you set out to?

I’ve always followed the path that was most interesting at the time rather than have a grand plan.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

As a young woman in business I experienced overt sexism and harassment. That which doesn’t kill you certainly does make you stronger.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Being recognised on the OUTStanding Top 100 LGBT Executives list published by the Financial Times two years running.

Do you have any career regrets?

No. I’ve been blessed by the opportunities that have come my way.

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?

Don’t wait to be asked, think broadly, and show as many people as you can what you’re capable of.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid. Horrible people don’t survive in business for any length of time. Strong, good people really do.


  • Coffee or tea? An Aussie flat white to start the day then English breakfast to keep it going
  • Jam or marmalade? Vegemite
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Beatles. I collect vinyl and have all my dad’s old Beatles records
  • Mac or PC? I’ve made the very late conversion to Apple. Last one on the planet?!
  • The Guardian or The Times? Guardian. My two teenagers and I are a big social issues campaigning household
  • BBC or ITV? BBC – what an amazing gift to the world
  • M&S or Waitrose? Waitrose if we can’t go to a small trader
  • Morning or night? Morning
  • Rain or snow? I saw snow for the first time at 18 in Colorado and I come from a drought ridden country – so RAIN
  • Sweet or savoury? Savoury. Love to cook


  • App: Buzzfeed. Serious news side by side with ridiculous quizzes. Who knew I was really 23 years old and will marry Daniel Radcliffe?
  • TV show: Detectorists and Game of Thrones
  • Band: Daft Punk and actual punk
  • Song: Stand by me – The Clash. Takes me straight back. One of the best things about growing up is actually being able to afford real Vivienne Westwood clothes. We used to copy everything in the 80’s. Buffalo Girls, anyone?
  • Book: War and Peace closely followed by Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. Two of the greatest stories ever told, one of which is about my home
  • Sports team: Collingwood Football Club. LOVE Aussie rules
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Pub quiz reigning champion!
  • Place to eat: Scran and Scallie, Stockbridge Edinburgh
  • Holiday spot: Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Beautiful, peaceful
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: Everyone else is worried and under confident too, so just get on with it.
  • Who would play you in a movie? Ellen Degeneres …in my dreams!