Written by
Tom Ritchie

10 Nov 2017

Career profile: Mat Davies, group HR director, Addison Lee Group

10 Nov 2017 • by Tom Ritchie

CV in brief

  • 2013 - 2016: HR director, CGI
  • 2011 - 2013: HR director, Logica
  • 2009 - 2011: Head of HR, BT Global Services

A day in your life

Tell us about your job, organisation and team.

I’m the HR director for the Addison Lee Group. ALG is the largest private hire operator globally with 5,500 own vehicles and 50,000 vehicles in its network. We deliver over 10m passenger journeys a year, have 3m customers, 24,000 business customers and are trusted by over 80% of the FTSE 100. I lead the HR function internationally covering all aspects of support to our 1600 employees from payroll to learning & development, reward and benefits, organisation design and employee relations.

What is the most rewarding and challenging parts of your role?

The challenge of this role is a significant but compelling one. The business is going through a huge amount of growth. Over the past 18 months we have completed three acquisitions- two of which are USA based- and are looking to expand further. In an industry that undergoing rapid and unprecedented change, my role has HR director and the work of the team has evolved and continues to evolve at a similar cadence.

What does a typical day look like for you?

The oft quoted cliché of “No two days” are the same can often feel like no two hours being the same, given the speed at which the industry is moving. My day can cover an enormous variety, from instructing design companies on new offices, talking to apprentices about career options in the group, recruiting talent to the business, driving strategic workforce planning and ensuring organisation changes are implemented appropriately are all part of the job. Ensuring that we pay our brilliant 1600 employees properly and on time is also an understandably high priority. 

Career path

How did you get to where you are now? Have you followed the career path you expected?

I suppose it has been a combination of luck, judgement and hard work that has got me to this place. I haven’t really had a pre-determined career path. I have always been interested in working with great people and doing jobs that I found intellectually and professionally rewarding. For the most part, I have been lucky enough to have been able to find that blend. It isn’t always plain sailing; you may not have a great boss; you might not like the culture of the place you’re in; you might not be doing your job that well. A key factor in work is to recognise when things aren’t going so well and use them to your advantage. This requires self-reflection, tenacity and a level of humility.

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

My career in HR started with Barclays Bank where I joined their fast track leadership programme as a graduate. Barclays was a brilliant training ground for me. The scale of the business was astonishing and the breadth and depth of HR opportunities that were afforded me, equally so. If you can find something like that where you can blend the people and opportunities, then you won’t go far wrong.

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

There hasn’t been one moment that stands out for me in terms of my career, rather a series of moments. All of them are related to people I have worked with and all are related to receiving feedback about the difference you have made to them personally or professionally through the work you do as an HR practitioner. Life is so short and fleeting and to know that you’ve made a positive impact is hugely motivating and energising.

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

For anyone thinking of making a career in HR, I would totally encourage them to do it: it is an amazing job and an amazing profession. I’d encourage people to find themselves great people to learn from.

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

As for my 22 year old self, I would say to them that your dad is right; even if he is driving you mad, he probably is right.


Coffee or tea? Coffee
Sweet or savoury? Starter over dessert every time
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Metallica
Apple or Android? Apple
Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert
Early bird or night owl? Candle being burnt at both ends
Winter or summer? As anyone knows, the best season is Autumn
City or countryside? City


App: Spotify; as a music nut, discovering new and old stuff is an unalloyed joy
Film:  The Wizard of Oz. Unsurpassed
Song:  Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen is the best song about love, ambition, escape and drive that’s ever been written
Book: Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Childhood hero: Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool FC’s greatest player
Guilty pleasure: Haribo
Place to eat: Thai food in Koh Samui is pretty special
Holiday spot: Australia
Piece of advice you’ve been given: You only get one go at life: make sure the go you have is an amazing one.