Written by
Tom Ritchie

17 Nov 2017

Career profile: Stuart Branch, group HR & IT director, Weetabix Food Company

17 Nov 2017 • by Tom Ritchie

CV in brief

  • 2009-2012: HR & customer services director, Masco Corporation
  • 2008-2009: Director, CAB Associates
  • 2006-2008: OD director, Boots the Chemists
  • 2004-2006: Head of corporate HR, development & change, Alliance & Leicester

A day in your life

Tell us about your job, organisation and team.

My job is about making Weetabix a great place to work, through the talent, capabilities, behaviours and ways of working of our brilliant people. I also look after the systems, processes and the tools people have to do their jobs - covering both the HR team and IT & business systems team.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am a little guilty of a few hours before 8am and after 5pm for emails, admin, reading and prep-work, as I tend to spend a lot of hours between 8am and 5pm in one-to-ones, team and business meetings. I believe a saying I heard from a friend a few years back… “conversations change organisations” I truly love meeting our people and listening as well as talking to them.    

Why did you choose to work for your current organisation?

The heritage of the brand as well as the business, the trust that consumers and colleagues have in us (to always do the right thing), and above all that the opportunity to make a difference in work and at work every day.

What skills are essential for your role?

Communication, by which I mean listening more than talking, but being also clear concise and influential in what I do communicate, verbally and behaviourally. 

Career path

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

I loved operations and have chosen the HR roles that I have where there is a need to work with operations specifically, as well as the whole of the business.

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

A huge number, every day is a learning day, every day (especially in HR) is different, dealing with soft (complex) as well as hard issues. The most fun challenges have been growing teams like our business in China and establishing the leadership teams in Kenya or South Africa; and, always, the most difficult are always the very personal family stories of current or ex-colleagues with issues of ill health or even worse matters.      

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

Again there are many, I am very proud to be called the group HR & IT director of Weetabix. We are a truly recognised international if not global brand. But also, personally, it’s the number of friendships I have with ex-colleagues, where our relationships have gone beyond the years and months of our working time together. 

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

Be true to yourself, think about and reflect on how your work and your life has purpose and meaning. Work is so much more enjoyable, when you know what’s expected, you feel you’re making a difference and when you are learning and having fun. 

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

Be brave, do it!


Coffee or tea? Hot water rather than either
Sweet or savoury? Savoury all the way, always a starter, never a pudding
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Stones - although I'm normally more pop than rock
Apple or Android? Apple as they deliver the best user experience
Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert
Early bird or night owl? Early bird - mornings are the best part of the day
Summer or winter? All four seasons, it's the best thing about the UK
Country or city? Countryside and village boy, especially when I'm on my mountain or road bike.


App: Ultimate Rugby, I love my Premiership rugby and especially the Northampton Saints
Film: I’m a sucker of a Bond film – Skyfall or Casino Royale
Song: Aint Nobody Chaka Khan, I love the soul and funk side of pop music
Book: First Break All The Rules (What the world’s greatest managers do differently)
Childhood hero: Duncan Goodhew, as a swimmer and the baldness
Guilty pleasure: Salted cashews, with tea, coffee, glass of wine or pint of ale
Place to eat: Home – my wife’s cooking is superb, both daughters are getting very good too
Holiday spot: Menorca - with the family, or the French Alps (skiing) with my mates  
Piece of advice you’ve been given: Leadership is at least 9/10ths  behaviour and…‘having purpose’ is the meaning of life.