Written by
Tom Ritchie

Published
11 May 2018

Career profile: Catherine Lynch, Virgin Media

11 May 2018 • by Tom Ritchie

CV in brief

  • Jan 2017 - present: chief people officer, Virgin Media
  • Oct 2015 - Dec 2016: group HR director, Towergate Insurance
  • Jan 2013 - Jul 2015: group HR & communications director BGL Group
  • Jun 2004 - Jun 2011: HR director, manufacturing & integration, Santander UK Corporate & Commercial

A day in your life

Tell us about your job, organisation and team

I am the chief people officer of Virgin Media, a UK based telecommunications company with 13,000 employees.

The people function has around 200 employees working on our core focus of building a capable and effective leadership team, increasing employee engagement and driving high performance across the organisation.

I work closely with Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global and I sit on the global People Leadership Team Board where we drive programmes to improve scale and increase efficiencies.

I have nine direct reports that make up my People Leadership Team (PLT). Five partner the business across its various divisions and three centres of excellence; employee experience, reward and transformation & operations. They are a strong, talented and hard-working leadership team.

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

The rewarding parts include pushing our inclusion agenda, being a part of the Virgin brand and creating high performing teams in the people and leadership functions.

The challenging bits? Juggling workload, and at times, the conflicting local and global priorities.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days are full on. I am normally in first thing for a daily catch up with my EA before heading into my first meeting at around 9am. This is normally followed by series of internal meetings with board members, my PLT, and other colleagues across Virgin Media/Liberty Global, or external meetings as well as interviews.

Each day you can expect the unexpected.  Working for a large company brings its daily successes and challenges which I face head on.  Each day I work with my team towards our company objectives and people strategy.  I tend to leave the office around 7:30pm to head home or attend an industry event or client dinner.

Why did you choose your organisation?

To work in an international company in a growing sector with great people.

What skills are essential for your role?

Resilience, adaptability and collaboration.

Career path

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

By taking personal risks, making sacrifices and trying to juggle my home and work lives.

What challenges did you face along the way? How did you overcome them? 

Learning to say no, and knowing when 'enough' is actually 'good enough'! I overcame them by breaking down silos in a business that had traditionally operated very seperately. 

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

Believe in yourself. Get comfortable not always being liked, but respected. Slow down and try to enjoy the journey. 

Either/or

  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Sweet or savoury? Savoury
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Neither
  • Apple or Android? Apple
  • Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert
  • Early bird or night owl? Both
  • Winter or summer? Spring
  • City or countryside? Both

Favourites

  • App: Garmin Connect - it's been great for my training for the London Marathon
  • Film: English Patient - the most romantic film ever, and Ralph Fiennes - what more do I need to say?
  • Song: 'Shine' by Take That - it always makes me smile. Or 'Nothing Compares 2 U' by Sinead O'Connor - it makes me cry
  • Book: Heidi by Johanna Spyri - Me and my dad used to read it together as a child
  • Childhood hero: Sir David Attenborough - I wanted to travel the world too
  • Guilty pleasure: A little lie-in on a Saturday after a busy week
  • Place to eat: Nobu - amazing attention to detail
  • Holiday spot: Sydney - my two best friends live there