Global HR Director
So I’m the Global HR Director for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer which is a bit of mouthful. We are an international legal firm and my job really involves a wide variety of things associated with how as a business we go about attracting the people that we want to come and join us and work for us in the first instance. Through the sort of training that people get, the career experience, how much we pay them, how we pay them and also when we run into some difficulties about how we are going to say goodbye to them. So my job because of its global nature involves me having to travel around our office network is one of the, I have to say, the aspects of my job that I most enjoy.
My experience of school was pretty good I have to say. I went to the local comprehensive school; I was usually pretty near the top of the class, which I guess helps a bit enjoying that. I did some sciences I did some art, I did one language, that’s probably the one I wasn’t so good at. I really wish I’d spent more time on my French lessons because certainly being able to speak a second language has, on occasions I think held me back.
So when I left school I went straight to University. My parents both worked. My dad was a civil engineer and my mum was a librarian and they were very supportive of me through all my school years, they certainly didn’t give me a lot of help with my homework.
The first job that I got was straight from University. It’s quite interesting because I didn’t really want to get a job straight out of University; I really wanted to go travelling. My parents had paid for me to go to University and my dad was pretty keen on me getting a job so that they didn’t have to financially support me any longer. So I did a deal with him I said look I’ll apply for jobs while I’m at University but if I don’t get one by the time I finish then I’m going to go travelling and I’ll start again when I get back.
The very last job that I applied for I was offered that job so the deal is done with my dad I had to accept that and that was working for Boots the Chemist and it was fantastic. It was a great company to work for. They gave me great training, they were very patient with me because of course I knew absolutely nothing about what it was that I was doing and I joined the HR team and it really provided me with a very firm foundation for what was to come in the rest of my career. So each one of my moves in the early part of my career I was trying to look for something different so moving from Boots into Financial Services that was different. Then moving from financial services into professional services, again that was different, into a partnership, a very different type of organisation again with a different culture. Then the Freshfields job came along at just the right time, just when I was looking for something that gave me more of that international experience. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from some of the bosses that I’ve worked for. I think all the way back to my very first boss, I have to say she was a fantastic influence over me and really helped me learn about what it took to be successful in the world of work and some really basic disciplines about what it takes to be successful. I’m a northerner, I like it in the north and for quite a long time I was quite resistant from having to make my way down to London. But largely what’s motivated me through most of my career and what’s been important to me is am I doing something that I think is meaningful for the organisation that I’m working in, is it making a difference.
Certainly there are always challenges in trying to combine two careers and a family, certainly when my kids were younger, my wife was also working and juggling two careers, both committed to our work with looking after the kids, and I think that that’s one of the important things about work life balance. It’s a very personal thing. What would be right for me isn’t right for somebody else, each of us have to make our own choices.