was born and educated in Manchester but now live near London because of my career. I’ve been in a senior management position for more than 20 years, working across various sectors including high street retail, telecoms and software. I’ve always worked in fast paced environments and with organisations undertaking transformation and change including M&A activity. Before joining Jardine Motors Group, I was Global HR Director for eFront, a niche global software provider and prior to this, I worked at Home Retail Group supporting the Argos commercial division with their digital retailer journey.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I’ve always wanted to work at board level but never really set out to be HR director. I have set goals around how I can make a difference within a business; that’s always been my ambition while working towards a position at board level. I didn’t think about a specific sector I wanted to work in and actually I think that moving between industries gives you more rounded skills. My approach has been to capitalise on the opportunities given and keep learning. My career was accelerated by taking a post graduate degree in Human Resource Management; it really helped shape a lot of the decisions I make in the workplace.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
The main challenge has been perception based, and that’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about breaking down barriers within the automotive industry and encouraging greater diversity in our workplace. As a young female starting out in my career I was regularly judged on my appearance, even being referenced as a secretary to a male colleague at an event once when in fact I was his boss! I’ve learnt how to deal with these scenarios in the right way and the best lesson I have learnt from being in a male-dominated industry is to never feel the need to emulate the characteristics of a male boss.
On a typical workday, how does you start your day and how does it end?
I spend a lot of my time out and about in the retailer network as well as networking with organisations in our industry and those that champion workplace diversification like the 30% Club, which is an alliance of progressive Presidents, CEOs and MDs from automotive manufacturers, retailers and supplier organisations, who are working towards the aspirational aim of filling 30% of key leadership positions in their organisations with women by 2030 in a “30 by 30” strategy. So I spend a fair bit of time driving, which is why being organised is vital for me. I start my day planning for the day ahead and then at the end of the day I take the time to review and take stock of what I have achieved and reflect on what I could have done better as a leader. Whether you’re driving, on a train or on a flight commuting, reflecting on what type of leader and what you could have done better are a great mantra.
Tell us a little bit about your role and how did that come about?
In my role as Group HR director for Jardine Motors Group I am ultimately responsible for the success of our 3,500 colleagues, I lead a team that delivers the business’ recruitment, talent management, learning & development programmes, and succession planning throughout our retailer network. We’re a really busy team with lots of schemes being launched at the moment to bring in more apprentices and those from outside the industry. In addition, as a member of the board I work with colleagues across commercial, marketing and finance to deliver on our ambitious business plans. It’s a really varied job as we have more than 75 dealerships operating in 24 brands including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, VW, Toyota, Audi and Masserati, so we have to ensure that staff are meeting both the manufacturers’ standards as well as our own. The job came about because I was approached for the position by a headhunting agency.
Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?
I was really fortunate to have a great mentor when I started by career. He saw the potential in me and gave me loads of opportunities to challenge myself and really push forward my skills, as well as funding my post graduate in Human Resource Management. I really believe that it’s the role of a leader to help inspire and mentor their team and this is why we invest a lot in training and development at Jardine Motor Group to nurture talent, ensure people remain passionate about what they do, and bring out the best in everyone.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Don’t feel you have to apologise for being a woman. We should acknowledge, even celebrate the fact that women can have a different approach and perspective to male colleagues and I would say to every employer, don’t judge someone based on their gender, but instead on what they achieve.
If you were to look back in five years, what would you see in terms of your achievements?
As I’m passionate about creating greater diversity in the team I would really like to achieve the target of 30% of management being women within our group. However, it has to be about the right person in a role. Meeting this target should not be seen as a box ticking exercise. Women should be given management positions based on merit but there is more than can be done to open up the opportunities to make it a level playing field. Also I would have liked to have made a difference in how the motor industry is perceived.
Tell us about your plans for the future?
Our business ambition is to be the best motor retailer as judged by our customers, partners and colleagues. As part of this mission we need to attract talented people who may not have considered a career within the automotive industry before. So our future plans are focused around raising awareness of the great opportunities our industry offers for all, educating people about the diverse roles available across customer service, finance, marketing, HR and legal and introducing new employee schemes that will help address some of the perception issues we face.