Neil Hayward

On the morning of this interview, activists were burrowing beneath Euston Station to disrupt the progress of HS2, typifying what has been the narrative of every stage of this massive project. HS2 has been and will continue to be marked by continuous scrutiny and controversy and many would say that being held to account is only right, because that balance of sustainable progress and environmental impact seems so precarious.

HS2 is the ultimate test for an HR Director.  The constant scrutiny and epic sale is the peak of human endeavour.


On the morning of this interview, activists were burrowing beneath Euston Station to disrupt the progress of HS2, typifying what has been the narrative of every stage of this massive project. HS2 has been and will continue to be marked by continuous scrutiny and controversy and many would say that being held to account is only right, because that balance of sustainable progress and environmental impact seems so precarious.


I come from a working class family, having been born and brought up in the Medway towns in Kent. My parents encouraged my brother – I am an identical twin – to take education seriously and we both passed the Eleven plus exam and went to a local boys’ grammar school in Rochester. After ‘A’ levels, I went to Oxford University (having passed their entrance exam) where I read Modern History. We were the first from our wider family to get into university or indeed to take ‘A’ Levels. My Mum and Dad expected a lot from my going to Oxford and I wanted to do well and to make my way upwards in the world too. My university education was paid for and I was on a full grant. I’m not certain I would have gone to university without that support. People from my background just didn’t then. My degree choice was based on my love of a subject. But, whilst at university I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. My first thought was to train to be a lawyer – barrister was the aim, but since that would have meant further study and I didn’t have the resources to finance this – or as I then perceived it, the social background either – I opted instead to find a good entry level graduate job thinking that I might qualify as a lawyer later on. I was accepted into the Midland Bank initially as a Banking Graduate Trainee and then – after much pushing on my part – onto their Personnel Graduate Trainee scheme as I was interested in the legal elements. I thought that working in Personnel might lead me back to the law once I had finished my own professional Personnel qualifications and saved some money to do legal qualifications.

So, I cannot, hand on heart, tell you that HR was my calling right from the outset and I rather stumbled into it as a profession, but I knew immediately that I absolutely loved being in business and that I really liked having to prove myself in a profession about which I knew little. I gained a lot of experience quickly in various assignments during my first year and the more I learned about HR the more I liked it. My first mentor was Mike Moss, who ran Performance and Reward and Employee Relations for the bank in the UK. Mike was passionate about the bank as a ‘lifer’, but cared even more about treating people properly and I can still remember him saying to me; “This bank is only as good as the people that we have. Our job in HR is to help leaders and managers motivate as many of them as possible to give us their very best work most days”. That really struck home with me and indeed it still does. I finally made up my mind whilst working for Mike that HR would be my chosen career path.

I passed the one-year Personnel Graduate Trainee scheme – not everyone did – and over the next three years, I was appointed Personnel Manager in the bank’s UK Financial Services business. Looking back, I wonder why they entrusted this role to someone in his early twenties, but I was quite fearless then and – with the confidence of youth – I just assumed I could do it. I do remember though how generous my senior colleagues were to me and how vested they were in helping me succeed. This has stayed with me all my career – you have an obligation and commitment to look after the people coming up behind you. I remember feeling so well supported and optimistic back then. My generation – in the late 1980s and early 1990s – also started work in a boom period for the economy and, with the innocence, along with some of the arrogance of youth, we were able to prove how smart – or otherwise – we were. It is much harder for those in higher education trying to move into the world of work now and the pandemic has only compounded this problem. I think it’s up to all of us as employers to create as many opportunities for young people as we can. Our faith and trust in the next generations will be fully repaid.


With my HR professional qualifications obtained, I wanted to broaden my horizons and work in a different sector and gain some international experience. I joined a company called MultiServ International Ltd as HR Manager, which was a business providing support services into heavy industry (predominantly steel and aluminium) in the UK and Europe. The company was run by a management team, who had completed an MBO, along with US private equity. It was growing fast and was expected to keep doing so. This was a small business compared to the bank and I lost the safety net of a big employer. Despite having no previous international experience, my job was to support this expansion overseas. I had to work out what it would cost to hire local people and how, then include this information in bids for new contract work and, if we were successful in getting that work, go back to that country and help hire the people needed to do the job and prove my earlier work right or wrong. In those days, with only land line or fax telecommunications, you were trusted on the ground to make these decisions. I loved the sense of freedom and responsibility this job gave me. I was having a direct impact on the business itself and it was a great proving ground.

Why did they hire me when on the face of it I lacked relevant experience? I put it down to the quality of my research and preparation into the sector and their business ahead of my interview. I came very well prepared and showed them that I was willing to learn, knew my shortcomings and that I would work very hard to close any gaps. I have done the same since with every job I’ve had. I think you do have to work hard for success and put some effort in. A few years after starting, Multiserv was acquired by the Harsco Corporation. from the United States, as their first overseas acquisition. Most of the MBO management team left and Harsco merged Multiserv with one of their other business divisions doing similar work to form Heckett MultiServ. I was promoted to become HR Director of this new company which by then was turning over c$500m per annum and employed c5,000 people in c22 countries. So, there I was, in my late 20s and HR Director of a division of a Fortune 1000 company. I ended up working in all sorts of places; Slovakia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China, to name but five. If ever there was a job to build personal and professional resilience based on ‘in at the deep end’ this was it. When I look back, I was extraordinarily lucky to be given this opportunity, but I made the best of it. I had gone from the cloistered surety of Oxford University to the Ural Mountains and working at the Magnitogorsk Steel Mill – in less than a decade.


There were two things really. Firstly, I worked incredibly hard and took every opportunity to learn about the business I was in. I really got underneath the surface of it and I was driven and very focused. I became as passionate and knowledgeable about how we made money as my other more experienced senior colleagues on the leadership team did. This was a basic business. It didn’t have any room or time for HR work for the sake of it. What I was working on had to help the business either grow sales, improve margins, or cut costs and do it quickly, or else it had no value to my colleagues at all. That kept me honest. Too many HR Directors think their job is to run HR, when in fact our job is to be part of the team running the business and to do what it takes to make the business a success for the owners. Secondly, great guidance and mentorship – in particular I remember my boss Geoff Butler, who was President of Heckett MultiServ, saying: “I’m not interested in whether you’ve made mistakes, I only want to know what you’ve learned from them”. He appointed me and gave me air cover when I messed up (because I did frequently) and any tongue lashings he gave me were always conducted behind closed doors and never in public. Geoff went on to have a very successful career himself, joining the Main Board of Harsco, which is a very rare achievement for a Brit in a US business. I owe him a lot. Whenever I found myself in a fix, I also always managed to find someone who was willing to help me out. I made a very conscious effort to engage with a large network of much more experienced HR Director peers and that took a lot more effort in the days before social media and LinkedIn than it would do nowadays. Helping others on the way up is something I do a lot more of now too. I really enjoy mentoring other younger C-suite talents and I am part of the CIPD HRD mentoring scheme for this reason.

HR can be a profession that is a bit self-obsessed, constantly purging itself with the same existential questions. But, to my mind, the best HR Directors today are doing much the same things the best ones thirty years ago did: They concentrate on what gives their business an edge over competitors and they create people and organisation strategies to deliver that edge; they spot opportunities, understand the principles of added value and time to market, conduct commercial negotiations and recognise the consequences of missed targets. They also ensure that thinking about the capability and capacity the business needs to succeed, is at the heart of the business strategy and that this is a focus of their business meetings. The big problem is though that there still aren’t enough HR Directors doing this. If anything, I think the HR profession is today weaker overall, less impactful and more focused on itself than it used to be. In the old days, people moved in and out of HR after careers in other functions. Now, we train people to be HR professionals from the outset, but this education and training often lacks sufficient business content or context and it can’t all be learnt on the job. I was very lucky that my early years at work forced me to be different. I took risks by putting myself into the firing line and that paid off. I put a commercial hat on from the outset and never took it off. That’s the foundation of my working life and why I think I got on. Business first and HR second is what I do. I often advise HR professionals to look to join small companies, that are growing quickly, if they want real world experiences that will help them accelerate their careers. You have more responsibility more quickly and it’s also obvious if you’re making a difference or not. There’s no hiding place. HR fads and fashions don’t work in these situations, only what improves the performance of the business works.


This is a big topic and I think we might be on the cusp of the most exciting period at work for ages. Because the one thing the pandemic has taught us is that our old assumptions about how and where we want people to work for us in future are just that, old assumptions. Those employers that adapt quickly – in the year ahead – to hybrid working and strike the right balance between their needs as an employer and those of their employees for flex working will win the future battle to attract and retain staff in labour markets with significant skills shortages. But, the lens for HR practitioners must be on arriving at solutions that make their businesses as productive as possible. What other companies are doing should inform our choices of course, but we’ve each got to decide what our own business needs to do to win in future in a very different business world. I can remember introducing a flexible working approach when I was working at Serco in 1999. It was inclusive, covered everyone, wasn’t just a gender issue and wasn’t tokenism of any kind and it worked, although it was highly unusual then. Now, it’s going to be the new normal. The next phase of the pandemic response will test us on how good we are at helping our companies navigate uncertainty and bring about change. The response to the pandemic is already sorting out the wheat from the chaff.


Agreed, I was at Serco between 1999 and 2004 and in that time, the company expanded from about £750 million pa turnover to about £2 billion pa turnover and as Group HR and Change Director I oversaw the TUPE transfer of c28,000 people in the UK market alone. I didn’t take over this job from a predecessor, I started with a blank sheet of paper and had to decide what would make the most difference to the performance of the company. Most people who worked for Serco didn’t start out with the organisation, or even agree to join us for themselves, but joined when we won a bid to take over from the organisation that had previously employed them. So, from an HR perspective right at onboarding we were dealing with a wide diversity of people who had often experienced a myriad of bad practices and bad treatments from past employers and our job was to put that right. Our front-line workers were Serco. If they didn’t feel supported and invested in and motivated and skilled to do their jobs, then we didn’t have a business model. Companies that adopted this same attitude during the pandemic will, I am sure, recover quicker than those that demonstrated that when push came to shove with their people, they preferred shove.

Two things particularly enabled Serco to thrive and the HR function was at the heart of creating both. Firstly, our approach to Industrial Relations was exemplary. We embraced TUPE and signed national recognition agreements in the UK with twelve trade unions. Trade unions were opposed in principle to outsourcing public sector jobs into the private sector but accepted that if this was going to happen it was better for a company like Serco to win this work as we were committed not to pursue a race to the bottom on terms and conditions of employment. This was important with a Labour Government in office and it gave the company a commercial advantage over rivals with a different viewpoint. This approach sparked growth. Secondly, we established a values-based culture and trained our leaders at all levels to look after people properly and to see this as their primary purpose. One of the proudest days of my professional life was seeing this work recognised when Serco was voted one of the most admired employers in the country in the annual Management Today survey in 2004. This approach, which put continuous improvement to the forefront, kept our costs under control and helped us improve margins too.

Serco also lived up to my own expectations in terms of professional development. Kevin Beeston’s philosophy as CEO (and my boss) was to try and give people an opportunity to show what they could do and to back them to do it with his own energy and creativity included if needed. Kevin saw it as his job to help his team succeed, because if they did then so would he and so would the company. He asked me to act as a Strategic Bid Advisor for the Mersey Rail and Northern Rail TOC bids in the UK and was thrilled when we won both bids (at the time Serco’s largest ever contract wins). He said to me: “You can play the Beeston joker whenever you want and I will dive in to help you, but I’m also judging you on how often and when you need to”. Kevin was there for me as a backstop whilst encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and make tough choices for myself. He’s the best boss I ever had. He’s still someone that I talk to and seek advice from. When I look back on my time at Serco, I am astonished by how young we mostly were as a Global Management Board (in our mid to late 30s)and just how hard we worked for the success that came our way. Serco was like a boom town with massive international expansion as well as UK growth. Personally, it was exhilarating and stretching, more so than any other time in my career, today’s role at HS2 included. It was an incredible experience, entrepreneurial, creative, very different and hectic. It was a career pinnacle.


I made a mistake. I was approached about the opportunity to join Gallaher, the tobacco giant and FTSE 50 company and I was swayed both by that status and the financial rewards on offer. I had been governed by the notion that I should ‘keep climbing’ right from my very earliest family and school days and in seeing this as a potential career high, this was where that perspective finally and I think deservedly, caught up with me. There was nothing wrong with the job on paper. Gallaher had just acquired two very large companies; one in Europe and the other based in Russia, to gain scale, to try to remain independent and to keep predators at bay as the industry was rapidly consolidating. So, the challenge for me as the Group HR Director was to support the CEO and CFO, in creating an integration plan. The scale was astonishing, with a turnover of £5.5 billion per annum. Arguments will rightly rage about morals, but this was a very profitable business and there was an opportunity to make it even more so and, over the next three years, we did indeed define and deliver a global change and transformation program, create a more unified identity (leadership framework, values, brand, culture) as well as taking significant costs out of the organisation. This culminated in Gallaher accepting a bid from Japan Tobacco in early 2007 that produced a significant return for shareholders based on the last three years of transformation. However, it says something about the sector and company that I was amongst the first ever to be hired from outside of the tobacco industry onto the Executive Team and I found this insularity hard to deal with. I never felt truly accepted into the business and, although I think I made a difference, these were relative hard yards and I didn’t really enjoy myself at work for the first time. When Gallaher was acquired by Japan Tobacco I found myself out of work but cushioned by a large financial settlement and that allowed me to take stock and to think about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my professional life. ‘Keep Climbing’ had run its course.


My experience of working in tobacco certainly made me start to think a lot more about the purpose of organisational life and the things that motivated me personally. I realised that I had probably been a classic example of an over-achiever, driven by bettering the last result with the next appointment with this drive rooted in my childhood and upbringing. I didn’t want to carry on being like that and repeating the (relative) mistake of my Gallaher experience. I had reached the top, against the definition I had given it, but it hadn’t made me happy. So, I defined a different list of things, that give me energy and satisfaction from work and I have broadly used this list to guide me ever since: I like working for businesses that need transformation; that I can believe in; where I am able to work for a good boss and in a good team and where there is an opportunity to make a real difference personally and to enjoy myself and learn something as I do so. I am at my best when I am challenged to think and make something happen quickly. I am not a ‘steady state’ HR Director. You hire me to shake things up and to bring about change. Each job for me is an assignment with a beginning, middle and an end and I don’t like repeating experiences. Nowhere in this list does it say I have to run the HR function and be a number one and nor does it say I will only work in permanent roles. So, for the last fifteen years or so, I have been liberated from the earlier straight-jacket that I had created for myself. I have accepted different types of assignments and judged each against my own criteria and worried much less about what the rest of the world thinks. This has given me a very interesting last third to my career and enabled me to deal with the snakes and ladders of corporate life more on my own terms. You win some and you lose some.


After Gallaher I took two jobs in a row that met my criteria. At Standard Chartered Bank I joined to support the recently appointed Group HR Director, Tracy Clarke, who came into the job from front line roles in the bank. My job was to run the HR centres of expertise globally and, with other members of the HR leadership team, define and implement an HR Transformation plan to improve the performance of the HR function globally. I was able to advise Tracy on HR from a broader perspective, from outside of financial services, whilst being able to draw upon her vast knowledge of the business and her contacts to make quicker progress myself. It was a great partnership. Tracy had extraordinary energy, creativity and drive, as well as being great fun to be with and I was in awe of her abilities. Working for a good boss is so rewarding. Over three years working together, we were able to put the HR function onto a much better footing. I then resigned to join the Ministry of Justice, as Group HR Director, at a most interesting time, post the banking crash and MP expenses scandal and with big questions hanging over many aspects of the public sector. My Serco experience – transferring public sector workers into private sector ownership and trying to make it work differently – came to the fore. Remember the headline “there’s no money left”? For years, all civil servants had to do was prove that they had spent the money allocated to them and the Spending Review (2010) was brought in to change this. The task ahead was to cut costs in the Ministry of Justice significantly over the five-year period of that spending review.

This was a huge department, with 75,000 staff and an annual budget of c£9 billion. There were more than a thousand HR people across all the Ministry of Justice family of companies and the budget for the HR function overall was c£100 million. There was no beating about the bush, we reduced the headcount of the ministry by about 5,000, reduced the cost of the Group HR function by about 50 percent (saving £18m per annum) and, despite this much depleted HR budget, managed modest gains in staff engagement and reduced sickness and absenteeism. Everything I had experienced and learned previously was channelled into this transformation and I brought essential private sector knowledge that demands innovative HR and communications, into a sector that had previously been very immune to the commercial realities of business life. I was on a three-year fixed-term contract and with this job done, I didn’t push for an extension, it was time to move on.


Well I don’t know about that. All I can say is that once I made the decision to look at my own career very differently, I found it quite liberating and that this has opened new possibilities for me rather than closed any doors. Since 2007 I have bounced around between being part of HR teams, running HR functions and operating at Executive and Board levels too, most recently via a number of Non-Executive appointments which is where I hope my future lies when I’m finished with full time corporate life. I’ve enjoyed enormous variety in my career since 2007. Coming to work to make a difference and enjoy myself is a much better mindset for me than my previous mindset which was all about reaching the top. Feedback also suggests that I’ve become a better, less selfish, more emotionally engaged and intuitive leader too since then. I’ve relaxed a bit and don’t take myself quite so seriously and I am all the better for it.

Next, I took the job as Group People Director at the Post Office in 2014, working for Paula Vennells the CEO and with responsibility for HR, Corporate Affairs, Network Strategy and Network Development, this was on the back of my public sector transformation work at the Ministry of Justice and my industrial relations experience from a relatively short lived assignment at BT plc. When a role is described as “needing to shake things up”, you know you’re in for an interesting time. The Post Office had not been included in the privatisation of the Royal Mail in 2012 because it was losing a lot of money and would have diluted the sale proceeds expected from this privatisation and there was political opposition to privatising it too. The business I joined had therefore been left behind in public ownership and was losing £124 million on c£1 billion per annum turnover despite receiving Government revenue subsidy of c£200 million. The task set was to remove the losses even as ongoing Government subsidy was withdrawn though we were given significant capital investment to improve the 11,500 strong branch network (11,000 of which were franchises run by Sub Postmasters rather than directly run by Post Office itself). So, I joined an organisation that was in a struggle to survive. It needed a complete turnaround. It was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my career, some three years, all of it hard-yards cost cutting in a significantly unionised business. We reduced directly employed staff costs by £85 million pa, changed the nature of the contracts that the franchise holders in the franchise network had, which saved about £70 or £80 million and invested in new products and services and digital. I left at the point that the business broke even – again job done from my perspective – and since then profits have continued to grow based on this reset. The Post Office network has now freed itself of the obligation to act only as the Royal Mail’s channel for parcels and it’s now available to operate as a parcel distributor for anybody in the marketplace. That is huge because you’ve got a nationwide network of nearly 11,500 branches across the country to act as parcel deposit places.


After I left the Post Office, I set up my own management consulting business and that was starting to build up quite nicely, so I wasn’t initially certain that I wanted another full-time corporate job when HS2 came calling. But, the more I looked at the HS2 opportunity, the more excited I became about it. Joining was a ‘no brainer’ if like me you run towards rather than shy away from large scale business transformation opportunities. It certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted. I was though attracted to the purpose and potential of HS2 and thought I could help solve the problems. This is the largest infrastructure project the UK has ever seen by some distance. The project has a hugely compelling purpose. It is a truly national endeavour and I wanted to help it succeed. The scale of HS2 is vast. Phase 1 alone (London to Birmingham) has an estimated cost range between £35-45 billion. Phase 2A (Birmingham to Crewe) has a range between £5-7 billion and the Parliamentary Bill for the western leg of Phase 2B (Crewe to Manchester) is now in development. Already c17,000 people are employed by HS2 and its contractors and at peak construction around 30,000 jobs will be supported by the project. Once I understood the size, scale and significance of the project I had to get involved and so I joined CEO Mark Thurston’s team. As HR Director, I was his first external senior hire back in 2017and the task we set ourselves was to create an organisation that could be trusted by the Government and other stakeholders to spend billions of pounds a year to deliver something bigger than had ever been done before in the UK. Here was a professional test for any HR Director; to build an organisation with the capability and capacity required to do something without precedent, in the full glare of the public spotlight. I am now three and half years into my time at HS2 and I am very grateful for the opportunity it has given me. We’ve achieved a lot as a team. I will almost certainly finish my full-time career here and it’s been just brilliant to have such challenging work to do after 35 years in harness.


Controversy and divided opinion are inevitable with projects like this but I believe that HS2 is economic regeneration, it is connectivity, it is capacity and in the long term, it is part of the green future that we are all working towards. So, I hope the country now gets behind us. Protests like Euston Square are a threat to the safety and security of HS2’s workers and the public, as well as to the protestors themselves. HS2 takes the environmental cost of construction very seriously which is why we are also planting more than seven million new trees and shrubs between London and Birmingham alone. Whilst there are 52,000 ancient woodland sites in the UK, just 43 will be affected by HS2’s route between London and Crewe and over 80 percent of the total area of these 43 ancient woodlands will remain intact and untouched by HS2 during construction. On Phase 1 of the route, 32 ancient woodlands are affected, but in 19 of these the total area of loss is less than 1 hectare each. What the environmental protests do show is that HS2 remains a project that is controversial in some eyes and that we will always be in the spotlight right up and until the first trains start running towards the end of the decade. We accept that. Since we are spending public money, we also accept that we should always be scrutinised very carefully on this too.

The Government conducted the comprehensive Oakervee Review in 2019 and the Major Projects Review Group, Cabinet Office and Treasury subsequently all assured themselves that HS2 had the capability and capacity needed to be given the go ahead to start building Phase 1. After ten years of development and preparatory work, the Prime Minister therefore announced this in April 2020 and it is this formal ‘Notice to Proceed’ that has now started unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the UK. That milestone represented a culmination of my first two and a half years at HS2. I had helped Mark Thurston as CEO make significant improvements to the company across governance and controls, as well as to the levels of talent and skill needed to develop a rigorous cost and schedule estimate for the project. Together with other Executive colleagues, we put a completely different organisation in place, one that enables us to act as a successful client organisation to our supply chain with whom we’ve now placed commercial contracts worth billions of pounds. We have also started planning for future transition points in the project’s lifecycle beyond 2021, where our capability and capacity will need to shift again. Change inside HS2 is a constant. There’s no steady state, it is about continuous improvement. The competency of HS2 Ltd was further assured by an Independent Assurance Panel in late 2019/early 2020. This panel said that HS2 had the most rigorous approach to testing and improving organisational capability that they had ever seen in a major project. Now there’s no turning back. That’s a real contrast to where we were back in 2017. I am proud of that contrast.


Yes, it has felt like the culmination of all my previous work around designing and managing transformation and change – with a commercial outlook – coming together into one place. That’s why I wanted the job as HR Director for HS2. I liken HS2 to how the Channel Tunnel was pilloried in the press in the 1970s or how the London Olympics was initially ridiculed by the public when the bid was won in the early 2000s and yet the former has been an essential link to Europe for more than three decades now and the latter is seen as a truly golden moment in our country’s recent history and was the source of lots of national identity and pride. I think HS2 will end up in the same way once it opens. We now have unstoppable momentum.


Health and Safety is at the heart of everything we do at HS2. Safety is one of our values and we are governed by our ‘Safe at Heart’ working practices. We have an excellent Health Safety and Wellbeing team in place and so too do all our suppliers. There’s no right or wrong answer in a pandemic. Listening, learning, adapting and responding is key. But we are all proud of how we’ve kept work going on safely at more than 250 sites across the UK now for more than 16 months and against the most rigorous of standards. Our construction partners have all shown tremendous resilience in ensuring that construction works have been able to continue, whilst introducing innovative practices to ensure COVID compliance. For example, at our Old Oak common station site, our main works contractor, the Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture introduced the use of the PLINX proximity alarm which stops workers getting too close to one another and ensures social distancing is maintained. PLINX was designed by a small company of three based in Malvern so we’ve been able to support a fantastic small business within our supply chain as well as using innovative practices to ensure safe working. There are many other such examples of learning from experience and sharing this across our supply chain. The same will apply to the post-COVID transitionary period. We have put care for our people front and centre at HS2. Our November 2020 staff engagement survey (on the back on five wellbeing ‘pulse’ checks during the pandemic focused on health and wellbeing) showed that our staff were much more engaged than two years ago; 76 percent v 57 percent (+19 percent) on a turnout of 82 percent (+4 percent) which by any standards is an impressive result. We are now amongst the most inclusive employers in the UK, being the first ever to achieve Clear Assured Platinum status using this external benchmark. This means thinking about inclusion is built in not bolted onto how we manage our people. EDI is increasingly in the DNA of HS2 Ltd and our workforce composition is breaking the norms usually seen in both construction and rail (we are 38 percent female/23 percent BAME).


I’ve built a much stronger HR function over the last three and a half years and I am very proud of them. This year we will be focusing on the next stages of the project and making sure that both HS2 and our supply chain across Phase 1 maintain the capability and capacity needed to achieve further challenging schedule and cost milestones. We will also be defining and tackling the organisational implications of moving Phase 2A into construction and creating the organisation that will oversee the redevelopment of Euston station, as well as supporting the team producing the legislation that will hopefully frame the Government’s requirements for Phase 2B. Reflecting on the last 35 years, I’m glad I didn’t become a lawyer. Being a businessman and HR professional combined has been much more fun. I’ve loved getting things done and helping companies to succeed and I’m glad I changed my own starting outlook on success too as I went along. That’s contributed to my longevity doing something that I love and it stopped me burning out. You’re remembered for who you are, not just what you did. It’s been quite a journey since 1986.

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27 November 2023


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