At Finito World, we’re all about trying to untangle the many pathways one can take to success. The top-level Human Resources officers profiled here represent a broad spectrum of career paths and approaches to the professional world. Some are highly educated, with Doctorates in their fields and myriad other academic honours, while others left school with their eyes set straight on the working world. Many are Fellows at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which is a Wimbledon-based accrediting body widely accepted within the HR field.
We’ve chosen these professionals to profile based on the size and relevance of the companies which they are a part of. Most are in charge of HR for companies which are high up on the FTSE 100 list. The others provide HR to large, international, publicly traded companies, many of which are household names.
Unlike our list of the top 50 cities for business around the world, these profiles are in no particular order. The purpose of this piece is not to make value judgements about these professionals’ careers and practices, but rather to display the variety which can be found among HR heads in the vast world of business.
These brief profiles are not long enough to encapsulate the spirit, personality, and beliefs of each individual person, but a lot can be gleaned from their CVs and public statements about their priorities as professionals. Where possible, we have also included contact information for these HR officers in case you would like to get in touch. The people listed here represent many years of collective experience in the world of HR and beyond, so anyone interested in navigating the corporate world should pay close attention to the lessons that these stories of success can teach.
Jeff Pott has been General Counsel for since 2009, receiving the added responsibilities of Chief Human Resources Officer at the beginning of 2021. He has years of experience with pharmaceutical law, working with Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP for five years, as well as serving as Chairman at Aptium Oncology in California. Pott earned his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College in Illinois before moving on to his graduate studies, graduating from Villanova University School of Law.
Leena Nair joined Unilever in 1992 as a management trainee, before being appointed as Chief Human Resources Officer in 2016. She is the youngest ever CHRO of Unilever, as well as being the first woman and first Asian person to occupy the role. She frequently talks about building “a more human business”, and frequently voices her opinions on the world of work. In an interview with Time magazine, she shared her belief that work must be “reinvented” following the pandemic, endorsing a four-day work week and flexible working models. She studied at the Walchand College of Engineering before graduating from the Xavier School of Management.
Mairéad Nayager has been with the alcohol brand Diageo for fifteen years. She has said that she “doesn’t have a ten-year plan”, preferring to be open to “new opportunities and new possibilities”. Nayager was recognised for her work as an advocate for women and minorities in the workplace in 2021, when she made the Empower 100 Ethnic Minority Role Model list. She says that her daughter is her biggest achievement, and she focuses on work-life balance and the importance of family. She received her undergraduate degree from Trinity College in Dublin in 1997, then continued her studies earning diplomas in Employment Law, Education, and Business.
Elaine Arden has been Group Chief Human Resources Officer at HSBC since 2017. She has 25 years of experience in financial services, working as Group Human Resources Director at RBS and Head of Employee Relations at Clydesdale Bank. She is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Banking in Scotland. In terms of education, she graduated from Strathclyde University and got her start in banking by joining a graduate programme through RBS in 1990.
Diana Conrad has worked in Human Resources for 34 years and became Chief Human Resources Officer at GSK in 2019. With experience at GE, Gennum Corporation, and Zenon Environmental Laboratories, she began working for GSK as Director of Human Resources in 2000. For the last 21 years, Conrad has risen the ranks to CHRO, relocating from Ontario to London in the process. She earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University in Canada.
Kerry Dryburgh has worked in HR with BP for over 11 years. Before she became Chief People Officer at BP, she was HR Director of Honeywell Security and Vice President of HR at BT Ignite. She had what she describes as an unconventional start, beginning an apprenticeship at an insurance company and continuing through her 20s until realising that she wanted to have a career in HR. She holds an MBA from Henley Business School.
Ronan Cassidy joined Shell shortly after graduating from Oxford University with a BA in Modern History. For the last 33 years, he has held a variety of HR roles at the company and its associated Downstream and Upstream International, working his way up to Chief HR and Corporate Officer. He is currently based in the Netherlands.
James Martin began his career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. He then became a partner at the management consulting company Egon Zehnder where he stayed for 15 years. He has also held senior equity research roles at the banking companies Credit Suisse First Boston and ABN AMRO. He is a relatively new hire for the Rio Tinto mining group, joining the team in April 2021.
Sanzid Ahmed began his career with BAT in 2002, after graduating from the University of Dhaka with a BA in Business Administration. He first worked as a Territory Officer, then as a Graduate Management Trainee in Bangladesh before moving into HR. He rose through the ranks working in South Asia, Asia Pacific, and Australia, before becoming Group Head of HR for the company in 2019. During his time as Area Head of HR for South Asia, Ahmed earned a postgraduate degree from the University of Liverpool in Global Human Resource Management.
Derrick Crowley became Head of Group HR for the commodity trading and mining company Glencore in 2019. Before that, he held senior HR roles at media companies in a variety of locations, including News Corp Australia, News UK, and News International. Before that, he worked in consulting as a director for Deloitte and Senior Manager for Arthur Andersen Business Consulting. He graduated from Dublin City University with a Bachelor’s in Business Studies in 1995.
Rhys Jefferies began her career in Human Relations with the mining company BHP 14 years ago, when she lived in Western Australia. She has held a variety of top-level HR positions in the company, moving from Australia to Canada, then back to Australia with a two-year stint in Houston, Texas in between. She was given the role of Global Head of HR Services in December of 2020, in which she manages teams around the world. Before BHP, Jefferies worked as a Recruitment Consultant for Hays and Area Supervisor for Programmed Skilled Workforce, both in Australia. She holds a Bachelor’s in Human Resources and Management from Edith Cowen University and obtained a graduate certificate from Rice University in Finance and Accounting.
Rashelle Cejo has been the Vice President of Human Resources for the data and analytics company RELX’s large centre in the Philippines since December of 2018. She describes herself as an HR Director focused on “talent attraction, reward, employee relations, engagement, corporate communications and talent development”, adding that her “passion for Rule of Law” keeps her interested in the legal, medical, and academic communities she works in. She was the company’s first Filipino hire in 2010, previously working in the legal, medical, and financial fields. She holds a Bachelor’s in Law from the University of Santo Tomas.
Apoorva Chandra worked in HR for 13 years before taking on the role of Global Chief Human Resources Officer for the insurance company Prudential. Before joining Prudential in 2010, Chandra was Senior HR Manager for Johnson and Johnson between 2007 and 2009. Prior to that, he held Consultant positions at PwC and Willis Towers Watson. He is a Chartered Fellow with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Ranjay Radhakrishnan has held roles in HR since 1993, starting his career as a Management Trainee at Unilever. After rising the ranks to Executive Vice President Global HR during his 23-year career with Unilever, he left for a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role at InterContinental Hotels Group. Now, as CHRO for the health, nutrition, and hygiene company Reckitt, he says that his priority is to, “ensure that global talent, organisation, and culture come together” to unlock “the true potential of people, performance, and purpose.” Radhakrishnan holds a Bachelor’s in Commerce from HR College Mumbai University, and an M.A. in HR Management and Personnel Administration.
Joanne Roberts has been the Global Head of HR for the London Stock Exchange Group for 13 years. She has worked in HR since 1992, holding a variety of roles at Marks and Spencer, Rocco Forte Hotels, William Hill, and Signet Trading, before becoming Senior HR Business Partner of Total Gas & Power in 2004. At Total Gas & Power, she created a Graduate Recruitment Scheme while managing a team of 4. Now, she is responsible for success in HR at LSEG worldwide. She holds a Bachelor’s in Business from the University of East London and a Professional Qualification from the CIPD.
Bentley de Beyer became Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs in February of 2020, following a 16-year career in HR with Johnson & Johnson, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Capital, Qantas Airline, and Mercer. His first role after graduating university was as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, where he would later return. De Beyer says that he is passionate about HR because “it is multi-disciplinary, based on deep insights on what motivates people to deliver high performance, and is fundamental to successfully delivering the strategy of any business.” He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney and a Master of Philosophy from Cambridge.
Prerana Issar became Chief People Officer at the NHS in April of 2019. Unusually, she is the first person to fill the role. She acted quickly, developing the NHS People Plan which looks at workplace culture and how best to support staff in her first few months as Chief People Officer. Before the NHS, Issar held senior HR roles at the World Food Programme and Unilever, and a Director role at the United Nations Food Programme. Her commitment to public service comes from her parents, who took a similar path working in public service for the Indian government. She earned an Honours degree in Psychology, statistics, and organisational behaviour from Delhi University.
Paige Ross took on the role of Global Head of Human Resources at Blackstone after a 25-year career working in HR and talent management. She held roles at Pfizer, PepsiCo, Avon, and Centerbridge Partners before joining Blackrock, which has given her extensive experience in HR for both the consumer-based and financial industries. She attended Hofstra University, where she earned a PhD in Applied Organizational Psychology.
Rebecca Crowther has worked in HR with Transport for London for over 13 years. Her first job after graduating from university was as HR Assistant at West Yorkshire Passenger Transport. When she joined TFL, Crowther oversaw a ten-person HR team. Now, she covers all HR activities leading a team of 126 people. She holds a BA in French and Spanish, as well as an MA and CIPD in Human Resource Management, both from the University of Leeds. She was also a volunteer speaker and mentor for the children’s education charity Inspiring the Future.
Natasha Wojciechowski joined the BBC in 2010 as an HR Business Partner. Over the next eight years, she worked her way through the ranks until 2018 when she was given the role of HR Director. She attended the University of Manchester where she earned a BS in Management Science.
Fiona Cicconi already had 25 years of HR experience under her belt before joining Google as Chief People Officer. Her first major job out of university was at GE, where she held the role of Human Resources Manager for over seven years. She then became the Senior HR Manager for Cisco Systems’ Italian branch, before becoming the Director of Employee Relations there after two years. After that, she moved on to the Swiss healthcare company Roche, holding senior HR positions. She then joined the team at Astrazeneca where she was the Chief Human Resources Officer at AstraZeneca for over six years, before moving to Google. She holds a diploma in International Business Studies from Leeds Metropolitan University.
Lizzie Runham has been with the social media powerhouse Facebook for over three years, working in HR. Before becoming Facebook’s International HR Director, she held senior HR roles at Johnson and Johnson, Standard Chartered Bank, and Barclays. Having worked in the field for 18 years, Runham has worked all over the world providing HR for the finance and healthcare industries. She has an extensive education, holding an MA in History from Cambridge, and undertaking executive education at both Columbia Business School and Stanford University, focusing on Strategic Leadership and Organisation Development.
Robin Leopold has been the Head of Human Resources and Executive Vice President at JP Morgan for nearly four years. She has held senior roles in Human Resources since 1986 and worked for Citi Bank for over 21 years. Leopold has worked in many areas during her long career, including employee relations, recruitment, and compensation. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Psychology and Business Management.
Payal Sahni Becher worked in HR at Pfizer for 23 years before becoming Chief Human Resources Officer in July of 2020. Taking on this role at a critical time for the pharmaceutical company, Becher ensured that her team was able to handle the demands of the pandemic while having to deal with pandemic-related stressors herself. She believes that the pandemic has proved that people are able to effectively work from home, stating that “The pandemic catapulted us into making better use of the digital collaboration tools we were already trying out” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Becher holds a BA in Psychology from Rider University, and an MA in Psychology as well from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Matt Brady has held senior HR roles since 2006, gaining over 12 years of experience before becoming Head of Human Resources at Sky entertainment. He began his career as a Graduate Recruitment Clerk at HSBC, shortly after graduating with honours from the University of Sheffield with a BA in Business Studies. After a two-year stint with the NHS, Brady returned to University while working as HR Adviser for Bright Finance Ltd. He graduated and earned his CIPD qualification and Msc in Human Resource Management from Sheffield Hallam University in 2007, and went on to work in HR at Balfour Beatty plc. After two interim roles, he joined Sky as an HR Business Partner before becoming the Head of HR in 2017.
Deirdre O’Brien has been a part of Apple since 1988 – ten years before now-CEO Tim Cook joined the team. Now, she is Senior Vice President of Retail and People, handling both retail and Human Resources for the company on a massive scale. O’Brien reports directly to Tim Cook, who has said that she has been a key part of “every major Apple launch” since the first stores opened. She earned her undergraduate degree in operations management from Michigan State University, and her MBA from San Jose University.
year career in Human Resources. She provided Human Resources for the drink producer Diageo for 15 years, before moving on to senior roles at Burberry, the Go-Ahead Group, and the Sutton Trust. Her years of experience were built on a high-quality education; she earned her MA in Law and Economics from the University of Cambridge and her MBA from INSEAD business school in France.
Rachel Willis made the switch to EE, winning the role of People Director in 2016. Prior to that, she worked in senior HR roles at BT for 11 years, heading the HR side of BT Wholesale, BT Operate and also taking on Leadership Development for BT Group. Straight out of the University of Sheffield, where she earned a BA in English Literature, she took on Human Resources roles at the publishing company Informa. While working at Informa, she also earned an MA in Personnel and Development from the University of Westminster.
Peter Fasolo joined Johnson & Johnson in 2004, where he is now serves in the role of Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer. He originally held the role of Worldwide Vice President and provided HR for the Medical Devices segment of the company. He left in 2007 to be the Chief Talent Officer of the private equity firm KKR, where he worked for two years. Before returning to Johnson and Johnson in 2010, Fasolo joined the board of trustees at Save the Children US, as well as Tufts University. He is highly educated, holding a Bachelor’s of Psychology from Providence College, a Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, focusing on Organisational Behaviour Studies from the University of Delaware.
Alice Mallen has been the Human Resources Director for the UK, Europe, and Middle East at the massive aerospace, technology, and defence company Lockheed Martin for over five years. Before that, she worked in senior roles at Saab for seven years, where she managed HR in 16 countries. After two years of working as a consultant for the recruitment agency Blue Arrow, Mallen decided to attend Thames Valley University (now the University of West London) where she earned a diploma in HR. She is a CIPD Fellow, having graduated in 1997 and become a Member in 2000.
Matt Sinnott has been with Lloyds Bank since 2009, and he became Group Director of People and Property in April of 2020. He got his start with the company as a mortgage fraud investigator after seven years of holding mortgage underwriter positions at Nationwide Building Society, Morgan Stanley, and Cheltenham and Gloucester plc. As the person in charge of supporting employees during the pandemic, Sinnott has said that the flexible, collaborative working style he saw flourish during the pandemic would inform decisions about the future of the company down the line. He has a BA with Honours in Business Administration and Management from the Liverpool John Moores University.
Tristam Roberts has worked for Barclays since 2013, when he joined as HR Director of Barclays Investment Bank. After two years, he was promoted to the role of Group HR Director which he still holds today. Roberts got his start in consulting, becoming a partner at Deloitte in 1999, then KPMG in 2003. After seven years in consulting, Roberts became Group Reward and Policy Director at Vodaphone, where he worked until 2009. Then, Roberts began work for HSBC Holdings in the role of Head of HR, Global Functions where he stayed for three years before joining Barclays. Roberts’ education is not public knowledge.
Andy Doyle became Chief Human Resources Officer for National Grid in 2019 following a 14-year career in HR, holding senior roles. After earning his BSc in Economics from Loughborough University, Doyle became Group HR Director at ITV. He held that role for six years before moving on to Worldpay in 2013. There, he held the role of Chief Human Resources Officer for four years, before becoming a Non-Executive Director at Fenwick. Doyle is the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Loughborough Students’ Union.
Helen Cook has worked with Natwest Group, formerly RBS Group, for over 20 years in senior HR Roles. In 2017, she became Chief Human Resources Officer for Natwest in charge of all HR strategy. She has also held senior HR roles at Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, where she worked for six years. After graduating from the University of Cambridge earning a Bachelor of Education with Honours, Cook joined a humanitarian effort in former Yugoslavia before taking part in a graduate programme which led her to Deutsche Bank. Helen Cook is also a CIPD Member.
Kathleen Hogan has worked at Microsoft for 18 years, first as Chief Operating Officer of Worldwide Sales, before her promotion to Chief People Officer in 2015. Hogan is highly educated, first studying Applied Mathematics and Economics at Harvard University. After graduating, she became Development Manager for the computer tech company Oracle, where she worked for two years. In 1992, Hogan undertook further studies at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where she earned her MBA. After that, she was a Partner at McKinsey & Company for 9 years before joining Microsoft. She became a member of the board at Alaska Airlines in 2019, and still retains that position.
Donna Catley worked in HR for 20 years before joining the foodservice company Compass Group as Chief People Officer. She got her start working as a Management Consultant at Accenture in Moscow. After three years, she made the move to Diageo with the role of HR Manager. After two senior HR roles at PerkinElmer and Cisco Systems, Catley began her 11-year career with BP. There, she was in charge of talent, learning, and she also led the policy shifts following the Gulf of Mexico Incident as Transformation Director. She holds both Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Modern History from Exeter College at Oxford University.
Gina Jardine has over 25 years of experience in HR and organisational development, holding senior roles at six different companies. She became Chief Human Resources Officer at the building material company CRH in January of 2021, after two years with the company as Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Before CRH, Jardine was Vice President of Human Resources at Rio Tinto for eight years, and held senior roles at Honda Australia, Sensis, and Linfox. She earned a BA in Psychology from Monash University, before attending Melbourne Business School where she earned her MBA.
Natasha Adams got her start working at a Tesco store in 1998 in the role of Store Personnel Manager. Now, Adams holds the role of Chief People Officer, accountable for all HR strategy across the company. She has been with Tesco for 23 years and has been CPO since 2018. Adams is a Chartered Companion and a Fellow of the CIPD.
Beth Galetti joined Amazon in 2013 as Vice President of Human Resources. In April of 2021, she was promoted to Senior Vice President in charge of People, Experience and Technology. Before moving to Amazon, Galetti worked for eight years at FedEx Express as both Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Planning, Engineering, and Operations. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University, as well as an MBA from Colorado Technical University.
Philipp Wohland has extensive experience in transformation initiatives and human resources. He has worked with Virgin Media for two years, now holding the position of Chief People, Strategy, and Transformation Officer. Before joining Virgin Media, Wohland worked at Unitymedia in Cologne, Germany, spearheading numerous transformation programmes which included the reorganisation of employees. Adding to his strategy experience, he also worked as a project manager at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Wohland is highly educated, holding a Doctorate in Strategic Management from Leuphana University of Luneburg, a diploma from the University of Cologne in Business Administration, and CEMS-Master in International Management degrees from HEC Paris and Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Estelle Hollingsworth has 28 years of experience in management and human resources, having served in senior HR roles at four companies before joining Virgin Atlantic. Since November of 2020, she has been responsible for supporting about 8,000 employees in her role of Chief People Officer. She was HR Director at BAE Systems from 2014-2017 after serving as the Director of Talent for Air Products and Chemicals for 12 years. Hollingsworth got her start in training and development at Hilton Worldwide in 1993, after earning a MSc in Business Administration and Personnel Management from Aston Business School. She also holds a BA with Honours from Cardiff University.
Tess Smillie has worked in HR since 2000, giving her 21 years of experience in the field. Smillie joined Samsung in 2013 and currently serves as VP Human Resources. She got her start at the recruiter Norman Broadbent in 1993, where she served as Consultant/Account Director for seven years. She then joined Microsoft, serving in senior HR roles for four years. In 2008, Smillie took charge of business partnerships and international HR at BlackBerry, working there for five years before joining Samsung. She was educated at Middlesex University.
Sammie Long has been Chief HR Officer at the plumbing and heating company Ferguson for four years. She has worked in HR since 1986, holding a variety of senior roles. Long served as UK Head of Human Resources at Sharp Electronics for one year before joining the team at Kellogg. There, she held VP HR roles in the UK and US, rising to the position of Senior Vice President, Global Human resources. Long studied Human Resources Management and Services at the University of Salford before completing the CHRO and Executive Development Programmes at Cornell University and The Wharton School, respectively.
Danielle Harmer recently won the role of Chief People Officer at the insurance company Aviva in February of 2020. Prior to that, she was Chief People Officer at Metro Bank, and she held a variety of HR positions at Barclay’s and Lloyds. Harmer worked in HR for Halifax for 16 years, rising to the role of regional director. She holds a BSc with Honours in Economics and Business Economics from the University of Southampton.
Amee Parekh has had an extremely successful career since she graduated from the University of Mumbai in 2005. She worked software engineering roles before attending Cornell, where she earned her Masters in Industrial and Labour Relations. In 2010, Parekh joined IBM as an HR Partner, eventually managing their Global Workforce Programme specialising in software sales. Following this switch to HR, Parekh went on to work for Expedia where she held the role of HR Director for their ecommerce platforms. She has worked at Uber since 2018, and was recently promoted from her role as HR Director for UberEats US to Head of HR for Uber Freight and Finance.
Jim Devine joined the manufacturing company Spirax-Sarco in 2016, in the role of HR Director. While there is not much available information about Devine’s education and early career, it can be found that he has worked for Chemring, British Gas, Centrica, Ford Motors, and BAE Systems. According to a brief article in HR Magazine, Devine’s main focus is employee engagement and fostering a workplace culture geared towards performance.
Lionel Mason has worked in HR for the fashion brand Next since 1995. For 25 years he held the role of Head of HR and Manpower Planning, before becoming Group Human Resources Director in June of 2020. He did not always plan on working in HR; Mason earned his Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from Goldsmiths University before making a career change and joining Next.
Nikki Humphrey joined John Lewis in September of 2020 as Executive People Director, following a 24-year career in HR. Humphrey earned her BSC in Psychology from Aston University in 1995 before starting work as HR Officer at the regional newspaper Trinity Mirror. After that, she held HR positions at Babcock International Group and The Sandwich Factory before winning the role of Head of HR, Group Operations and Retail at Lloyd’s bank in 2002. Humphrey worked in that role for nine years before moving to Scottish Windows Investment Partnership where she worked for one year. Returning to Lloyd’s, she served as People Director until 2017. Humphrey then joined the airline company Virgin Atlantic as Chief People Officer, where she worked for three years before joining John Lewis.
Hayley Tatum was recently appointed Chief People Officer for Asda in February of 2021, after nine years of serving as Executive People Director. Tatum got her start at Tesco, in 2005, where she held the role of UK & Ireland Operations Personnel Director. After four years, she left Tesco and began working for the Department of Work and Pensions as a Non-Executive Director, where she stayed until joining Asda in 2011. She is a Chartered Companion of the CIPD, a Testing Practitioner with the British Psychological Society, and has undertaken many management programmes, including INSEAD the HiPo Government Programme. She holds a Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Middlesex University.
Anna Berry has over 14 years of experience in HR, starting her career at GlaxoSmithKline in 1998 as UK Recruitment Co-ordinator. Since then, she has held senior HR positions, including Head of HR for MBDA, and Regional HR Manager for LSL Property Services. Now, she is HR Manager for the UK, France, and Germany at Twitter, where she has worked since 2020. Berry earned her BA from the University of Portsmouth.