Job Title: Retail People Director

Name: Caroline Massingham

Company: ASDA

Professional Qualification(s):
Nine O Levels, 4 A Levels, BA Honours combined business and Law, specialising in Employment Law, Fellow of Institute of Personnel and Development.

Degree studied at
Liverpool UniversityBrief job description
I report to the People Director, with accountability for Strategic and Operational HR across 241 Retail Stores and 17 Regional Distribution Centres. I am responsible for people strategy, recrutiment, training, development and motivational implementation. The remit covers 110,000 colleagues within Retail and Distibution. Accountability for 4 Divisional People Managers and 17 Distribution People Managers.

My career so far…
1997 to Date – Asda Stores Limited. Having progressed internally from Store People Manager through Retail People Manager for the North West and HyperMarkets. Post Hypermarkets into Logistics and Head of HR and then combining Head of Corporate and Logistics, with responsibility for Head office and Distribution Centres.

Retail People Director : October 2000.

Head of HR – Owens Corning – Glass Fibre Production. Responsible for HR Operation and strategy for the 2 UK manufacturing sites and Wrexham and Liversage (Yorks).

Head of HR – PowerGen
Personnel and Training Manager: Triplex Lloyd plc
Personnel Officer : The Link Organisation
Assistant Manager: J. Sainsbury Plc

What does your job involve in a typical day?
There is great variation in the job, and in fact there is no such thing as an “a typical day”. The role varies from time spent in Board meetings making decisions around the People Plans for the business to holding listening groups and responding to issues out in the field.

Much of my time is spent out in the field visiting Stores and Distribution Centres, holding listening groups and reporting back on the health of the Nation. The details of the visits drive back into the People Team at Head Office who through the development of the People Business Plans strive to fundamentally affect change and deliver timely and responsive solutions to the issues.On a period basis the role also covers, period reviews, coaching of Divisional and Line Managers, recruitment of Senior Managers in the business, particularly at General and Store Management level. Oh and Meetings, meetings and more meetings!!

Board Reports and statistical analysis are also key elements of the job role.

Focus on the inputs and “How” we can make change is also key. To be visionary helps! and sometimes telepathy would be useful!!!.

It is a really mixed role with 1 day spent writing papers on the future strategy for the business to the next implementing “New Rrecruitment Tools” or running seminars and workshops.

What do you like most about your job?
The Generalist and broad spectrum of the job role is creates a real buzz. Very rarely do you ever get 2 days a like. People are fascinating and the changeability means that the job is both challenging and very rewarding. Coaching the line through to solution and problem resolution is also very challenging.

What skills are required in your job?
The biggest skill is listening, followed by the ability to make decisions which are both practical and which resolve the issues. The ability to manage through others given the diversity of the role is also essential.

How many people work for you?
9 People in total have some accountability to me through the field Structure.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
Retailing is a very rewarding. It is fast paced and challenging 24 hours a day. It requires real commitment and drive, but the returns are high. “People really do make a difference”, and the people element in a Customer Service Environment is the key point of difference. Therefore, you really do affect the business in every way.

The ability to move across a broad and varied band of jobs is also very opportunistic. In ASDA we have no boundaries other than those we create for ourselves. Therefore, if you are looking for a quick return for your effort in terms of career progression then retailing will and can deliver it.