Taking on a new role is as challenging as it is exciting. In this series we will be talking to HR professionals who are getting to grips with a new job and finding out what attracted them to the role, as well as what their key priorities are for the months ahead. Want to tell us about a new role you're getting stuck into? Get in touch.
Catherine Lynch was recently appointed as Chief People Officer at Virgin Media, having been Group HR Director of financial services company Towergate.
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Catherine's career has focussed on developing high performing organisations and the HR teams supporting them in brands as diverse as Barclaycard and Tesco.
Shonette Laffy, HRZone: First, tell us a bit about your past roles & experience.
I have more than two decades experience in HR, with a focus on financial services and retail. Prior to Virgin Media I was Group HR director of financial services company Towergate and I have also held senior HR roles at BGL Group, Barclaycard, Santander UK and Sainsbury’s.
As I have progressed in my career development I have built experience in leading teams, as well as having responsibility for developing strategies to help create a more engaged, productive workforce.
Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What attracted you to the role?
Virgin Media is a well-respected brand with a large workforce, so I knew that the role would come with some exciting challenges.
The company acknowledges that big growth ambitions have to be complemented with investment in people and talent, and this is coming in spades from the backing of our global parent, Liberty Media. I also know that there’s a great support mechanism at Virgin Media, and a real team spirit.
Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What aspects of the role are you looking forward to getting your teeth into first?
Virgin Media has just celebrated its tenth anniversary and I believe that this gives us a great opportunity to think about our culture and values – identifying what we are most proud of and what will set us apart over the next decade.
Virgin Media considers its people to be the most important asset to the business, helping the company to grow and stand out as a leader in technology and innovation in Europe. To help the firm progress with its expansion plans, investment in people has long been identified as key to success. I have identified three goals that I will be working on with the Virgin Media team:
- Develop a high performing leadership team, with the capability to inspire our 25,000-strong workforce to achieve the ambitious and exciting growth plans of Virgin Media
- Create a best in class people function that develops 21st century leadership, leading change from inside out.
- Develop alignment and harness synergies with Liberty Global, our parent company, as we create a number of global approaches to our people proposition - maximising the value of the group for our Virgin Media teams.
Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What are your priorities for the coming year?
Over the next few months I will be getting stuck into understanding the business that I have joined, the sectors that Virgin Media operates in, and implementing a new talent strategy that will ensure we have the best people to help us deliver on our goals.
Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What are the things you champion within HR?
I want to use the data and insight that we have at our disposal to make good decisions that create an engaged workforce that wants to help our business to succeed.
To quote Sir Richard Branson “… if you start with a happy, well-motivated workforce, you’re much more likely to have happy customers …”. This is the complete ethos to me of why a good team of people are at the heart of everything.