HR Director of the Year 2017 shortlist announced


I have worked with Lisa both at Sainsbury's and Starbucks's - she is an absolute asset to the HR profession, she is a true servant leader and always balances the needs of the organisations that she ...

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​We are delighted to announce our shortlist for the HR Excellence Awards 2017 HR Director of the Year

The shortlist is produced following nominations and input from the HR editorial team, readers, and industry experts and is based on the individual's achievements during the period 2016 to 2017.

This award is for someone with exceptional skills at putting people top of their agenda; someone the world of HR should look up to as an example of excellence.

Find out more about each of our 10 finalists here and click here to vote for your winner.

The deadline is 21 May and the winner will be announced at the HR Excellence Awards ceremony on Tuesday 27 June at the London Hilton on Park Lane. For more information about attending the awards and to book click here.

We can reveal that our finalists are:

Shakil Butt, former HROD director, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Managing an employee base across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, operating in challenging conditions, is no mean feat. But this is exactly what Butt has done over the last seven years, transforming Islamic Relief Worldwide from an organisation where staff were disengaged and didn’t have confidence that the senior leadership team would listen to their suggestions, to one that's already won multiple awards.

Fiona Evans, HR director, The Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Evans arrived for her first day at The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – her dream job – at the end of January 2014 knowing there was lots of scope to improve things. Fast forward to 2017 and both the HR team and organisation have been totally transformed. Some of these changes include: carrying out employee surveys, overhauling the recruitment process and induction programme, and introducing family-friendly policies.

Janet King, director of HR and corporate services, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust

HR has been central to the success of this organisation’s turnaround. Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust acquired Wexham Park and Heatherwood hospitals in 2014, but Wexham & Heatherwood had been placed into special measures and was struggling on all key organisational indicators. Within a short period of time evidence that the new HR plan, spearheaded by King, was working became obvious. The atmosphere changed and pulse surveys showed remarkable improvements. King's OD work on inspiring staff to deliver a new level of self-belief and confidence was pivotal in turning the organisation around.

Kathryn Pritchard, group chief people officer, Odeon Cinemas Group

Pritchard’s vision and creativity have been fundamental to Odeon’s transformation and success in the last two years. She has designed and delivered a people strategy that has reached and positively affected every aspect of the business, from the leaders in every territory to the hosts in every cinema. Her inspiration and focus have galvanised its teams to deliver significantly improved business performance alongside dramatic improvements in organisational health scores.

Pauline Prow, chief people officer, Monarch

Airline group Monarch has faced some stormy skies recently. Prow has guided the business through a number of restructures, including closure of the DB pension scheme. In October 2014 the business was sold to GreyBull Capital, which involved taking 700 roles out and renegotiating T&Cs across the group. That would be a big ask for anyone, but Prow had to manage it in only three weeks. Against all this change engagement was naturally low at 67%. But after 12 months of hard work the score rose to 83%.

Lisa Robbins, director of partner resources, Starbucks UK

With around half of Starbucks partners (employees) under the age of 24, Robbins demonstrates a real passion for elevating the employment experience for young partners and retaining high-potential team players. She was instrumental in the development of the business' apprenticeship offering and the work with The Challenge Headstart programme – helping to build the confidence of young people and those in danger of becoming NEET, and get them into work.

Ollie Roberts, vice president, people integration, AB InBev

Roberts led the people, OD and planning work during the M&A and integration planning process of the acquisition of SABMiller, which completed in October 2016. Much of his focus during the deal process was on ensuring retention and engagement was successfully managed during this uncertain time for employees. He has a particular passion for diversity and inclusion, having developed commercial partnerships with Pride in London and being a sponsor of SABMiller’s LGBT network and Women in Leadership Forum.

Melvin Rogers, director of HR, Sytner

Rogers has been instrumental to Sytner’s success in the Sunday Times Best Company to Work For Competition. After eight years in the top five, Sytner Group was named the number one Best Big Company to Work For in the UK this year. This prestigious award was made all the more significant because it was directly voted for by the company’s employees. Rogers has shown himself to be an inspirational HR leader and someone delivering HR excellence as well as actual results.

Mark Simmons, HR & QHSE director, XPO Logistics

Simmons has been instrumental in developing a people-focused culture that has been at the foundation of the success of XPO Logistics’ supply chain business in the UK over the past few years. He is an exceptional communicator, negotiator and influencer who can tackle complex issues and translate business goals into practical strategies. Simmons and his team have implemented substantial people programmes to foster a culture of entrepreneurialism and enthusiasm.

Vicky Williams, people director, Lawn Tennis Association

Williams' personal passion is nurturing talent, and at the LTA she has created a flexible, high-performing working environment – in particular championing women returners and young talent. Internal promotion statistics and the number of colleagues with outstanding performance ratings have doubled during her term as people director. She also campaigns to extend this into the wider British Tennis Network, supporting tennis star Greg Rusedski and the 30% Club in launching a mentoring programme for women in sport.

Find out more about each finalist here and click here to vote for your winner.

*Only votes cast by following the link above will be counted. Please do not attempt to vote by leaving a comment with your chosen winner, as it will not be counted.*


I have worked with Lisa both at Sainsbury's and Starbucks's - she is an absolute asset to the HR profession, she is a true servant leader and always balances the needs of the organisations that she has worked for with a real passion for all those that work within them


Youth is the future of the world. Helping younger generation to grow and build confidence is not only enhancing internal partners' experience but a good contribution to the society!


I have been a publicly elected Governor at Frimley Health (and its predecessor, Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) for 11 years between 2005 and 2017. Throughout that time Janet King has been hugely supportive of Governors in helping them to understand the complexities of managing a large NHS Trust. She has done this while managing a successful, but constantly busy, HR team and has contributed hugely not just to the recent transformation programme but also to the continuing success of the Trust, focusing relentlessly on the need for patient care to be delivered to the highest possible standard.


Culture in a Company comes from the top, as HR Director of the Sytner Group (Sunday Times Best Company To Work For) Melvin Rodgers is an inspiration to us all. No one deserves this accolade more


Melvin Rogers steers the HR helm at Sytner with passion, skill and commitment. He's not only been instrumental in Sytner securing the Sunday Times accolade for the best big company to work for but continues to influence people decisions across the business with drive, ambition and energy.


Melvin is true gentleman who prides himself on his dedication to providing the highest level of support to his team. His work ethic is to be commended.


Melvin Rogers has been pivotal to the Sytner Group's success in his role as HR Director. His motivational and inspirational leadership skills have enabled his organisation to achieve remarkable results in an industry that is extremely competitive and highly regulated. He has been a key driver in the organisation's aim to be famous for delighting its customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders and has worked tirelessly to bring this aim into reality. I know from personal experience that Melvin has worked to ensured that 'people' are they key to organisational success. I can not think of a more fitting HR direcotr to win this award.


Mel Rogers continues to drive change by consistently reviewing the developmental needs within his core passion, “To train and develop internal talent” . During the last ten years his ability to engage and empower across an extensive employee base has been remarkable, eclipsed by the recent success with the organization being voted the winner of the Sunday times 100 best large companies.


Mel Rogers. I cannot think of another single person that has a absolute passion for people that Mel demonstrates. A true champion and an inspiration that lasts long in the memory.


Ollie Roberts is a true inspiration. A real example of a HR professional at the top of their game. I honestly do not know who could have led the people integration work better during one of the largest takeovers in corporate history. He understands the heart beat of his organisation - and because of this matches his passion for people with commercial know how.


Mel has been instrumental in our quest to become and remain The Best Company To Work For. His leadership, drive and commitment to the Company and all Colleagues is to be commended.


I've explained here how I came across Shakil Butt's nomination and I've voted for him because of his long service within a single charitable organisation of huge impact, his dual professional qualification track and the humility & commitment to lifelong learning he showed in attending our recent Open University MBA alumni master-class on governance. If leaders who are well-placed to run such a seminar show they are willing instead to learn and be challenged as a participant, then their colleagues will be inspired to pursue their own continuing professional development.


MelRogers is a true professional, a gentleman who is absolutley dedicated to his work with Sytner, the results speak for themselves, i am proud to know Melvin, his measured and professional attitude is to be commended,


Mel Rogers Mel has been instrumental in Sytner achieving the Top 100 Company accolade which alone must make him a contender for top spot. But having worked with Mel this is only part of his success story. He has a huge passion for people and business development which I know the US parent company Penske Automotive Group recognise and value in both Sytner performance and Mel’s work. However, his dedication does not stop at this demanding role and success. He also dedicates significant time and effort as an IMI Board Member which supports and steers IMI’s its work on skills development across the globe. I work with many HR and people development professionals on an international basis and I can honestly say I know no other individual that would be a more worthy winner. Steve Scofield


Shakil has dedicated his adult life to serving humanity across the world reaching the most vulnerable people. His leadership has seen radical changes to how HR was being done resulting in a better People Deal ranging from reward, to well being, culture and values in fact across the full spectrum of HR. His inspirational approach has meant his added value is unmistakeable whilst his commitment and conviction is unshakeable. Making a difference and touching people's lives is what drives him to bring about real change. He could have pursued a lucrative career but chose to dedicate his life to saving lives as his passion has always been about people. A true professional, a gentleman and a leader in every aspect.


Shakil Butt is a fantastic individual who always goes the extra mile. He is a genuine person with a big heart who really cares about the local community and really puts his all into everything he does. Shakil is faultless on his level of professionalism and interactions with others. He is much deserving of this nomination! A true gent!


Sytner is well represented by Mel Rogers who remains focused on recruiting top talent, training & mentoring as well as employee engagement. His dedication to the Human Resources profession has played a key role in the success of Sytner and their ability to expand and grow their markets.


I wish Mel all the very best and really hope he wins this award as he so deserves it. Mel was instrumental over the years with my development when I worked for the Group. Great job Mel. Good luck, you have my vote ??

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