· Features

How I got here: Nathan Clements, SSP Group

Nathan Clements, chief people officer at foodservice company SSP Group shares his tips for a successful career in HR.

Chief people officer, SSP Group 

June 2021 – present

We’re into dream job territory here. SSP operates at the intersection between two awesome sectors: food and travel. So, I’m putting myself no doubt under too much pressure to bring my A game, every day.

In my first year, we’ve had an unplanned switch of group CEO and we’re twice the size in headcount (to 30,000 people) than we were, so the people agenda has been central to protecting and nurturing business performance.  

HR career tips:

Fiona Mullan, Bloom & Wild

Marcelle Moncrieffe-Johnson, London South Bank University

Salma De Graaff, Skyscanner


HR director, UK and Ireland, Walgreens Boots Alliance

November 2016 – December 2020

Heading up HR for the iconic brand Boots – what an honour. The love in the business showed me the real power of a strong purpose and every individual being aligned and committed to that purpose.

The team would regularly go above and beyond what many would consider reasonable to serve their communities and patients. This became so important when we all had to step up to lead the Covid response.  


Group HR director, DMG Media

January 2014 – December 2016

For those who work in media, you’ll know how different it can be – brilliantly different. I learnt to drop my remaining ‘HR speak’ and become more committed to understanding the needs of the business.

This included the different journalistic sub-cultures, the print team and digital team. Each culture was at a different life stage, and it meant juggling high but flat profit with low growth vs low/no profit high growth. 


"Take the time to understand your strengths and motivators, then set sail and commit to everything you do."


Head of OD and talent, HR director manufacturing, HR director, supply chain manufacturing and logistics, Morrisons

August 2008 – December 2013

Morrisons was a real opportunity to consolidate all my learning in a dynamic business. I felt I had the best HR role in the business, looking after manufacturing and supply chain. It was a period of transformation and investment, supported by a strong people plan. We introduced lean thinking, balanced scorecards, daily stand-ups and the business drove real value. 


Director of OD, B&Q

November 2006 – July 2008

A transition for my mindset in terms of what good looks like. I moved away from a best practice mentality to ‘done is better than perfect’. This was my first non-partnering role where I was leading agendas rather than a business area. It gave great exposure to lead out a strong performance, engagement and communications agenda, and learn the role of supporting HR business partners.  


Various unit head of HR and senior HR partnering roles, PepsiCo

January 2002 – November 2006

PepsiCo took me from a practicing HR person to a HR professional – priceless on-the-job development. I moved role every two years and took on cross-functional project work. Find this type of business to boost your experience early in your career. I gained depth (talent/performance/union regs) and breadth across manufacturing, logistics and head office.  

Top three career tips:

1. Be selfish. Listen, learn and take counsel, but remember it’s your journey. Take the time to understand your strengths and motivators, then set sail and commit to everything you do.

2. Don’t chase the badge, chase new experiences. Your career is a marathon, so take time, put the miles in and maximise the experience in each role.

3. Build a great team. Play with the team you inherit and make improvements where necessary. Support them to over-achieve – more fun will be had and more will be achieved


The full article of the above first appeared in the September/October 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.