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HRMI 2018: Ann Pickering tops list of influential practitioners


HR magazine unveiled its 2018 Most Influential rankings at an exclusive event at Claridge's last night

The HR Most Influential rankings, in partnership with LifeSight, recognise the HR practitioners and thinkers pushing people strategy forward. HR Most Influential is now in its 13th year.

Ann Pickering, HR director of Telefónica UK, was revealed as this year's most influential practitioner. Pickering was praised for being someone who “doesn’t make a fuss about the amazing things they’ve done, and just quietly gets on with it”.

“I have nothing to say other than that I am exceptionally honoured. I have worked alongside Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth for many years and am proud to even be in her shadow, so I am truly honoured. Thank you," she said.

Hughes-D’Aeth, HR director for the BBC, took third place (she also ranked third in 2017). She reflected on some of the challenges the organisation had faced over the past year in her acceptance speech. “I’m truly shocked. We’ve had one hell of a year at the BBC, but it’s a fantastic time to be in HR,” she said.

“We’ve had to deal with the gender pay gap, we’ve had to deal with how much our presenters should be paid. This has been our most difficult year, but I do feel we’re in a much better place, so thank you very much.”

Althea Loderick, strategic director of resources at Brent Council, was ranked second most influential practitioner for the second year running.

Accepting Loderick’s award on her behalf, MD of Chameleon People Solutions and former director of human resources at the Metropolitan Police. Martin Tiplady described her as “a down to earth, ambitious, and very strong willed HR director.”

"She is someone who has dealt with personal and professional challenges her whole life, that she has just brushed aside, and dealt with in the most pleasant of ways. This is thoroughly deserved,” he said.

In a moving speech David Orme paid tribute to his late wife Jackie Orme, former chief executive of the CIPD and former chief people officer for PepsiCo, who was posthumously awarded an HR Lifetime Achievement Award to join the HR Most Influential Hall of Fame.

He said: “I am very proud of Jackie. For those of you who knew her: she was incredibly brave, incredibly focused, but she never made it about herself. It was always about the people she worked with, the people she worked for, and it was about making a difference.”

Also joining the HR Most Influential Hall of Fame this year was Priscilla Vacassin, former HR director of Prudential, who was also recognised posthumously. Her son Daniel Vacassin praised his mother for being a trailblazer in the field and for championing diversity, particularly women on boards.

Vacassin described her as a dedicated mother who worked tirelessly while supporting her children. He added that the award was a “really nice recognition for the other love of her life, which was her work."

Here are the top 40 practitioners:

1Ann PickeringHR directorTelefónica UK
2Althea LoderickStrategic director for resourcesBrent Council
3Valerie Hughes-D'AethGroup HR directorBBC
4Simon LinaresGroup HR directorDirect Line
5Siobhán SheridanCivilian human resources directorMinistry of Defence
6Louise SmalleyGroup HR directorWhitbread
7Andrew DodmanChief operating officerUniversity of Sheffield
8Eugenio PirriChief people and culture officerDorchester Collection
9Mandy CoalterDirector of peopleUnited Learning
10Natalie BickfordGroup HR directorMerlin Entertainments Group
11Kate GuthrieGroup HR directorCYBG
12Sally AustinGroup HR directorCostain
13Jabbar SardarHR directorBBC Studios
14Julie WelchGroup HR directorBunzl
15Neil MorrisonHR directorSevern Trent
16Danny HarmerChief people officerMetro Bank
17Matt ElliotPeople directorVirgin Money
18Annette KelleherChief HR officerJohnson Matthey
19Rupert McNeilChief people officerGovernment
20Shokat LalAssistant chief executiveRotherham Council
21Kathryn AustinChief people & marketing directorPizza Hut Restaurants
22Des PullenGroup HR directorAssociated British Foods
23Toby Peyton-JonesHR directorSiemens UK & North West Europe
24Geoff TranfieldGroup HR directorIMI
25Janet KingDirector of HR and corporate services and deputy chief executiveFrimley Health Foundation Trust
26Gail ClarkHead of workforce changeLondon Borough of Barking and Dagenham
27Leena NairChief HR officerUnilever
28Claire GoreDirector of HR and ODLondon North West University Healthcare NHS
29Ben BengougamSenior vice president HR EMEAHilton
30Mark SandhamSenior vice president and chief operating officer human resourcesThomson Reuters
31Baljinder KangExecutive director of HR & learningMidland Heart
32Deborah BakerGroup director for peopleSky
33Martyn DickerFormer director of people & learningThe Prince's Trust
34Erica ColettaChief HR officerpladis Global
35Carol KavanaghGroup HR directorTravis Perkins Group
36Deborah LeeChief people officerYoox Net-A-Porter Group
37Jonathan CrookallPeople directorHalfords
38John StewartDirector of HRSSE
39Claire HallExecutive vice president peopleMenzies Aviation
40Sarah MorrisChief people officerAviva

Visit the HR Most Influential website for all our listed individuals and their profiles.