Ann Pickering, HR director, O2 (Telefónica UK)

Ann Pickering joined O2 (Telefónica UK) in 2004, was appointed to the UK board as HR director in 2008, and appointed CHRO and chief of staff in January 2018

Since joining the company O2 has achieved a top 20 place three times in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and was named eighth in the UK Best Places to Work. For the past two years it has been included in the top 25 companies in the Social Mobility Employer Index, which identifies UK businesses taking the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace.

In 2018 Pickering was recognised as HR magazine's number one ‘Most Influential Practitioner’ in the UK. She regularly calls upon business, government and educators to work together to ensure there are sufficient digitally-skilled workers to drive the UK economy, and is extremely passionate about social inclusion and promoting career opportunities for all young people in the digital sector.

O2 now boasts a majority-female board, and under Pickering’s direction the company has implemented a number of industry-leading policies and schemes. Its family policy was updated in early 2019 to increase paid paternity leave to 14 weeks for heterosexual and same-sex couples. In 2016 it introduced a career returners programme offering women and men the chance to learn new skills and adapt back to a job after an extended career break of two or more years, with a paid 14-week programme.

Prior to O2 Pickering worked for Marks and Spencer, Fidelity and Xansa (now Steria).

Outside of O2 Pickering is chair of the advisory board of Sheffield University Management School where she is also visiting professor of HRM and employability. She became an advisory board member of the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) in 2018 and is a trustee of ‘Step Up to Serve’ – a charity established in 2013 to make social action part of life for 10- to 20-year-olds by 2020.

Pickering was appointed a trustee of Breast Cancer Now in September 2017, and is a chartered fellow of the Institute of Personnel Development.

She is married with two sons; Jack and Rory.