HRMI 2022: Kerry Smith, chief people officer, British Heart Foundation

Kerry Smith joined the British Heart Foundation in 2013, steering one of the largest charities in the UK at over £350 million turnover. In 2022 she made the step from director of people and organisational development to become the charity’s chief people officer.

Recently, she worked with the charity’s CEO to launch its first D&I Strategy. 

She has three decades’ worth of experience working for recognised organisations including the Royal Horticultural Society and the National Trust. 

Smith is responsible for the full people experience at the British Heart Foundation and leads a directorate supporting over 4,000 staff and 20,000 volunteers across 750 shops and stores, as well as the online eBay operation which has an annual turnover of £11 million. 

As well as the full people function, her remit includes talent and organisational development, internal communications and wellbeing, safety and diversity. Smith is known for leading award-winning people change programmes which bring about modern and successful workplaces.  

Her team have received multiple awards such as HR Excellence Awards for Best Talent Management Strategy and People-Focused Workplace Design. 

As chair of the Charity HR Network, Smith led the organisation to full incorporation status, and expanded membership of the organisation 15%. Smith also sits on the board of Fairtrade, and mentors on the CIPD Aspiring HRD programme. 


Recommended reading: 

Back to life, back to (a new) reality: the workplace after furlough 

Case study: Sharing graduate recruitment in the charity sector 


Kerry Smith ranked 23rd on the list of HR Most Influential practitioners in 2022. 

Find the full list of HR Most Influential 2022 practitioners and thinkers here.