· 1 min read · People

Louise Smalley, group HR director, Whitbread


Louise Smalley was appointed to the main board of Whitbread in 2012, making the hospitality business one of the most diverse in the FTSE 100 in terms of the number of female board members

Smalley has been Whitbread’s HR director for 12 years, a period of sustained growth for the business and the group’s hospitality brands. Having announced the successful sale of the Costa Coffee business in early 2019, Whitbread is now focused on growing a successful international hotel business under the Premier Inn brand. Continuing to provide progressive employment opportunities for more than 35,000 direct employees with a ‘no barriers to entry and no limits to ambition’ philosophy remains a fundamental priority for Whitbread.

Smalley has held a variety of business change and HR roles across Whitbread’s businesses. She previously worked as an HR professional in the oil industry for 10 years, firstly with BP and then Esso Petroleum. This allowed her to build a strong foundation of knowledge across all aspects of HR, with particular expertise in industrial relations.

Smalley joined the board of DS Smith as a non-executive director in June 2014, inspired by its plans to redefine the role of sustainable packaging solutions in a rapidly-changing consumer and retail environment.