Richard Latham, group HR director, Persimmon
Richard Latham has been group HR director at Persimmon since August 2001
He has operational and strategic HR responsibility for around 5,000 direct employees across the UK in 31 regional operating businesses and two manufacturing facilities.
He has a wealth of generalist experience and a particular skill in the management of change, which has been called for on numerous occasions in this very fast-paced industry sector. He has developed strategies to handle the extremes of exceptional growth and significant downturn in what is traditionally a very cyclical industry.
A keen advocate of skills development, Latham has established Persimmon as a major apprenticeships and training provider, which are essential in an industry that is facing a significant skills shortage. In 2019 the company has transformed its approach to learning and development and invested in an internal training function to enable the business to adapt quickly to changing priorities and provide flexible delivery against training needs.
Latham attends the company’s Remuneration and Nomination Committees, regularly represents the interests of home builders on the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and government committees, and is a member of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network. He is an active contributor to the Home Building Skills Partnership, which is an industry-wide joint venture between the Home Builders’ Federation and the CITB to encourage recruitment, skills development and greater engagement across the sector.
He was chair of a Trailblazer group to establish a new apprenticeship for on-site erection and installation of timber frame housing components. This group subsequently merged with similar Trailblazers to deliver the Construction Assembly and Installation Operative Apprenticeship, which was approved for delivery in 2019.
Highlights of his career with Persimmon include the integration of new employees following major acquisitions and the establishment of the company’s “Combat to Construction” initiative, which has seen more than 200 ex-forces personnel recruited to be trained and qualified as bricklayers and joiners. He is also proud of the fact that Persimmon was the first house builder to receive external independent accreditation for its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion.
The Persimmon Group has been one of the top-performing businesses in the FTSE 100 in recent years and in 2018 built in excess of 16,400 new homes. It is also one of the most innovative organisations in the sector having diversified into the manufacture of its own bricks and the building of a roof-tile factory, which are exciting firsts for the house building sector. None of these achievements would be possible without a skilled and motivated workforce.
Latham is looking forward to the challenges ahead, particularly supporting Persimmon’s strategic goals and the ongoing cultural change that is taking place following the recent appointment of a new chief executive.
He has appeared on various HR Most Influential lists since 2014.