Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, group HR director, BBC

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​There have been few higher profile HR jobs over the last few years than heading up HR at the BBC

People-related issues have regularly hit headlines, whether top talent pay disclosures, the BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie standing down over a ‘secretive and illegal pay culture’, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launching an investigation over equal pay…

But Hughes-D’Aeth has weathered this all marvellously and in her characteristic calm, down to earth way. Yet her achievements since joining in 2014 are anything but modest.

The introduction of a Career Path Framework with transparent pay ranges has reduced 5,000 job titles to 600. The BBC has reduced its gender pay gap by nearly a fifth, from 9.3% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2018, with the National Audit Office reporting that this gap is ‘lower than the national average and most other media organisations’.

By January 2019, it had reduced the number of senior managers by 205 (46%), from 540 in 2010-11 to 245, and the public service broadcasting (PSB) senior management pay-bill by £24.5 million (38%), from £64.1 million in 2010-11 to £39.6 million. And it has all reduced its spending on on-air roles. We could go on…

Prior to joining the BBC Hughes-D'Aeth was group HR director at support services organisation Amey, with responsibility for the HR, marketing/communications and health, safety and sustainability strategy for 20,000 employees. During this time she led the people integration of 10,000 employees from acquired company Enterprise.

She previously held the role of group HR director for Steria, based in Paris, with global responsibility for 20,000 employees. She joined Steria in 2007 as a result of it acquiring Xansa and was responsible for the people merger of the two organisations. She had worked at Xansa for 10 years, initially on a part-time basis while bringing up a young family and then moving to become group HR director in 2004. In addition to leading the HR function she developed a new HR outsourcing service line for the organisation from India.

Her earlier career was spent initially at Selfridges as a personnel manager and then at EDS (now Hewlett Packard), which she joined while living in the Netherlands. She spent four years there heading up European recruitment and then becoming HR director for northern Europe. She transferred to the UK with the organisation as head of European compensation and benefits before becoming UK HR director.

Hughes-D’Aeth has been a stalwart of the HRMI top three. And so we’re delighted to award her this HR Most Influential Hall of Fame recognition as she leaves the BBC at the end of the year to pursue an NED, portfolio career. She’ll no doubt achieve more great things in the years to come.

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