Building Culture

– with Debbie Waddington, Group HR Director, Keepmoat

Humans of HR: The story behind the leading lights – their career, motivation and achievements.

From a career that started in company administration to a culture defining role, Debbie Waddington, Group HR Director at house builder Keepmoat understands the power of Human Resources.

Keepmoat Homes Debbie Waddington

10 July 2024

Story by
Simon Kent, Head of Content – The HR World

Having worked at BT for 26 years, first as a typist before moving into PA roles, management and up to director level, Debbie Waddington’s initial HR role was in the financial services sector. She has had multiple HR roles at HBOS, Aviva and Lloyds Bank, before moving into her current role at Keepmoat, a leading Partnership home builder, which focusses on first time buyers and providing high quality homes throughout the UK.

This career path is, in itself, a source of pride for Waddington: “In terms of stand-out achievements, I’d have to say firstly progressing my career from being a 16-year-old typist right up to Director level within one company alone, and then switching focus entirely, moving into HR and up to Group HR Director,” she says.

The HR Challenge

Waddington’s switch into HR came as a result of her desire to challenge herself in a different company and different sector. She enjoyed her time at BT within operationally focused roles, but this was a chance to do something entirely different, for a different company in a different sector.  “When I discussed my experience with a recruitment agency, they matched me to a role at HBOS as part of their Retail HR team,” she explains, “focusing on a large scale pay and a bonus related change project. Working on this project covering 45,000 colleagues helped me to see much of the work I’d previously done through a HR lens, and I subsequently remained in HR.”  

The route worked well for her and even now being in HR enables Waddington to focus on how the business aligns the work they’re doing with how the business and their people work.

“There’s numerous things that are highly satisfying about working in HR, but I’d say the key one is the ability to influence the business and implement changes that ensure our people and our business goes from strength to strength,” she says.

Keepmoat House building

Driving Cultural Change

As a member of the Executive Team, Waddington has worked closely with the CEO and wider board to bring a company-wide strategic and cultural change to the business, putting their people and customers at the centre of everything they do. This approach has been a particular source of pride for Waddington.

“I can see the benefits of this change in terms of the quality of the homes our teams build, our customer satisfaction scores, the delivery of our business plan over several years and the way in which we successfully navigated the pandemic, as well as in our ability to attract talent to the business and the level of engagement from our people,” she says.

The View of HR

When asked if there were anything she’d like to change about HR, Waddington says she would change the way in which the function is viewed. “It’s often seen as ‘soft’ and ‘fluffy’ rather than focusing on how our work engages colleagues to create a high-performing culture that drives exceptional value and results,” she says.

“If you have talented and engaged people, working in the right way, they’ll deliver a quality product or service and high customer satisfaction, ultimately enhancing the reputation of the business, driving future growth and building a strong company with a strong future,” she concludes. “HR is a key enabler of all aspects of business.”

Keepmoat Homes Debbie Waddington

Debbie Waddington

Group HR Director, Keepmoat
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