Kelly Wakeman - Group People Director - Photo
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Kelly Wakeman

Group People Director

My journey so far

I joined Holiday Extras in April 2019 as Group People Director and I am absolutely delighted to be part of such a fantastic organisation.

My role is primarily to partner with the Executive Team to drive our people strategy and change activities so that our team is set up for the future and that everybody at Holiday Extras can reach their full potential.

I see myself and the People Team as partners, who enable the continued growth and development of individuals and the organisation. Luckily, I have the pleasure of leading a forward thinking People Team on the mission to remain an amazing place to work and learn.

I am naturally a people person, so it's imperative to me that as leaders we listen to, understand, inspire and engage those around us.

Life before Holiday Extras

I started my career at Tesco and worked my way up from being 'Kelly on the Deli' to covering many diverse Commercial and HR positions across retail, head office and distribution. Primarily focussing on shaping and delivering people activities to ensure success in a fast paced, customer centric environment.

Next stop, Coty for 7 years as their HR Director at a family owned, global business. Here, I was involved at a commercial level, understanding the intricacies of business and how a good people team can really help drive success for individuals and an organisation at the same time. In this role I got my first exposure of working closely with people in multiple countries, multiple disciplines and in different business units across an entire group. To stop me getting bored, I also studied for and completed my HR degree, never a dull day!

Following Coty, I worked as the Head of HR Operations at Brakes, really consolidating my knowledge of working across a diverse organisation of 8,000 people, preparing long-term people plans, change management projects as well as effectively running the more central responsibilities within HR; engagement, payroll, benefits, employee relations etc. During my time, I supported the people activities associated with starting up a joint venture and preparing the organisation for sale.

Finally, I spent 3 years at Knauf, another family owned organisation, initially as their HR Director, UK and Ireland. Before being promoted to HR and Sustainability Director for Northern Europe. Partnering with 7 different business units, in 7 different countries and developing the long-term strategy with the regional CEO and Managing Directors was just part of the role. I also enjoyed leading a Group project to improve the overall employee experience for the c.28,000 people globally. All with the intention of providing people with a great place to work, helping the organisation to continue its growth plans and enabling an efficient way of working internally - smarter not harder is one of my mantras.

Life outside of Holiday Extras

When we're not knee deep in renovating our house, it's very likely you'll find me, my husband Dan and two children, Chloe 17 and Oliver 9 at our local beach in Whitstable.

As a family, we like to be outdoors - whether that's camping somewhere off grid in the UK or Europe, riding our bikes over the Golden Gate in San Francisco or exploring as many new places by as many different means as possible, we will be outside come rain or shine.

As an individual, I like a lot of variety in my life. I am an avid reader, so you are just as likely to find me reading in a cosy pub with a roaring fireplace as you are finding me at a Rudimental concert. I love curling up on the sofa having a cuddle with the kids, spending time with family and friends but if you're ever in Whitstable you could just as easily catch me speeding across the water on a Jet Ski.