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Donna Catley - HR Director

Case Study

Donna Catley joined Compass Group UK & Ireland in 2017, with over 25 years HR experience with major multinational companies including Diageo, Cisco Systems and BP.

Originally from Birmingham, Donna went to University in Oxford to study History. Her career began at Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm where she was a consultant. After a short time there learning the ropes, she realised she wanted to work in industry and hit the ground running as a HR Manager at Diageo. Working in their Guinness division, Donna used this time to gain invaluable experience.

In her 20s Donna wanted to follow her instinct for adventure, without sacrificing her love for working in HR. She combined the two by finding a job in America and working in Massachusetts, she took on the role of HR Director for a life sciences business. Donna was following her dream of travelling whilst pursuing a career and continued this theme by later working in Russia and Germany.

Donna relocated to the UK when she felt the time was right, after years of enjoying a nomadic career, she took on a role at BP in England which still included lots of travel.

“If you’re ambitious you need to be planned and keep your eye on the end game, but you also need to think about how you want to spend your time - what you enjoy doing and what you want to experience. I’ve always found a way to ensure my career and interests complement each other and I feel I’ve got the balance right. Life is too short not to enjoy it!”

After having her son, Donna worked part-time for almost six years, balancing life as a parent and having a demanding, but rewarding role. During this time she describes the key to overcoming the challenges that come with being a working parent – “I had to be incredibly productive at work. I needed to get the job done so that I could also enjoy my time at home with my son.”

“When you have a family you need be strict and manage your time. I’ve always set myself parameters that work with my job and my role as a mum. I’ve found that if I communicate these with my colleagues, people are generally respectful and accommodating.”

“My tip for people juggling a family with work, would be to identify what the boundaries are, communicate them, put them in place and stick to them! Open communication is key.”

Donna is passionate about supporting people in their roles and appreciates that it’s not just women who need support. She believes that fostering an open and honest culture in the workplace encourages colleagues to work in a way that suits them, whilst still getting the job done.

On being a woman in business, Donna believes we can all play a part in encouraging women; “Coaching is a really important part of helping to develop the talent in a business – creating role models and mentors for men and women that support and grow other people’s skills.”

“I want to encourage people to have the confidence to speak their mind – your ideas are just as valid as more senior colleagues and I wish everyone would have the confidence to share their thoughts.”

Her final words: “When I look back on my career it really was a team effort – I was supported by my managers and in turn want to now offer others that support.”

Donna Catley - HR Director