Meet Karen: Our New Group Human Resources (HR) Manager

Meet Karen: Our New Group Human Resources (HR) Manager

At Stretchline, our people are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we always strive to maintain operational excellence when it comes to our people processes.

We’re delighted to welcome Karen Birch to the Stretchline team as Group HR Manager. She will support the Group HR function by working closely with all countries to ensure consistent processes and policies are implemented. In addition, her role will involve developing talent across the group.

Karen will directly oversee the HR function in both Stretchline UK and US and support the local teams with their HR needs.

We caught up with her to say hello, and she told us all about her plans for the new role.

What are your key objectives for this new role?

I will focus on supporting the leadership team in driving the people agenda. Our USP is our people, which sets us apart from our competitors. Our goal is to create an environment where all colleagues can thrive and build on the solid foundation of our incredible business.

Tell us more about your background and previous experiences…

I’ve been in HR for 25 years, working in various industries. I spent over ten years at Sainsbury’s, where I gained a wealth of experience and skills. I am most proud of leading my region’s Diversity and Inclusion agenda and opening several large investments. As part of the Argos acquisition, I also had the opportunity to work in Hong Kong and China.

These opportunities prepared me for my previous role at Flogas, where I was the Head of HR. Through this role, I played a key role in developing the HR strategy, particularly the rollout of the people plan.

How does your previous experience contribute to your new role?

As someone who has worked internationally in several industries, I have experience working with people from around the world. I believe this enables me to assist with some of the challenges we are currently facing. I will be responsible for ensuring we have robust succession plans and can drive performance through an engaged workforce as competition for talent intensifies.

Having worked in both large and small organisations, I can work strategically and operationally to ensure the work we do is fit for purpose and adds value.

What do you think is the most important leadership skill?

I believe that authenticity is one of the most important leadership skills. It shows your true values and allows you to lead with purpose. As an authentic leader, you can quickly build strong relationships with a foundation of trust.

What are you most looking forward to over the next few months?

I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the business – getting to know the people, understanding what makes our business tick, understanding the challenges our leaders face, and working together to drive business improvement through our people.

On a personal note, my sister is getting married at the end of September, so I’m very much looking forward to the whole family being together for such a special occasion!

We hope you’ll join us in warmly welcoming Karen to Stretchline. We look forward to seeing her use her skills and fresh ideas to make our HR processes better than ever.

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