Everyone knows the brand Virgin – whether you’re the person who used to shop in Virgin records, you fly or cruise with Virgin, you use Virgin Media or bank with Virgin Money. As Chief People Officer for Virgin Group, Nikki Humphrey is part of a huge worldwide team working under core values of family, heartfelt service and being ‘delightfully surprising’. She shares her learnings and experience, and looks to the future of changing ideas, ideals and sterotypes in business and the workforce.
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I'm the Chief People Officer at Virgin Group, and I joined last summer, so I've been here over a year. And before that, for the last 11 or 12 years, I've held a number of either Chief People Officer roles or equivalent, starting at Lloyds Banking Group. Then I moved across to Virgin Atlantic where really I started my journey and love for Virgin about six or seven years ago, before a short stint in John Lewis for a couple of years and then I was enticed back to the Virgin family. I'm not the first, I think they call us Boomerangers - essentially there's quite a number of people that work across what we call our Virgin family that start in maybe one Virgin company, often go elsewhere and then come back either to same business or to a different Virgin company. So I'm definitely not the first to do it. And often because it's just the pull of how Virgin is. My current role is a new role. And it's a great opportunity to be part of Virgin Group where we work really closely with all the other Virgin companies. The priority of my role is to look after the people agenda for Virgin Group, and that means leading my people and communications team, as well as also working really closely and facilitating how we all work together as a network of Chief People Officers across the other Virgin companies as well. I help pull us together and share best practice, try and join up on particular initiatives, because the biggest thing we have in common is that we’re all Virgin businesses.
For me, the coolness is the disruptive nature of the brand. Richard set up his first business in the late 1960s, 1967 doing the student magazine, and it's fair to say with all of his different initiatives and businesses he's involved in, the core of it has been about being disruptive, being innovative, trying to do things differently, but always putting our customers first. And, so actually, that kind of alignment with often the experience with Virgin can be the customer experience, but it's very closely aligned with the people that we have in our business that go and create that really amazing experience for our customers. That's a real positive because we just have such close alignment and we have really clear brand values that all of our Virgin companies work to so things about, you know, heartfelt service, being delightfully surprising, living together as a family. And so we have really clear brand values that it doesn’t matter if you're Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Money, Virgin Media, you are trying to create and live up to those brand values. And then that makes it a lot easier to go and say ‘okay for our people, how do we need to show up to go and create that experience?’