Royal Recognition | HR professionals among those named in King's New Year Honours list

HR professionals among those named in King's New Year Honours list

The 2024 New Year Honours list was recently revealed and, despite the headlines being dedicated to the plethora of celebrities receiving Knighthoods, OBEs, MBEs and more accolades, the list also revealed some inspiring news of HR professionals being recognised for their services within the people function.

From efforts in the DE&I environment, to commitments to helping recruits kickstart their careers, there was a wealth of hard work from HR leaders being recognised this year. 

‘Flying high’

Melissa Richardson, Senior Emerging Talent Manager in the Strategic Resourcing team at British Airways was awarded an MBE for Services to Early Careers in Aviation. The prestigious award recognises her outstanding efforts on British Airways’ award-winning emerging talent programmes, which provide work experience and employment opportunities for young people across the UK.

Melissa, who studied at Wrotham Secondary School in Sevenoaks, joined the airline in 2012 as an apprentice and has worked tirelessly to drive forward and promote British Airways’ emerging talent vision. She is responsible for engaging with and inspiring more than 175,000 young people to consider a career in aviation, enabling them to realise their potential and raise the profile of the airline's award-winning graduate, apprentice, business placement and work experience programmes. She has worked closely with teams from across the airline to address the skills gap and implement new early career opportunities, such as specialist graduate and apprenticeship programmes and launch a series of campaigns designed to inspire and attract future talent to the airline.

Looking for more

As part of British Airways’ ongoing commitment to recruiting future talent and providing equal opportunities to people from all backgrounds, she played a significant role in launching the airline's partnership with The Prince’s Trust earlier this year to deliver its flagship “Get into Aviation with British Airways” programme. The initiative supports young people from across London who are looking to secure a career in the industry through work experience opportunities or on one of British Airways apprenticeship programmes.

Melissa also supercharged the launch of Speedbird-Z, a dedicated student website where individuals can complete e-learning modules. Through the online platform, which has been accessed by more than 17,000 students to date, individuals can ask questions to British Airways mentors and register their interest to apply for work experience placements across the airline.

Payroll Outsourcing: Why now and how to excel

Payroll Outsourcing: Why now and how to excel

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Melissa said: “I am truly honoured and extremely humbled to have been awarded with an MBE for Services to Early Careers in Aviation. I am very lucky that my job is my passion, and I have been able to shape the lives of so many students, raising aspirations and working with young people from all walks of life over the last decade. I am excited about the opportunities this award will give me in continuing to support the next generation.”

Lisa Tremble, Chief People, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at BA, said: "I am delighted Melissa has been recognised for her outstanding contributions to our business and wider society for Services to Early Careers in Aviation. Her ongoing passion for inspiring the young people of today to consider a career in our thriving industry is infectious and she is a true inspiration to us all."

Full steam ahead with EDI efforts

Elsewhere, Ruth Busby, People and Transformation Director (Regional) for GWR and Network Rail Wales and Western, was also among the many being recognised in the HR industry, receiving an OBE for champion of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Her award ‘for services to diversity in the rail industry’ recognises not only her work within GWR and Network Rail, but the numerous other organisations she represents to help revolutionise the railway.

In January 2023, Ruth began a joint strategic role with responsibility for the HR and Internal Communications teams in both GWR and Network Rail’s Wales and Western Region.

Over the past couple of years, she has also worked with the Department for Transport, the Samaritans, and Mental Health at Work, to lead a research study on mental health and wellbeing across the rail industry.

She is also the Executive Sponsor for Rail Wellbeing Live, the biggest health and wellbeing movement in the history of the rail industry. 

As a non-executive director of the Youth Futures Foundation, Ruth also works to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds and is currently chair of its People and Culture Committee and Employer Advisory Board.

The married mother-of-two also remains a passionate supporter of Women in Rail, having previously served as co-chair of Women in Rail South.

Ruth, from Didcot, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and feel so humbled that people took the time to nominate me. We know that people are at their best when they feel valued, can be themselves and believe that their wellbeing matters. 

“The work that I and my brilliant teams have been doing has aimed to create greater equity and workforce diversity, so that we’re more representative of the communities we serve and have an environment where everyone can flourish.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with organisations and charities beyond the day job to help bring about some exciting and positive change. I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done to promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing, which is so important.”

Praise too for public sector HR

Louise Alexander, HR director at HM Courts and Tribunals Service, received an OBE for public and voluntary service.

Louise joined HM Courts & Tribunals Service from the Insolvency Service where, in her role as People and Capability Director, she had responsibilities across the HR sphere including resourcing, reward, talent, learning & development, engagement, and internal communications.

Prior to that, Louise was Deputy Director of HR at the Department of Health and before that took on the role of Head of HR for Royal Mail Operations.

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