Five minutes with: Ben Turner, HR Director at Well Pharmacy

Five minutes with: Ben Turner, HR Director at Well Pharmacy

Ben Turner, the newly-appointed HR Director at Well Pharmacy, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy chain, chats to us about his past, present and future.

How does it feel to be made permanent?

It’s a real privilege to get my first HRD role, especially in a company like Well that is in the process of transforming how we operate and focusing on how we can become even more customer-focused during a very difficult time in community pharmacy.

I’m lucky to be part of such a supportive team, working alongside the executive team and the HR leadership team.

There are challenges ahead for the industry, but we have a clear and compelling vision so I’m looking forward to developing our people plans to help deliver this successfully.

Do you have any lessons you want to share from your time at One Stop and Tesco?

I’ve had the benefit of a real breadth of experience in a business with many similar challenges, such as: seeking the most efficient operating model; changing markets; and colleagues clustered in small store teams around the UK. I draw on this experience to enable me to make a real difference to all of our Well colleagues across the UK.

Increasing our commerciality is a real opportunity for us here at Well and this was recognised as a strength of mine in my previous business, so I’m full of ideas on how we can engage our employees on this and become radically customer-centric. 

I’ve learned the critical importance of attracting, developing and retaining great managers. With great managers at every level, everything from then onwards becomes so much easier!

Great managers build great teams - they recruit great people, provide great service, manage performance excellently, drive engagement scores and develop our future talent - so focusing on management capability will be key to our continued success.

What challenges do you expect in your new role?

We face new challenges every day right now. Much of this is outside of our direct control, as the industry tries to cope with funding cuts and establish new ways of working with the NHS for the best patient outcomes.

I’m determined that we focus all of our energies on challenges and opportunities that are in our control, which includes: continuing to build on our strong engagement scores; improving our customer focus even further; driving our performance culture; our workforce and succession planning; our talent development and overall management capability.

I’m really passionate about how we become much more proactive in our thinking and actions across all HR disciplines. Like many HR functions, we currently spend a significant amount of energy reacting to events and requests. I’d like to change this so we are adding even more value and proactively meeting the needs of the business now and in the future.

Other ongoing challenges include how we continue to manage our approach to the Living Wage and also how we get the most out of the new apprenticeship levy. Both are recent additions to most HRD to-do lists I would imagine, and it’s important that we get this right for our employees.

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