Karen Lewis

People Director, London North Eastern Railway


I am a single parent who tries very hard to balance the care of the LNER people strategy and the care of my little best pal of 8 years old. I am based in York or from home which enables me to balance these two most important parts of my life a little more than anywhere I have ever worked before. My HR career started 18 months into my working life at the end of the 1980’s as an instore ‘Personnel and Training Manager’ in the now extinct Safeway supermarket and I progressed through to Regional HR roles in food and fashion retail (Tesco, Somerfield, Iceland, Arcadia) until I took the role as Head of OD at the Cooperative Group, at the same time studying for a Master’s Degree (MSc in People and Organisational Development) at Salford University. I had completed the CIPD at the University for Central England some 3 – 4 years before, and wanted to learn more focusing on OD, which I thought at the time would be the most sought-after skill for HR Directors of the future (I think I was correct!). After qualifying, I embarked on a period of consulting and during that time was approached for my first HR Director role in 2005 at the wonderful Monsoon Accessorise brand, partnering with a fabulous CEO and Executive Team. HRD roles that then followed were with Virgin Atlantic, Gala Coral Group Ltd and Greene King before LNER.