Leadership spotlight: Director of People & Property Services

In this series we will hear from the Senior Leadership Team at Three about the latest activity across the company and a little about the people behind the projects.


Vital stats

  • Name: Neil Barrell
  • Job title: Director of People & Property Services
  • Function: People
  • Tenure: 5 years 6 months

Tell us a bit about your background


I’ve spent virtually all my career in roles linked to HR. I started out in pensions management and then enjoyed several years heading up the European benefits outsourcing business for one of the leading HR consulting firms. I moved into financial services just after the crash in 2008, where I led several large-scale HR programmes in the UK and the US. I then joined Three in 2015 to head up their People & Property Services team and support the company growth strategy.


Describe your role in a nutshell


The scope of my leadership role extends across Resourcing, People Services (including our first contact resolution team, “People Assist”), Employee Relations & Policy, People Systems and Workspace. Everything we do is geared towards trying to make people tasks and experiences easy and effective, so the business can maximise time spent focused on the customer.


Whether it be supporting a line manager hiring a new employee, developing policy and processes to support people through their journey at Three, providing enabling systems to support quality performance conversations, giving advisory health & safety guidance, or ensuring that the lights turn on every morning when we open a store – it’s all about trying to make it as easy as possible for everybody.


What is the main ambition of your team this year?


We have a lot going on at the moment, so there’s a few headlines I’d call out.

  • Firstly, we’ve just closed the application window for our first full UK graduate intake. We received more than 4,000 applications for 33 graduate positions, so supporting the business with hiring the best of them is one.
  • Secondly, supporting our people through the consultation process and then with an expected return to offices later in the year. Aligning that to our new hybrid ways of working, recognising that there’s a still a high likelihood of COVID restrictions being in play (e.g., social distancing provisions) and throwing a new Head Office into the mix is a huge focus for us!
  • Most of all though, my main ambition for the team is to see them get back together in the same place at the same time, so I can properly recognise them for everything they’ve done to support our business during the past 12 months. All my team have played a vital role in supporting our people and workspaces through COVID and equally, for some, supporting people impacted by Brexit. There’s a lot of unsung heroes amongst them and having been fortunate enough to lead some great teams over my career, they’re “right up there with the best of them.”


We have recently signed the lease to Green Park – the new Head Office space for our Maidenhead and Reading colleagues. What is the significance of this for the future of Three UK?


It’s both significant and very exciting. Green Park gives us a fantastic opportunity to accelerate several of the objectives we have as a business. The timing of our lease end dates in both Maidenhead and Reading meant that we were already thinking about the future long before COVID became part of our daily lives, and Green Park’s impact on our plans, particularly for both the way we work in the future and our stated commitments to the environment, will be significant. Being able to fit out a building with a “blank canvas” to align to our brand and the future needs of our people is a fabulous opportunity, and Green Park itself has “excellent” accredited status under BREEAM, the world’s most established method of assessing and certifying the sustainability of buildings, which we will capitalise on. If we can end the year with people saying they’re proud to work for Three and a large part of that can be attributed to the office environment we’ve created for them, then that’s a great result from my perspective.


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