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Meet the Judges

Wales HR Network
December 2, 2019

The 2020 Wales HR Awards will see an external panel of guest judges join us for the first time.

Here’s your chance to get familiar with our independent and impartial experts, and gain insight into what each of them will be looking for from Wales’ best in-house teams, consultants and HR industry professionals.

With decades of combined industry expertise, our judges will bring category specific skillsets to the judging process to uncover our 2020 finalists.

Rebecca Cooper, Head of HR at ACT Training

Rebecca Cooper has been Head of HR at ACT Training, Wales’ largest provider of work-based training and employing 370 staff, for 10 years. Rebecca has held numerous roles within ACT since joining in 2003.

Rebecca has achieved a lot in her current role, supporting the company to achieve a place in the Times Top 100 large companies to work for in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 & 2019 as well as retaining Investor’s in People “Gold” status for the past 6 years.

Rebecca has been there, done it and won it, receiving a Wales HR Award in 2017 for Best HR Practitioner in the Education/Public Sector.

"To build an engaged workforce giving all employees a voice is critical. Exceptional HR professionals really listen and take note of what employees on the ground believe will improve the company. After all, who knows better than those actually delivering its products and services? I’m hoping to find shining examples of these ethics among the Wales HR Award’s talent."

Gerald Kelly, Director of Professional Services at Sony

Gerald Kelly’s passion for engineering and mechanics was formed at an early age as he admits to “always being interested in how things worked”.

His curiosity led to him complete a HNC in mechanical engineering at Port Talbot College during a four-year engineering apprenticeship at BP Oil.

Since joining Sony UK TEC in 1981, Gerald has developed skills and experience across the breadth of the business before being appointed as Director of Professional Services in 2015.

He now oversees a range of departments from human resources to new business development, the quality department, compliance (EHS & Audit), corporate communications, CSR and marketing and liaising with local and government agencies. He is part of the executive leadership team at Sony UK TEC, which is in its fifth year of successive growth with record profit.

"People like people, great HR professionals excel when they have empathy with those they help and support. They also seek new ways, innovative ways of “making this place a great place to work” for all employees and all levels within the business. A working knowledge of employment law and the company policies and procedures is important, but more important is how they are interpreted and deployed.

These are just some of the things I will be looking for from the Wales HR Awards entries"

Catherine Thomas, Director of Organisational Development at the University of South Wales

Catherine is Director of Organisational Development at the University of South Wales. Based at the Pontypridd campus she is a member of the University Executive team with responsibility for Human Resources, Health and Safety and the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching.

Prior to the creation of USW in 2013, Catherine was Director of Human Resources at the University of Glamorgan, one of the two universities that merged to form USW.

Before joining the University of Glamorgan Catherine worked in the private sector, the charitable sector and Local Government.

"The Wales HR Awards is a fantastic platform to recognise the passion and professionalism of HR talent in Wales. The event will showcase the outstanding quality of work being done in this vibrant sector and it’s exciting to be on board for the judging process."

13 winners will be announced at the glittering award ceremony, including the new for 2020 HR Consultancy and Inspiring Great Leadership awards. The HR Team of the Year category has also been divided this year to recognise the achievements of both public and private sector HR teams. One winner will be awarded the coveted HR Star award to recognise their outstanding contribution to HR.

The deadline for submitting nominations is 9 December 2019. More information on the category criteria and nomination process can be found at


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