DUPLO AND ITS PEOPLE: from Part time Receptionist to HR Director


In January 1992, Judy Thomson started her Duplo career as a Part Time Receptionist, having been recommended for the role by a friend and has worked with in various sales teams within the business (Export, Partner Business, Channel) and found her home in HR, where she’s worked for the last nineteen years of her twenty seven year Duplo career. Today, Judy is not only a Director of the business, but head of HR.

Tell us about your Duplo Journey

I started as a Part time Receptionist, when my eldest son was little and then went on to work in the Export team, handling sales support and attending the big exhibitions, such as CeBIT, Drupa & IPEX. I then moved over to help grow the Print Vendor business with Phil Simmonds (yes, the one that’s just returned to Duplo!) and helped to build up the Xerox business through demonstrations, open houses and exhibitions. This was hard work, long days, but great fun. I then moved across to my favourite role within Duplo, which was working with Mr Cliff Blackborrow and Tony Hills in the dealer division, now known as Channel. I was taught by Cliff the “master” on how to demonstrate the products and was always attending open houses and exhibitions. I loved that role and was good at it, so Robin thought it would be a really good idea for me to go on the road selling directly!

I lasted 4 months !! But let me say though that I made one sale and that was to the London Borough of Harrow, but I hated the role!!  I have so much respect for our sales guys, it was a lonely and tough world out there!

Then came my HR journey. In my previous life I’d worked in HR, so when the P/T HR assistant came up, I jumped at it. That was in 2000. I did my CIPD at college in the evenings and gained my qualification and the rest as they say, is history.

I think my history with the company makes me more empathic and understanding of the struggles encountered on a day to day basis, there isn’t much in life either professionally or personally that hasn’t touched me.

What makes your job exciting?

I’m not sure I’d say my job is exciting, it’s challenging, and every day is different. I learn all the time, no 2 processes are the same when you are dealing with people, the laws change all the time, you must try & stay ahead of the game.  

Describe a day/week in the life of HR DIRECTOR?

Every day/week is different, it depends on what the focus is and who needs support, coaching or mentoring. For example, in the last few weeks, my time has been taken up with a recruitment drive and I’ve been focused on finding the right people for the right roles. This takes a lot of time and patience and there are days that you just want to throw in the towel and sometimes think “we’ll never find the right person” and as Duplo does at least 3 interviews (apparently Apple do 8!), so it’s a huge investment of everyone’s time.

My team develop, advise and implement policies within Duplo and generally try to find a way to keep everyone happy. Each day, we strive to help people meet the goals to create their pathway to success. Making sure that our greatest asset, our people, are in the right positions at the right time, delivering their KPI’s with all the training and support they require.

What is the hardest part of your role?

The emotional side….

How much have you changed as a professional and personally since joining Duplo?

Being here 27 years, there have been lots of changes on both sides. I’m a true believer in the quote of “life is a roller coaster, sometimes you’re at the top feeling good, other times you’re heading for the bottom feeling completely out of control”.

Life is full of things that are hard to handle, but we get through them and learn from them.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give to a young school leaver starting their first role on how to impress HR?

?? Be smart, be smiley, be yourself.


Use three words to best describe yourself?                                 Fun, kind, stubborn!

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be?           Primary School Teacher

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?                           Somewhere hot & sunny by the beach.

What’s your favourite film:                                                           Titanic, Top Gun, Mamma Mia  (I’m an old romantic!!)

What really makes you angry?                                                    Unkindness, unfairness, bullying.

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