01 April 2019
(The following article is based on the full interview by Sonja Grimes which appears in the current issue of HR Director Magazine).
Well-known brand MoneySuperMarket.com – which started life in 1993 as a mortgage listings company and which today is part of a FTSE 250 index group employing over 700 people including Queen’s graduate Caoimhe Keogan (née Campbell) – is a successful business aimed at helping people save money.
Through three leading brands – MoneySuperMarket, MoneySavingExpert and TravelSupermarket – the Moneysupermarket Group provides their customers with the services, tools and products they need to make savings and grow their money.
Caoimhe Keogan, who graduated from Queen’s with a BSc in Psychology in 1999 and an MSc in Occupational Psychology the following year, joined the Group as Chief People Officer in January 2018. Prior to that she was Senior Vice President of People, Places and Community at SoundCloud and before that held senior HR business roles at Google.
Speaking to Sonja Grimes in the current issue of HR Director Magazine Caoimhe said: “I studied psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, followed by a Master’s in occupational psychology.
“I graduated in 2000, and it was then a case of looking for a graduate placement and, to my surprise, it was great timing because employers were really beginning to open themselves up to the influence of occupational psychology, so my choice of subject proved well-founded.”
Caoimhe’s first full-time job was at KPMG where she worked for a year and a half on a variety of HR and organisational change projects across Northern Ireland.
In 2002, she moved to Deloitte, which at the time had been awarded a contract to provide an outsourced recruitment service for recently-established Police Service of Northern Ireland, which came about on the back of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Deloitte was building a team of occupational psychologists to design a robust assessment process for police officers, that minimised bias and could stand up to significant political oversight,” Caoimhe told Sonja Grimes. “I joined and was involved in the project for over five years, working on some really innovative and ground-breaking approaches, to deliver a more diverse candidate pool.”
Around the same time, Caoimhe spent a year in London on a technology-led transformation programme in the Department of Work and Pensions, which indirectly lead to her joining the European base of Google in Dublin, where she stayed for 5 years ending up as Senior HR Business partner.
“My time at Google really shaped my thinking about data-informed decision-making, and the importance of people analytics. I also loved how they often turned traditional HR wisdom on its head, because the data showed otherwise.
“There is a lot of talk about Google’s culture and the way that it engages talent and, in my experience, this was the first place I worked where I felt I could truly bring my whole self to work. Hierarchy was less valued, good ideas were what mattered and there was a culture of colleagues holding leadership to account and a willingness to openly discuss difficult issues in front of the whole company. My time there was well spent.”
In 2013, shortly after her second child was born Caoimhe joined digital music start-up SoundCloud, which involved a relocation to Berlin, and from where she led the company’s People Team – her first real taste of being around the top leadership table.
A desire for a role with a more established business offering more stability - located closer to her family in Northern Ireland – took Caoimhe back to the UK where she joined MoneySuperMarket in 2018.
“I’m a purpose-driven person and I love consumer businesses. Finances are tight for so many families in the UK and a business that makes money when people save money is a great place to have an impact. Add to that a real commitment from the team to transform the culture at MSMG, to make it more inclusive and innovative, and I knew it was a great next role for me.”
Asked to reflect on her career to date, Caoimhe said: “When it comes to decision-making about my career I was once advised to make the decision based upon the company rather than the role – to worry less about the job title or remit and focus much more on the company, what it was doing and what the culture was like.
“I continue to think that is great advice.”
Caoimhe Keogan is Chief People Officer at Moneysupermarket Group
Photo credit: HR Director Magazine