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Melanie Birch
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Head of Employee RelationsBritish Airways, London
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Catering Graduate Scheme, British Airways, London

A 2-year project looking at business issues it involved building relationships, research and testing solutions. I worked in New York for 2 months, we changed catering suppliers and managed the relationship with the supplier who lost our business. It was exciting, I learnt so much and realised I wanted a job that involved managing people and the operation. I received an Award of Excellence, something I’ll always treasure. I also managed a department within the long-haul catering unit and often got stuck in, loading food trolleys onto aircraft a great way to experience the challenges faced by colleagues.

Longhaul Catering Executive - Heathrow,British Airways, London

BA sold their catering operations at Heathrow and I was part of a team of three people who managed the new contractor's performance. Ensuring that the quality of the food product being supplied to our customers was as per the specification that has been agreed between us. I had to hold regular performance review meetings and resolve day to day issues involving the quality of our product. I did regular visits to the aircraft where I would check the quality of the product once it was on-board.

Manpower Planner, British Airways, London

I managed the flying schedule, so we had enough people to depart and receive aircrafts at Heathrow. I created a plan, so we had the right people, at the right time, in the right place for the year ahead and finance worked out how much that was going to cost. It was important that my plans were accurate, I analysed data and was creative to get a cost-effective solution. My team implemented a significant change in the way that we planned and supplied resources to the business, enabling a robust, transparent and agile approach to matching our supply and demand.

Customer Service Manager,British Airways, London

I managed the terminal operation to ensure that we were delivering the best customer service standards. There was a different challenge every day related to customers, colleagues or the operation. I had a large team, 400, and learnt so much from talented, passionate people. I also worked with the trade unions, a significant challenge, but something that I continue to do today. I was involved in efficiency negotiations which led to significant savings for the business. I also led the introduction of a system that allocated colleagues to different tasks, something that had previously been done using pen and paper.

Manager Resource Delivery, British Airways, London

My first Senior management role, responsible for the long and short-term resource planning and delivery for the Heathrow terminal operation. This job was a hugely challenging role for me I progressed to a bigger role, had a new team and kept responsibility for the Trade Union relationship. Although I was now directly accountable for managing the operation I was accountable for making sure that we had the right people in the right place at the right time, a huge responsibility. I learned even more about finance, analysis and also managing relationships with more senior people in the organisation.

Manager Customer Operation - Heathrow, British Airways, London

Responsible for delivering outstanding customer service in the 3 terminals at Heathrow, with a team of 3000. Some things were within my control such as making sure we had the right people in the right place at the right time, but some weren’t such as bad weather. I had the responsibilities of my previous role and a significant budget to manage. We changed our management organisation to focus on customers and colleagues and had to consult with the trade unions. There was also a lot of stakeholder management both internally within BA and externally with companies like Heathrow Airport Limited.

Manager EuroFleet Cabin Crew, British Airways, London

Managed 2,500 cabin crew who fly on our short-haul routes. I had a management team of 30. There were on-going efficiency challenges and t long-standing industrial agreements to deal with so implementing change was difficult. Colleagues hardly ever spent time in head office, so it was difficult to build relationships. My team and I ran engagement days every day during the week I welcomed every team member to the day and returned later to discuss business issues and talk about the challenges and opportunities we face. I also worked to improve crew meals, making them healthier and more appetising.

Head of Employee Relations
British Airways, London

My first role in the HR department, I lead the wellbeing and diversity and inclusion agenda for the company, colleague engagement and industrial relations. I work with other business areas to deliver change, offer expert advice and lead consultations with the trade unions. Data-analysis and risk-analysis are important, so change is delivered in a responsible way. I’m responsible for developing, negotiating and changing policies, colleague wellbeing and engagement (I lead campaigns such as mental health and cancer awareness) and the colleague value proposition all are critical to successful businesses. I also manage challenging situations e.g. industrial action.

Air Transport

I have always been open to learning and take genuinely interested in people whether colleagues or customers. The skills I learnt at school and uni have supported me in all of my roles in one way or another so I am pleased that I worked hard to gain my 2:1 grade. I have never been afraid to work hard and strongly believe that you get out what you put in, so hard work will pay off. Some jobs have been more interesting than others but every role has enabled me to progress and take valuable skills with me.

My Education
Food and Nutrition (Degree with Honours (BSc Hons))
Huddersfield University
English Language, Mathematics, Physical Education, PE, Sociology, Food technology
Westholme School, Blackburn
More about me

From an early age I always loved flying away on holiday and once I had completed my Industrial Placement with BA I knew I needed to return.

More IT so I was more equipped for the use of technology and digital. This is needed for most jobs in most industries today.

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