Niall Cluley: Global HR Director at Fitness First discusses triumphs and challenges


I was absolutely delighted to welcome Niall Cluley, Global HR Director, to the latest Engage HR Forum, which, with over 30 had the highest attendance yet. Word is getting out!  I’ve had some fantastic feedback from everyone, so we know we’re doing this right and our attendees are really getting something very special out of our forums.


Whilst our guests enjoyed fresh fruit, croissants, coffee – and a cheeky bacon bap or two, Niall talked candidly about how he first joined Fitness First 5 years ago as global head of talent, after initially approaching the CEO as a member, when he became frustrated with the group who he saw as focusing more on sales than service.  Niall led the development of the organisation’s people strategy through its global rebrand and transformation programme; becoming Global HRD 2 years ago.


During his presentation, which was peppered with impromptu questions and discussions from our guests, Niall talked about how the rise of the low-cost gym, and ‘wearable’ technology – such as the fitbit and other fitness apps – has affected the way gyms have had to think about how they procure and retain members.


Not afraid to open up about all aspects and challenges faced in his role, Niall discussed the frustrations involved in spearheading a global re-brand across different countries with extreme geographical and cultural diversities; all of which affected decisions on the brand logo, aspirational slogans, and uniform.


Rounding up the forum, our resident solicitor, Malcolm Scott Walby, briefly discussed the importance of the human aspect in being a good boss, and how getting to know your employees on a personal level can help you understand and iron out any issues in the workplace well before legal action is required.


As I said previously, I continue to have the most fantastic feedback after our HR Forums, and so I’ll leave you with some of those quotes and a reminder that, these forums are about you, the HR leaders that make your company or business run smoothly from behind the scenes, and so please do not hesitate to get in touch and discuss any subjects which you feel we could be covering which will help you in your job.


Resize_Niall Cluley“Informal, informative, open debate and genuine interest in learning and sharing experiences.  Well organised, a lovely group of people, topped off by a great choice of breakfast snacks.” Niall Cluley, Global HR Director, Fitness First.

“The most recent meeting presenting by Niall Cluley, Gloval HR Diurector of Fitness first, was a great example of how HR can successfully drive and enable change in an organisation. The talk was informal and participative, and as always from these events, I walked away feeling inspired to consider how some of these work practices could be translated into my own HR processes in the future.” – Andrea Finnagin, Data Harvesting.

“Great HR forum run by Engage at The Cliff in Canford Cliffs.  One of the best networking events for HR professionals, or those responsible for HR in their business, in the area.  The last event saw Niall Cluley from Fitness First talk us through the change program undertaken over the last 18 months – the highs and lows and how they got engagement from the team.” – Sue Kerr, Reality HR.


Date for your diary

Our next HR Forum is on 22nd September, where our guest speaker, Jo Kane from Trailblazers will be presenting on resilience, mind-sets and stress management.  As this is a vast subject, we are keen to hear from you what you would like Jo to concentrate on, so please do get in touch.


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HR Forum: Sandra Attrill from House of Colour

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We are delighted to announce that our next HR Forum will feature Sandra Attrill, a leading personal stylist with House of Colour, who will be sharing great tips on how to make that first impression count.

The use of colour and knowing how to dress for you and your lifestyle can have an amazing impact and take the stress out of ‘what am I going to wear today?’  Whether you are dressing for the boardroom, networking or presenting, your clothes speak volumes!

Sandra will take you on a House of Colour journey, that for her, transformed her world from neutral to colour, and frumpy to fab!

Sandra has helped hundreds of clients – men and women – gain confidence in what they wear and to save time and money when they shop.

We look forward to welcoming you on 10th December at The Cliff, Ravine Road, Canford Cliffs, Poole BH13 7HX.  8.30am to start at 9am and finish at 11am.

As always, Malcolm Scott Walby will also be with us to answer your HR related legal queries.



Engage Welcomes Malcolm Scott Walby as our HR Forum Legal Expert

Sally Bennett Engage Executive JobsWe are thrilled to announce that Malcolm Scott Walby of Scott Walby LLP will be attending our exclusive HR Forums as our legal expert in order to answer all your legal queries regarding HR and business law.  For those who know Malcolm, you will no doubt be delighted with this addition to our forums, and look forward to him imparting his no-nonsense, straight talking, professional wisdom at our events.

We are particularly delighted that Malcolm has agreed to come on-board as our first HR Forum was such a success with feedback commenting on how the Engage event was unique in it’s relaxed, friendly ‘get to know you’ approach, and a ‘meeting of minds’ not usually experienced at events such as these.  With comments such as these, we know Malcolm is the perfect legal expert to compliment the Engage HR Forum ethos.

Malcolm will also be keeping us up to date on changes in the world of law which may affect your organisation, via regular blog posts here on the Engage website.

When asked to comment on being approached by Sally to participate in the Engage HR Forums, and provide an introductory blog post and bio, Malcolm’s charm and candour shone through – so over to Malcolm…..

mscottwalbySally: Hi Malcolm, I’d like you to speak at our HR Forum on the subject of Emotional Intelligence.

Malcolm: What!!!

Sally: You know … Emotional Intelligence.

Malcolm: Yes, of course, only joking… [checks definition on internet].

Malcolm: Actually, on the basis that finding and retaining good people is a lot more tough than just sacking someone, emotional intelligence to read how to keep an employee motivated, loyal and happy is probably the most important skill.  Funnily enough, every HR specialist is supposed to have been born with this skill, as it is not actually taught. It’s not just about money.  So how many HR specialists have had this comment thrown at them: “How did you know she was going to say that?”  Experience?  Awareness?  Just knowing that is what anyone would feel like in the same situation and generally treating people like people, not just like numbers.


Malcolm Scott Walby – white, male, middle-aged and likes dogs and horses. Also, ex-Royal Naval officer, ex-lorry-driver, ex-oil exploration permit officer, ex-cocktail waiter in Hawaii.  Has worked as a Solicitor, HR Director and Managing Director of various businesses since 1992.

However, there is always a new experience round the corner and we never quite know what to expect, do we?


 Thanks, Malcolm!  We look forward to seeing you at the next Engage HR Forum on 21st May.