HR & Change Director
Published: 22nd September 2017
What made you choose a career in HR?
I didn’t follow the traditional educational route and did a degree in Politics and Psychology and an MSc in HR during my mid 20s. My dissertation focused on the extent to which equal opportunity legislation had achieved what it set out to – the rationale being that nothing substantive occurs without addressing the required behavioural changes. This still fascinates me and is relevant in my day-to-day work, twenty years later. Do not send an email and expect change.
What experiences or lessons have shaped your view of what good people practices should look like?
Prior to working in HR I gained experience in Sales, Marketing, Hospitality (the list is longer). Like all good Leaders, I have gained most from learning from my mistakes. Also, choosing role models – both good and bad – how to be and how not to be.
From a technical perspective, spending 7 years as Management Consultant with KPMG taught me leading practice and how to communicate with impact at C-level.
What’s the best thing about your job?
In my new role, I am thrilled to be able to make an immediate impact in a fast paced organisation, without the layers of bureaucracy and treacle stifling some larger organisations. Based in Leeds, I’m also enjoying sleeping in my own bed and not spending several hours a week on Virgin trains or flights. For the first time in my career, I feel I am able to be both the employee and parent I aspire to be.
What do you think are the key strengths that make an outstanding HR professional?
My first response is self-awareness and constructive challenge, but this isn’t restricted to HR. I believe you need the right blend of knowing your stuff, getting things done and people wanting to work with you (technical prowess, results delivery and interpersonal skills).
What do you think the future of HR looks like over the next 10 years?
Change is the only constant may sound trite, but it’s a reality. Customer and Employee insights should be equal in terms of investment and focus for an Executive team. Learning from current behaviour, predicting the future and developing strategy to address. Whether its HR or not, there needs to be a champion for both the Employee and the Customer contributing to strategic thinking.
Adding value at a global scale and understanding how to build global high performing teams, will also be increasingly crucial. I’m not clear on what the implications of Brexit will be for UK employers, HR and employment legislation but I don’t believe I’m on my own there.
How much has technology changed HR over the last 5 years?
I haven’t worked (yet) at an organisation that has got this spot on, but I think this is due to the nature of the organisations I gravitate towards (in turn-around mode). For organisations with a huge change agenda, managing the tension between delivering the commercials and creating a stable infrastructure is a tricky balance.
Obviously, where technology acts an enabler that allows HR to add insight rather than be a data manager is the ultimate goal. To my earlier point, we should be deploying marketing techniques to really understand our employees, their needs and likely future behaviour.