As we aspired to double earnings per share from the end of 2010 to the end of 2015, it became clear we needed someone to do group-wide strategic HR.
My job has a remit to set direction for the group and manage to that plan to ensure we have the capacity, skills and operational tools necessary for the scale of growth planned.
The key focus is on leadership and management. As the group becomes larger and more complex, we need more capability in these areas. We are starting a programme to accelerate development and identifying people ready to move up to the next level of leadership. A lot of our business opportunities are lateral with existing clients so our training programmes take people from core leadership skills to working across the business. It is a challenge balancing the group requirement and the practical needs of the individuals in their current roles. We use a blend of internal resources and people that help us develop the programmes – most of the design work is done internally.
Another big area for me is culture and values – in this fast-developing business, having a unifying culture is extremely powerful.
The challenges ahead are mainly associated with talent and skills. As the economy picks up, a lot of organisations that have been operating leanly will need to judge how to support the change with a slender structure. Where will the skills come from?
We need to make sure we have people that can support organisational change; this means training and we may also need to recruit people with change management capability.
In general, the HR profession is getting harder; the demands are getting more complex. But this brings an opportunity. If you operate at that level it is a chance to be involved in forming the strategy of the business.