Tell me about you and your firm and role?
Equifax creates and delivers unparalleled customised insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers through the comprehensive and differentiated data it manages, the expertise in advanced analytics it provides, the solutions it develops, and the leading-edge proprietary technology through which the solutions are delivered. The company organises, assimilates and analyses data on more than 600 million consumers and more than 80 million businesses worldwide and its databases include more than 200 million employee files.
Equifax has operations in the US and 18 other countries in Europe, Asia and South America. The company employs 7,000 employees worldwide. In the past year, Equifax was named a “top 20 company to work for” by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
My current role is VP of HR for the UK and Ireland. Twenty-four hours after running the 2014 London Marathon, I stepped on a plane to Canada – bound for our Toronto office on an eight-month international secondment. The initial focus was to support the general manager and lead the hiring of 4 key executive positions.
Are the UK and Canada very different?
In terms of Equifax, both the UK and Canada are similar in revenue and people headcount, excluding any of our recent acquisitions. The market is quite similar: Canada has one main competitor, whereas the UK has two. Equifax Canada is the dominant bureau, particularly in the Banking and FI vertical where it holds a strong position with the majority of the larger banks like Toronto-Dominion and Bank of Montreal. Moving from a region that was pushing hard to gain market share to one that already had a large market share gave me a different lens to look through.
What were the key challenges you were tasked with?
Our overall approach to employee communications. The Canadian team were impressed with our UK communications approach, our e-newsletter, ‘We’re the Difference’, and our adoption of Yammer. I feel I was able to support the team in taking some tried-and-tested approaches from the UK and rolling them out in Canada.
Conversely, one of the things I was particularly impressed by was the Canadian approach to wellness and wellbeing. They are committed to doing something new every month, whether it’s a talk on healthy eating and cooking, or a massage. I am looking to do something similar in the UK because I would be able to experience first-hand how engaged the employees were with the approach and its content.
Whats Toronto like?
It’s very much like London: multi-cultural, has its own subway system, plenty to see and do, great places to eat and lovely people. It has lots of European neighbourhoods with Italians, Greeks and Russians particularly well-represented. I would also like to go back for the Toronto Film Festival each year!
I learned what it meant when someone suggested I “join the rush line” and did some celebrity-spotting, seeing Denzel Washington, Al Pacino and Steve Carrell.
What have you learnt from your role?
It was fantastic to work with so many amazing people and to have the experience of living and working in another country for eight months. It’s important for anyone looking to undertake an international secondment, to visit in advance or invest some initial time in researching places to live. Getting set up in the right neighbourhood is key to enjoying the experience and cultural diversity that living in another international city can bring. As an HR professional, it’s also been great to understand first-hand the challenges and benefits (both personally and for the organisation), of taking an international assignment. It helps me to better articulate and coach those leaving my region and those coming in.
On a personal note, this experience has made me want more out of my job and life, so I am ready for the next exciting, international challenge and would certainly like to put to the test everything I learned and experienced in Canada.
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