Berwick Partners & PwC Annual HR Director Dinner: “What a CEO really needs from their HR Director”

Published: 6 November 2015

Berwick Partners’ and PwC were delighted to recently host a selection of senior leaders and influencers from the North West HR Community. Great John Street Hotel in Manchester provided the perfect setting for an informative discussion lead by our guest host, Wilf Walsh, CEO of Carpetright Plc.

Wilf has worked in a diverse mix of businesses across music, gaming and retail, in the UK and internationally. All of this expertise combined provides a wealth of experience on which to draw. In addition to this Wilf has operated in both CEO and HR Director roles so truly understood our topic for the evening: “What a CEO really needs from their HR Director”.

Key points that came out of the evening’s discussion included the following:

In the current market it is essential to focus on reward and recognition. However it is also important to understand its impact on the rest of business. This part of the role requires the HR Director to fully understand the numbers and get to know the P&L.

A HR Director must think like a Marketing Director to understand and influence the employer brand. It is important to ensure the organisation can attract and hire the required talent, talent that should also represent the company’s target market.

It is essential, in any business, that employees receive feedback both positive and negative and have clear direction. Therefore, having a HR Director who is able to support and coach the leadership team with regards to performance management is essential.

Most importantly, hire nice talented people and look after them! It is the HR Directors role to represent the people. They must challenge ‘difficult’ behaviours and offer commercial and informed, people focused strategies to CEO’s and CFO’s.

Wilf also discussed his journey from HR to CEO over the last 15 years and was able to provide an honest insight into the essential requirements a HRD needs in order to progress into either a CEO or NED role:

1. Ensuring you have a varied background will certainly provide you with a deeper understanding of your employee group and provide you with the ability to build credibility.

2. Look at posts overseas, within various sectors and consider secondments outside of HR.

3. To guarantee you are making informed decisions ensure you are financially savvy or look into developing your expertise within this area through training. Overall the debate was insightful and Berwick Partners look forward to hosting follow up events for the HR community.

The event was hosted by Leanne Adair and Debbie Sutton in our HR Practice and supported by Alex Richardson who is based in Manchester and a consultant in our IT Leadership Practice.

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