What does today’s CEO want from their HRD?

Published: 23 November 2016

On Thursday 17th November Berwick Partners brought together senior HR leaders from across the Midlands, in the beautiful surroundings of Hampton Manor, to discuss the evolving relationship between the CEO and HR Director. 

We were delighted guest speaker Paul Thandi, CEO of NEC Group, could join us to share his insight on this topic.  Since becoming CEO of The NEC Group in October 2006, Paul has rebuilt the company’s individual brands and reputation, created a new senior management team and transformed the Group into a data-led organisation.  In 2015, Paul headed up the £307m management buyout of the NEC Group to the Private Equity business LDC.  He is an incredibly respected figure in the region and he shared his approach both to business and more specifically working with his HR Director. 

Paul’s approach is honest and inspiring.  He spoke passionately about agreeing expectations with staff to deliver, giving them permission to do their jobs and if necessary making the occasional mistake.  He believes his role as CEO is not to get in the way but to surround himself with experts and enable them to do their jobs. 

Paul was very candid about what he wants from his HR Director:

  • Someone to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear and what he doesn’t know.  Be honest about risk factors and be the ears on the ground about what the business is feeling. 

  • They must care about the people and care about them more than he does.  His job is to run the business and the HRD’s job is care for the people.  He needs to know they care.

  • They need to know the numbers both of the business and also the people; how are they made up and why it works. 

  • They must be externally networked to know what the external market is doing, what competitors are doing and what the next generation is doing.

  • Someone who can tell him what they should be doing tomorrow.  Be aware of the new technology coming through, new ways of working and new expectations from staff. 

  • Compliance and hygiene factors. He needs a HR Director who will keep him out of trouble, be proactive on risk factors but also someone who will give him options and let him take the chosen path.

Between courses the each table discussed current HR trends and challenges in a confidential forum ranging from how to approach millennials, the impact of Brexit, improving gender diversity particularly within manufacturing and engineering businesses, internal communication during business transformation to working with an ever growing transgender community.  

It was a positive and engaging event where HR Directors took the opportunity to catch up with ex-colleagues and make new connections for the future.  We look forward to continuing to host similar events.

If you are interested in attending future events of this nature please contact Jane Firth, Consultant in the HR Practice.

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