“What does today’s CEO really need from their HR Director?’’

Published: 18 May 2015

Berwick Partners’ were delighted to host an intimate round table dinner event on the evening of Tuesday 12th May in our London HQ, bringing together HR Directors from the Retail and Consumer sectors to explore the evolving relationship between CEO and HRD. 

What makes this relationship most effective and what does a CEO really need? Key themes centred on what CEOs consider when seeking their HR partner and how can you best enhance this working relationship to gain maximum impact for your business and its people?  

Our guest host and speaker for the evening was Wilf Walsh, CEO of Carpet Right Plc.  As a recognised transformer of retail and commercial businesses, Wilf has operated in both CEO and HR Director roles. He has also gained a vast range of experience working in the retail, betting and gaming, and entertainment sectors across the UK and Internationally.  All of this expertise combined, provides a wealth of experience on which to draw.

Wilf shared a broad range of thoughts and perspectives on what makes this relationship effective. Wilf discussed his 15 years in HR roles and the critical requirements, in his view, to being a truly credible strategic member of the senior team:

  • Regardless of your HR specialism, being able to read, interpret and understand a P&L is essential. This is a core factor if you are going to help drive and deliver value through people.  Come to the table with numbers, understand their impact and how to influence them and improve them through people decisions and actions. 
  • The ability to contribute to the setting and delivery of the business strategy - not just being the implementer of a predetermined plan, but taking a strategic stance and being able to defend it.
  • Given the continued talent challenges in the market, being the owner of the Recruitment Brand and thinking like a Marketing Director to ensure the organisation can attract and hire the required talent.
  • The importance of professional chemistry - the simple ability to work effectively, collaboratively and be aligned in approach and thinking.
  • The ability to operate as a true peer to your CEO and understand what aspects of their remit are the most testing from a people perspective and respond with swift, effective and simple solutions. 

An additional discussion which developed from this debate was an exploration of how you could make the transition from being an HRD to a CEO? Making career moves that enable you to broaden and deepen your knowledge outside of HR will help build this overall leadership credibility.  Moving between specialist areas at a senior level gives more depth and strength to your ability to make the right decisions on behalf of your customers, therefore gaining more expertise, can only increase your ability to develop into a CEO role.  

Over all the debate was challenging, insightful and thought provoking and Berwick Partners look forward to hosting follow up events to build on the success of the Retail and Consumer HRD Dinner.

If you are interested in attending future events hosted by our Retail & Consumer or HR teams please contact Tamsin Terry-Lush, Alka Gandhi or Debbie Sutton

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