We are pleased to welcome Anna Brooks, Consultant Project Manager, to the hr inspire team. In this interview, Anna shares her insight into the future of HR and what she has learnt from working in global corporations.
What are your responsibilities at hr inspire?
I am running an internal review of all our business processes, systems and ways of working. I’ve spent the past six weeks running focus groups, talking to people, getting system demonstrations and analysing data as an onboarding exercise before then getting a plan into action from September on ways to further enhance our operations and customer service delivery.
Can you tell us about your career so far?
I’ve spent my entire career working for large corporates in a range of different HR roles – shared services, business partnering, ER, consulting and HR projects/transformation. I spent most of my career with the same organisation but I had so many different roles that I never felt as though I was standing still.
What was your role at KPMG?
I worked for KPMG for 15 years in many different roles. I was fortunate to have a wonderful boss who liked to move around and she often took me with her, which gave me opportunities I would never have sought out. My highlight was being involved in a programme called Flexible Futures during the 2008 financial crisis – we invited our 12,000 staff to apply to temporarily reduce their hours or take an extended period of leave on reduced pay in an effort to avoid redundancies when jobs were being cut in every sector. We managed to save £10m and avoid large-scale job losses. It was an amazing experience to be part of a tight-knit team creating something so pioneering and one which had such a positive impact. I was right there at the forefront of the change – I think I lived on adrenaline for three months!
Do you have a particular specialism?
The past six years of my career have been in HR projects and transformation and that’s what I get most excited about. I’m goal-oriented and I enjoy making plans, especially when I have a blank sheet of paper. My transformation experience includes restructuring and building new teams, including putting processes in place, devising new ways of working, developing organisational structures and implementing new HR technology.
What attracted you to hr inspire?
I’ve always wanted to work for a privately owned entrepreneurial and growing company, to feel as though I’m making a real difference to a business and to be less like a cog in a very big wheel. I used to peer into the hr inspire offices when I was walking my dog and think, wouldn’t it be great to do my dream job 10 minutes from home? I sent an email on the off chance and met Sandra (McLellan, Founder and Director) for a cup of tea the following day.
How do you think HR will change in the next few years? What do you think is the next big thing?
Automation, machine learning and AI will continue the trend of freeing up HR functions for more strategic activities. With cloud-based HR systems continuing to grow, we’re seeing companies able to focus their efforts on improving the employee experience throughout the lifecycle. For example, several of the key Human Capital Management systems are introducing automated chat-bots that allow employees to intuitively engage with systems from other digital workspaces such as Microsoft Teams without the need to log on to a dedicated system or learn how to manage multiple applications. This shift to treating the employee like a customer will help to attract the best talent from the demanding, tech-savvy Gen Z workforce.
How do you feel the pandemic has changed things for HR professionals?
The pandemic has accelerated so much change for HR professionals and put us in the driving seat as opposed to our previous role as an enabler for change. We’ve adopted new technology, guided businesses through flexible working, looked after employee well-being and now we’re helping businesses put the pieces back together as we start to return to ‘normal’. It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate how crucial HR is – hopefully, there has been a shift to recognising the value of HR that’s here to stay.
What do you love best about your new job at hr inspire?
It’s such a friendly, high-energy team with a great mix of skills and experience. The potential to do great things is huge – the pace of change in an entrepreneurial company is so exciting.
What do you do to relax?
A long walk with the dog… coffee outside in the sunshine… a great crime series… sending my children to their grandparents!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee before midday and tea after!
Favourite holiday destination?
With two young children, sadly holidays aren’t as adventurous (or relaxing) as they used to be. For the past few years, we’ve enjoyed visiting family in the Dordogne for a week of glorious sunshine, scenic walks and delicious wine.