CIPD Careers webinar: What I wish I’d known – HR Directors

Have ambitions of becoming a HR Director? Unpack candid reflections from our panel of HR directors and former CIPD aspiring HRD mentees

For many people within the people profession, their main goal is to reach the top and become an HR director. It’s human nature to strive for more, progress and take that next step in your professional careers. You’ve sought out the necessary professional development opportunities, boosted your qualifications and perhaps even embarked on a mentorship programme. But what do you need to know, before taking that step to the summit of the People Profession?

From what it means to be a director and knowing how to add value, to tackling the challenges of office politics and maintaining a work-life balance, join our webinar to hear our panellists share candid reflections of their journey on becoming HR directors.

Our panel of experts include:

  • Olukemi Jeboda, Director of People, Langley House Trust
  • Sarah Mason, Former Chief People Officer, Foxtons
  • David Clutterbuck, Practice Lead, David Clutterbuck Partnership

Chaired by Leah De Silva, Senior Programme Manager, CIPD Trust

What I wish I’d known – HR Directors

CIPD webinar: What I Wish I’d Known – HR directors


Introduction good afternoon everyone excellent it’s being recorded good afternoon everyone welcome a very warm welcome on a very rainy day to today’s webinar um what I wish I’d known HR directors so a fascinating subject I can see the numbers climbing so I know it’s a popular topic welcome to everybody my name is Leah de Silva I’ll be taking you through today’s session I’m a senior program manager within the cipd trust don’t worry if you don’t know much about the cipd trust I’ll tell you a little bit more at the end of the session um but today we’re delighted to have a stellar panel of experts to guide us through today’s topic thankfully we don’t have to build our own time machine or steal a DeLorean we don’t have to go back in time the benefit of hindsight will be provided for us through our expert panelists who have practical experience hints tips learning and insight to share in abundance now the way we’re going to do things today um with our panel is I’ll be inviting each of our speakers in turn to take us through their own practical experience their personal Journeys to leadership and their experience in these areas and once we’ve done that I will be opening up the floor to questions so we hope to Pepper our panelists with lots of fantastic questions from the audience so do feel free whilst you’re listening to them to pop your questions in the Q a I’m conscious there’s a lot of us on the call today so I’ll try to get to as many as I can and certainly group together some of the themes to ensure a lively and Rich discussion um before the end of today and I will give a more thorough introduction to our panelists each time they unmute to to do that but for now a warm welcome to David clotterbox Sarah Mason and olukemi chaboda who are giving up their lunch time to give us plenty of food for thought I think and that that will be the end of my food related puns um but before we get going I just wanted to call out some of the key benefits that cipd members have access to I won’t read them all out because you can see them clearly on the screen um but I think it’s worth saying in these times these uncertain times there’s times of difficulty that that everyone is facing you don’t have to face it alone there are lots of things out there that we provide that can support you whether it’s leaning on your communities through the crpd community getting involved in local branch activity with other people professionals do make use of these and particularly at the moment I think financial support and the new well-being helpline and resources is a great way to do that it’s open to all our members in UK and Ireland and it’s certainly worth availing yourself of these resources if it’s something that you or someone else you know needs so do do that um but in a moment I’m going to crack on with today’s Hot Topic and it is certainly hot because I see the numbers still Rising so you’re all very welcome if you’re just joining us now um I guess our first panelist probably doesn’t need an introduction um you’ll definitely be familiar with David clutterbach and certainly his work Who is David Clutterbuck but I’m going to give him an introduction anyway because I think it’s absolutely worthy of it um for those of you who don’t know David David is one of the earlier pioneers of Developmental coaching and mentoring he’s also the co-founder of the European mentoring and coaching Council I mean at last count he’d authored more than 70 books I suspect it’s closer to 75 now um around sort of coaching culture and team coaching um and without giving away his age I think that’s more than one a year so pretty impressive for us to see he’s also a visiting professor at four business schools and he leads a Global Network of specialist mentoring and coaching training Consultants as well as that if you didn’t have enough to do um I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with David for the last three years in developing and designing the aspiring hrd mentoring program here at the cipd for those of you who don’t know that programmer aren’t familiar with it what it does is it’s it’s a lever to drive greater diversity at the senior levels of the people profession and it connects existing Leaders with people aspiring to that role in the next two to three years um in a mentoring relationship for about a year and David’s involvement is to run the learning interactions that those mentees go through during that process covering topics you’d expect to see you know imposter syndrome through to all the things we’re going to unpick today um but as well as being a critical friend and companion to the cipd I think David has taken upon himself to ask this this Burning question for a group of suspecting or unsuspecting hrds over the last year or two to really get to the nub of what they wish they’d known before they became an HR Director so I think our job today is to try and bust some of those myths and explain some of the the key things that some of our um delegates and colleagues found during that transition so that’s enough from me I think I’m going to invite David to to unmute he’s got a few slides to accompany this and share some of the learnings and insights from that research David over to you thank you thank you Leia and yes it is 75 books from my 75th birthday so I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed that but somehow it’s it it sort of happened um it’s been great working um with the cipd on the aspiring HR directors program and the previous um pilot of that is a few years before um uh this one being virtual and the other one being um I I think it was face to face I think a long time ago um but we um but it’s certainly been an issue for us to to explore um the sharing of knowledge between between the two between a mentor who’s somebody who’s been there for a long in the process for a long time and somebody who’s who’s just who’s who’s inspiring who wants to get there um and I’m drawn back to probably 25 years to my first experience of of finding a mentor for a newly appointed or um an an age sorry an hrd in a large organization um who wanted to get onto the board but everybody else was male and oh I know of a similar age and similar background um and what we did in the end was to find her another a chief executive in that particular case to work with as her mentor um and it was another woman who who dumped them also from an HR background but who made those that transition um both to HR director and and to to CEO and then when she became the hrd um in that organization she said thank you to that relationship but then she asked for another one um but this time she went and found herself um it didn’t really matter to her what gender that the person the the mentor was because she needed a role model at that first time but now she just wanted somebody who’d been there and seen it and done it all and so let’s let’s move it let’s start looking at the the at the uh at the slides here so with this the subject of liminality liminality the the state of being in between one state and another we’re all in in liminality all the time we just don’t often recognize it um and it’s really helpful for um nahr professional to stop and think from time to time what’s the transition I’m making who’s the person that I was and who’s the person I’m becoming yeah is that the person I want to be um and just that reflection helps us to ground what we’re doing and and to and to to get a sense of Greater intentionality and purpose in the growth that we have as a professional um so it’s it’s important to reflect it’s important to think about where am I how did I get here and one of the tools and techniques that we’ve shared with the uh with with the the latest cohorts uh just earlier this this week um was a technique called Career pathing where you look back at your career so far and you say every critical point in my career what happened what can I learn from going back to that who helped me with my thinking about making my choices and so this whole process um and the aspiring HR directors program uh please let’s have the next slide um are all built upon the the idea that the survey we need somebody to help us to reflect um on what we need to do so the survey that we did was inspired by the fact that um we were individually getting lots of lots of wonderful relationships and Leo will tell you tell you more about the program and how the success of the program but it has been brilliantly successful in helping aspiring HR directors move on in their careers towards becoming hrds and but each of the sharings that were happening were individual we didn’t really have a big picture of what does it take to move from being an HS senior HR functionary to being an HR director um were there some patterns that we could identify so that’s what we set out to include so we um uh we we I approached Leia and said look let’s let’s approach people in in in in the cipd I used to use my networks and we also got some help from Ari the association of Human Resources um uh Institute in in Australia and that that gave us um 55 hrds responded in it to a detailed questionnaire um and they gave us a lot of information um and so pretty much Europe and and Asia Pacific were the key with the key areas that we got this from so you could say this may be different from in the states and that may be so but in for for our audience here you know this what we’ve got is actually relating to us and to that experience here in Europe and the particularly the UK and in in Australia particularly in uh in in the Asia Pacific so let’s look at the next slide please so what came out of this were 14 critical themes critical themes excuse me and I’m gonna I’m just going to go through and say a little bit about each one of them this you’re going to get the report itself anyway um so um you could if you wish it I’ll tell you more about that later um but just take taking them one by one the kind of examples so what it means to be a director legally so actually having that that understanding of of the role of a director in law so many uh people with what we find become become directors not recognizing that actually they’ve taken on a bunch of responsibilities not just for their own function but for the for the viability of the company as a whole or the organization as a whole it’s a big shift um and um some of the things that people said you’re there to be of there you’re there for a reason to be an advisor and to make decisions um and to make decisions with much less information than you would thought you would have needed um um you um it seems obvious but but um but but when sitting with the top team making sure that the discussions around the benefits to staff I think are are actually talked about in decision making um that’s a key part of the role and um um and then I have the comment others around the table will eventually follow suit and start to think like this so there’s a key role here in terms of the role of a director in educating the rest of the board um um and that could be as as I’m sure many of you will print off your own experience that can be quite difficult um then on the breadth of responsibility and the knowledge of the business overall absolutely essential for every hrd to be literate in finance to be able to use numbers and that’s not just through HR analytics nobody nobody believes that HR analytics anyway um um they’ve often been described as HR banalytics because they are rather than analytic but never mind um but but actually being able to hold your own in a financial discussion and one of the questions I love to ask about of um of people on voices um could you actually go and give a speech for the finance director um um and step in from them because they if they were not not available and similarly it’s the same with the finance director could you give a speech on behalf of AR ihr other fascinating way of looking at things um perspectives on leadership and behavior um um one person said sadly I didn’t get honest feedback from my new team and I didn’t know and I didn’t open and out the door enough to get feedback to flow real personal examples here loads of these um I thought I was I was thinking like a senior like a like a CEO um now I know I wasn’t uh wonderful comments roles relating to other directors um line managers always think that they more about know more about HR than we do and it’s only and basically this person says it’s only when they stuff up um um and ask for help that we should be intervening which is an interesting point of view um and and there’s loads more like this um I don’t I I would have loved to have known how hard it is for the hrd to achieve recognition and support from other areas of the business um uh and then how we add value um you’re evaluated on the business contribution not on on the professional contribution of HR um you need to be commercial then managing the Legacy um um you don’t get until you actually get to a board to be part of the board you don’t understand the history behind how decisions were made um and this chemical has a very strong theme that people that if you can actually work out the narrative the things that are the the the the in-camera stuff that’s happened before you got there it’s really helpful in under being able to contribute right from the beginning education in the organization you have to think like an executive to um to to to find the right HR Solutions um but and you have to build trust in order for them to be able to listen to you so that they so that they could begin to take a people perspective along with the numbers perspective politics well you know politics is everywhere um but um many HR Professionals in in my experience are politically naive um and um you have to learn pretty fast to be a political operator when we’re working with politics we talk about thinking politically acting with authenticity learning the skills to do that like seem to be vital the the general of skills and knowledge that that um that you have um that’s that’s another whole area adapting your communication style for the c-suite I’m moving from the from from from um uh from tactics to strategy taking that longer term perspective it’s so much as we in in as an HR functioning it’s so much easier we’re focused on on this new program we’re trying to introduce we’ve got we’ve got it we’ve got to tackle this particular problem with the dni but stepping back and seeing it from a much longer term perspective um and communicating that to the rest of the board um the the whole issue of connectedness um is one as well um you’ve got to develop relationships say the respondents at all levels in the organization it’s no good just developing them with the other directors or within your own Department you’ve got to have fingers everywhere um uh and um on on terms I missed out on behavior of the key players the role of HR as the moral compass underemphasized but seemed but but some of our correspondents said this is vital to be clear about your role as the if you like the conscience of the organization but not the person that concept that all the problems gets dumped on person that enables the organization to access its own values and deliver its own values um a wonderful comment here on the connectedness don’t let anybody lead you on as to who’s best to connect with based on their mild view of the organization or on office politics um connect with everybody in the organization to build lasting relationships it’s a lovely comment um doing less to achieve more yeah stop trying so hard and believe more and more in myself and others great comment um reallocate your time and energy uh moving away from the way you used to carry out your role to what you need in the new role um on and coaching and mentoring so many comments about the value of having a coach in them or a mentor to help you through the transition and Beyond um I think um in my experience HIV I know from the comments that we had to HR is it well here’s a lovely comment there seems to be a business assumption that hrd doesn’t need coaching um due to the perception that HR takes care of everything actually HR needs coaching just as much you’ve got more than anybody else because we’ve got to fight all the politics in the organization and work life balance in the last one so easy for the new job to take over your life so before you get into it our correspondence were saying think about how you’re going to retain a life and the balance that you have there so those are the the 14 themes that came out um I think they’re fascinating uh and I hope you you do too and if you just put up the last slide there some of the questions it raises for us HR education what does this mean for for the education that we have for for HR as far as I know this is really the only major program in cipd that really helps HR professionals think about becoming HR directors um we need what are we doing need to do differently how can we expand what we’re doing here this is a limited program um uh but it’s been terribly beneficial for people and then there’s the transition as well from hrd to chief executive doesn’t happen that often but when it does it changes the nature of an organization so there’s a very brief summary of the research I hope that’s helpful thank you David that was hugely helpful um lots of insight there and lots of things that are prompting lots of questions from our audience so we’ll come to as many of those as we can later our social politics will be up there front and center um I’m delighted to introduce our next panelist Sarah Mason joins us today she’s the former Chief people officer at foxton’s London’s leading estate agency her background includes a wide range of HR roles focused on improving the performance of organizations through good people practice so she started Life as a specialist before becoming more of a generalist she’s also a chartered fellow of the cipd and a very active member of the HR Community um she’s had a focus on business psychology throughout her career with an evidence-based approach to her work and she’s previously been a board member of the association of business psychology itself and if that wasn’t enough we’ve been delighted to have her as a mentor in the aspiring hrd program for the last couple of years and will be calling on her to do so again in the future I I don’t doubt but I invite Sarah too to talk us through you know your journey to leadership and some of the insights you’d like to share over to you Sarah thank you very much thank you um firstly I wanted to say thank you for all the people who inputted into the research because it was really insightful I’ve read through you know the information in the paper and there’s so much there in terms of the different themes and how they landed with me and I think I really wish I had had that 10 10 15 years ago as I was moving into leadership roles it had been hugely helpful one of those themes that came through and loneliness at the top a little bit no one does really tell you some of this stuff so I think there’s some great Insight in there um I think it’s really valuable so thank you to everyone who inputted into the research there’s like a hive mind of wisdom there that I really benefited personally from I thought was really useful um and to go in back into the introduction piece I have moved my leadership Journey was starting off um as a specialist so having heads of roles in Learning and Development and recruitment over time into a generalist hrd and that transition self taught me quite a lot actually so share a few bits of that up front moving from a specialist or generalist role first of all taught me that the role of an hrd has a huge amount of risk involved and no one really says that to you that’s never really mentioned that you’re gonna suddenly need to have very broad shoulders there’s a lot of Burden that’s going to be placed on you around the risk particularly reputational risk you’ve got tribunals in there and that’s something that for the first half of my career you know really enjoying the l d and recruitment side of it was less exposed to suddenly there’s a lot that can go wrong on your watch and it is your neck on the line so this transition into the generalist hrd role taught me a lot about risk and not being scared of it you can never really avoid it if you avoid risk fully then you’re not making commercial opportunities but managing it mitigating it in a way that seems appropriate given the contextual situation you’re in so that transition from specialist to generalist taught me a lot about risks and sleepless nights on that one learned learned to navigate Broader remit that secondly that piece around broader remit going from a specialist to suddenly owning all of the hrps doesn’t always come with a broader budget unfortunately you suddenly have lots more to do with not necessarily lots more resource so there’s a piece there about being you know brutally um prioritizing prioritizing what you’re doing you’ve got to be pretty um incisive around what you spend your time and resources on which I thought was something that I hadn’t really experienced before going into the hrd role and finally that transition across from a specialist or generalist for all the Specialists who are listening um when you go into an hrd role you become the keeper of Secrets you know you’ve got the keys to the safe suddenly all the stuff that’s sensitive and commercially tricky is is in your remit and it takes a really Deft Pair of Hands to handle that it’s suddenly fairly tricky to navigate some of that so I had suddenly accessed my first hrd role to lots of information lots of things that needed to be managed in a certain way which I hadn’t been exposed team before and that can be quite a lot for someone to take on their first role but again the purpose of the cibd the purpose of a community is to be able to reach out know who to go to and you’ve got to be fairly careful when you do that with commercial information so that was my transition from a specialist leader into a generous leader and then I wanted to go through a couple of the points from the research and when I I was chatting before in preparation this call the question was which parts of the research landed with you and actually the answer is all of them there wasn’t a single bit there but I didn’t go yep yep yep yep yep they’re all that all lands with me all of that is I’ve experienced all of it so I totally think that the research is very valuable but I’ve just picked out three bits otherwise I’ll take a ball of oligomy’s time and that’s not fair um and I’ll go on and on so three bits I wanted to pick up on three of the themes um to kind of talk about how they resonated with me the first one was thinking like a director I think that’s so important and that covers as David explained quite abroad church you’ve got certainly Finance understanding a p l understanding how businesses run for different roles of the top team and how you will influence them understanding your industry I’ve spent the last four years in a state agency and every day I’d make sure I was learning news about the industry what was happening you know I’m not an estate agent by trade and never been one but I’ve got to understand that in depth so I can understand how the business runs so understanding that the business and the industry you’re in governance is really important as well and more so um the more corporate or PLC environment you’re in understanding you know the company’s stacked and the UK corporate governance code stuff that you may not really care about right now does become a bit more important um as an hrd and a PLC so understanding some governance so thinking like a director involves some kind of weighty stuff because you’re now culpable as David said so you need to know what you’re culpable for and be good at it that’s really important but secondly there’s a piece there for me around thinking like an employer not an employee and people don’t I’ve seen people as hrds who never make this shift actually I’ve seen a number of hrds over the years who think like employees say they unprioritize the projects that benefit them personally um or their team you know I’m talking about working conditions maybe benefits and that’s something you need to avoid really quickly you’ve got to get into the employer mindset super quickly what works the organization um is really important and it’s quite easy to think of yourself as an employee but an HR Director you you’re suddenly this employer and you need to think about that I worked in one organization years ago where there was lots of grumblings around the HR team at the time I was a specialist back then so I may have been part of those grumblings whereby it was very much around well if HR or the Watchmen who watches the Watchmen who is keeping them accountable and here’s the thing your business your employees and your board will keep you accountable there’s nowhere to hide so you’ve got to hold yourself to a really high standard because you’re very visible and you can’t be that HR team that rewards itself or does things for them you’ve got to be super mindful of that so that was the first thing you’ve got to be careful of who watches you so thinking like a director the second point for me was around politics I think it’s really close to my heart because it’s something I wasn’t great at the first part of my career I was politically naive and realized that wasn’t going to get me very far actually um and it would I would suddenly struggle thinking how will these decisions been made without me it’s because I wasn’t reading the politics very well so I had to over time become good at it and there’s some really interesting research by Kate McKenzie Davey who says actually it’s quite gendered a lot of women don’t like politics they find it distasteful in organizations they say I’m not going to get involved in game playing they take themselves out of it but if you’re out of the game you’ve got no leverage you’ve got no voice you’ve got no power and that’s and you’re going to be overlooked so it’s how how can you play the political game without going to the dark side that’s really important to me how can you use Politics as a Force for good I struggled with that for quite a long time and then eventually found my way to it by thinking about the difference between a used authenticity David is that piece around authenticity and integrity if I’m using political tools like building allies um for a Force for good for the greater good as opposed for self-interest that’s incredibly valuable so I could get my head around politics by thinking of it as I use my political skills for Force for good rather than going to the dark side of self-interest and I kind of made peace with it then because everything happens using levers understanding where the power sits understanding where decisions are made Aid it shifts all the time I love the quote in the researcher that says no one ever tells you the rules of the game or how to be a better player they really don’t and what they also don’t tell you by the way is the rules of the game change all the time they change with new leaders they change when the organizational macro environment changes constantly you’ve got to be really astute to that and you’re not always going to get it right so for me looking at some of the research by badly around you know balancing integrity and savaginess around politics was brilliant for me because initially I was thinking I didn’t want to be that person but actually I needed to be more politically astute to get leverage to get things done for the greater good so no dark side you know you’ve got to stay on the right side for that one I think that’s important so that was politics for me and then finally the third point for me to pick up that resonated with me was around connectedness and I think that’s huge I think that’s both inside of organizations knowing everyone at the right levels having great relationships having that leverage again it goes back to politics having your alliances having insight and knowledge being pushed to you but also outside the organization that’s how lucky enough to meet olukemi it’s the HR leaders group for the cipd having a really good connected Network outside of your organization I think is incredibly powerful um the cibd leaders Network meant that throughout the pandemic and a group of eight of us hrd cpos helping each other through a very difficult time and you know I couldn’t have done it without them to be fair I’ve got some really good buddies from it but having that connectedness internally and externally who can you go from for help I always think of them as friendly experts having a network of friendly experts old bosses old colleagues anyone that can give you help and you can handle it confidentially you’ve got to be super careful on what you do and don’t share and that’s why small networks with Chatham House Rules work really well in the hrd sphere suddenly big networks can be a little bit of a problem when you’re you’ve got quite sensitive information to share so finally to sum up there’s three points there that I’ve gone through that have resonated with me I’ve been involved with the aspiring hrd program I was very lucky to have an amazing mentee who I think taught me more than I gave back so I think I got the better end of the deal actually if I’m if I can say that it’s been a really interesting program to be part of with Incredible support on it and I’d encourage anyone listening if they want to get involved to be a mentor they should I think um it’s a really powerful thing as part of our community to back and part of connectedness is very much giving back and feeding your network so I do try to do as much that so it’d be great if we could expand it out because there’s something brilliant about supporting the Next Generation coming through I think but that’s being done thank you thank you Sarah I think that’s so much Questions for all have resonated with so many people and I’ve seen the questions and the comments flying in so thank you very much for all of you who are putting your questions in the Q a don’t worry there’s still time to do so so do pop them in there I know our speakers are very inspiring and you might forget to ask that burning question but do try and pop it in if you can um and with that onto our final panelist um olukemich Voda so olukemi is a season date to our professional she has experience in lots of different sectors um she’s currently director of people at Langley house trust but she is incredibly busy I don’t quite know how she finds the time to do all of this but she is also a trustee and a non-executive director at Thames reach charity and Thames Beach Housing um not content with that she’s also a non-magist member of the judicial office advisory committee and a volunteer Enterprise advisor on our very own cipd and careers in Enterprise company program she holds an MBA and an MSC in international HR management and is a chartered fellow at the cipd as Sarah quite rightly referenced olukemi was recently on the program she’s an alumni from the program and was mentored by Sarah so you’ll get a sense of that wonderful Dynamic I’m sure but if I can invite you all akemi to take us through your journey to leadership My Journey um thank you very much Leah hi everyone uh as Leah said in terms of people at Langley um our stressed I’m really pleased to be here to share my journey into the HR directoral I would like to start by saying that for those who are looking to become HR directors that actually is possible it doesn’t matter for how long you’ve been trying to get that role or the challenges that you’ve faced if you wanted then you have every chance of getting it you’ve got to settle that whether you might first of all and don’t let anyone tell you different that was my starting point so I spent a number of years you know in my last role as a lead HR business partner but this time I had my MBA and professional qualifications and coaching and mentoring with the cipd and also with the European mentoring and coaching Council qualifications and agile project management psychometric testing um Level A and B I also let several projects at work um so I didn’t stand still but even though my company massively you know invested in me and supported me they there was simply no way to progress internally so naturally I felt stuck and it was hard but one thing I always did too was to keep moving I knew that I may be running on one spot but I was gathering momentum and when the right time finally came I knew that I would break through and I would get that hrd role that was targeting so I never gave up myself so please don’t give up on yourself now whilst I was in maternity leave in 2019 I had a lot of time to think I think it is good because previously I was just it was so busy I didn’t have time to reflect like Professor David was talking about and I think that was the turning point for me creating time for yourself to reflect on where you are and what you where you want to go will help to bring Clarity to your situation so I worked out that though I was a solid child practitioner I wasn’t ready for the hld rule and that’s another thing you must be ready to tell yourself the truth so what I did was to identify my gaps and then I mapped out a plan on how I was going to expand my experience so here was the list I came up with I wanted to get my second Masters to expand my skills and research I thought that was really good for me to have those skills I already had a postgraduate so it was easy to get the second Masters and then I went on this street to get more volunteering opportunities so I could expand my experience I applied for and I got the following uh cipd members member mentoring program and also became an Enterprise advisor with the crpd and that helped me to work with local schools to help young people to access the world of work I beginner trustee and a non-exact with the 10th Street charity and tend to reach housing and also a living about with the judicial office advisory committee recruiting magistrates to the bench and also I became a coach and Mentor for several organizations now those engagements they gave me different things I was very clear what I was going to get from each one so it’s broadly my existing skills and developing the ones that I didn’t have they helped me to broaden my network from interacting with young adults to Young professionals to HR pairs to those in the Justice sector and of course to those who are also non-execs in the charity sector I am an introvert and so these opportunities gave me access to different spaces is and also helps you exist in those spaces comfortably now they were all voluntary I wasn’t paid but I was investing in myself and there is no payments that is greater than that because investing in yourself is the first step to being successful and making an impact in your world time wise things got easier post pandemic because most of those interactions then you know they begin virtual but I needed something more and I discovered the crpd was running the hrd aspiring program I contacted Lee I didn’t know really I was I contacted her and I found out that I missed the very first cohort I had to wait a whole year but I changed stuff I changed stuff and I made sure that I did my best through the selection process and I got and I was so pleased it was a game changer the sessions with Professor David were carefully curated for us to learn about the hrd role it was it was it was really great seeing Theory come alive through research and the research on if I need then what I know now reflections of hrd international it has been referred to today it was perfect it became my handbook and my guide I don’t like Sarah I had the benefits even before getting into the road so I was like okay fine experience that he says best teacher but it doesn’t have to be your experience you can learn from other people and that’s exactly what I did um well you see that research gave me the chance to pause and to take another honest look at myself uh so I could map out what else I needed to do and work on before I got the rule so for me getting the road was just not the hand it was the process I was going to go through to transform myself that was important so I prioritized that and I can only say honestly say that seven months into my new role that research actually still resonates with me and I still look at it now each mentee on the program was assignment so I had Sarah and proud to say I still have Sarah um and I must say that it was a fantastic match and I don’t know how Leah does it or did it but several of my colleagues actually on the program also commented uh but you know they had this incredible experience with with their mentors so that’s one thing that actually the crbd did get right now Sarah changed my thinking entirely yes we worked on my CV and all those things that normally you will get a mentor to to do to do with you but it was so much more the real change came from our conversations and the window into how Sarah was thinking I said three of this with you Sarah asked me and said what kind of hrd do you want to be because there are different kinds of hrds never thought of that well straight away with that hesitation I said well I’d like to be your kind of hrd because really I could see that I liked the way that you know Sarah was actually doing a hrd role and nothing about Sarah nice that she would have noticed we both speak very very fast so even as even though our sessions are more than air powers we cover content like three hours and more than anything so that was great I didn’t have to modify myself it was fantastic um so so that’s the first thing I need to think about so you think about the country that you want to be if you’re trying to get that role secondly don’t Sarah said this to me as well don’t worry about not getting rules despite the fact that you’ve applied for several she said oh she said she had the same Challenge and as I see we never seemed to be able to sell her what sells her is when she gets into the room and from referrals and straight away I felt like you know what I was going through I felt normalized because I realized that there’s nothing wrong with me it’s okay if Sarah can feel like that that’s great I and I felt same the third thing that Sarah said to me was the hrd rule is not going to be all about doing strategy all the time you have to look at what the business needs your quick wins your resources and then you work from there and again that helps me to dispel the purest myth that I had of what’s the hrg role actually entails so in summary I’d like to note five things that I’ve learned from Professor David from Sarah from the HIV aspiring program and from others in my transition uh into the hrd role number one when you’re looking for a role make sure to find out about your boss your new boss potential neighbors the other directors the culture and your Summary team is the CEO of somebody who will support you uh that you can look up to that you can respect you know this is key for you to succeed in the role and with what you know you can then get ready for the role even before you start and when you get they build relationships and importantly with your team still because you’re not going to be able to deliver without your team number two the hrd role is a lonely one trust me that statement is loaded so get your support system in place even before you get the role surround yourself with mentors and peers and other other hrds cheerleaders and contacts from various kinds of expertise even though I’ve completed the hrd programs Sarah still mentors me and I’m proud of that I’m so grateful you know that I still have that relationship with Sarah and it was really helpful working with her to analyze the organization and what I was going into even before I started and of course I still have other mentors the new organization also got me a mentor and I’ve got a strong network of family friends and peers outside of the business that helped to keep me grounded because that’s important number three focus on learning about the business move from thinking from HR to business to thinking from business to HR I prioritize this in my new role I’ve visited all the locations and quite widely dispersed in the first few months connecting with people and learning well I’m still learning about the business now your HR skills may get you the role but it is your business skills that will help you to keep the role nobody really cares about how many HR theories you know the point is so what you know why the impact and then it’s okay not to know everything but be ready to listen to learn and to stay humble so that you can always continue to learn number four and to quote from David uh David’s research think politically act with Integrity get comfortable with playing politics but be true to yourself so you can sleep at night my sleep is very important to me so it’s important don’t treat to myself so I can sleep at night um but learn where the power lies the drivers the levers in the organization find out who is really who beyond the formal structures of Power number five what are you going to prioritize because you are not going to be able to do everything get ready to ask and fight for resources but be ready to justify the value that you will create learn how to think and talk bottom line like the finance and operations directors hold before I became a director of people my superpower was that I could get anything done I just had to do longer hours and the work would get completed I forgot about this research and I tried doing that it was it just it just didn’t work I believe I really tried it didn’t work so my new superpower is enabling empowering and equipping others to be the best that they want to be my aim now is to shine through others they may not be perfect but neither am I practice makes progress so that we work together and then we make progress together now you need that approach to be able to create a balance for your whole self your family and your life and actually those are the most important things in life isn’t it thank you wow thanks olakey I mean I think that is Audience questions pretty inspiring I’ve seen the questions flooding in from the audience so thank you so much for sharing your insights I’m now going to try and put as many questions as I can to the panel because I have been coming in thick and fast and building on some of the things um that you all spoke about um but one of the first ones and I’m going to stay with you if I’m a Ola kemi and then potentially come to Sarah on this one in your opinion is it easier this is one of our audience members asking this to make that transition to an HR director in your current organization or to break free and do it somewhere else olukemi what are your thoughts I know you’ve got some yeah some form and experience in this Can you switch to another role area a really good question um and I almost I feel it’s like one of those rhetoric questions that actually there is no direct answer one answer to it it just really depends on the organization depends on you depends on the culture of the organization as well in finance I did want to stay on progress in my organization I just didn’t have the opportunity um and so I knew that actually unless I was going to kill off my bosses and I didn’t want to do that I knew the only other way was to actually find something externally but of course the process their pros and comes to whatever happens if you stay on you you obviously have the comfort of a familiar you know ground you know everything you can just build and watching you already you know people you know the stakeholders you have the history you know the Legacy and all that but then you also have to let people see you differently so if people are used to seeing you as an operations person you know uh you know tactical person you want to switch to that point you know it like like Sarah was talking about there is that transition and obviously you have to fight for that so that’s that challenge uh but if you go to another organization as well yes you can start on the event States you know they can see you straight away as a director but you don’t know what you’re going there to meet for instance in this organization this is the first time they’re going to have a director of people role so even though it wasn’t me they saw previously as a tactical person or ahead of HR I still have to make sure that I’m creating that awareness of how a director of people functions on how I work so I think you just have to work with whatever life throws you basically but you know whatever opportunity you get and you think is right for you then you know work from it absolutely Sarah did you have anything to add on on that I’ve got another Can you move laterally question designed for you but anything to add there I would agree with that I think it depends on the organization previously as a specialist I was pigeonholed as a specialist and that can sometimes make it difficult to move up whereas if you’ve got other organizations have allowed me to move laterally I moved from doing a sales position actually into a internal recruitment position so it depends on how how the organization works and how you’re viewed is your role seen as siled is it seen as a natural progression some organizations are brilliant at Talent Mobility other organizations other organizations a bit more siled so I think it’s very specific to the to the company definitely and and staying with you if I may Sarah I mean one of the questions I Navigating holding peers think we’ve got from somebody who is a new hrd so they were sharing that it’s very valuable and reassuring to hear and have time to sort of consider some of these Reflections but how do you navigate holding peers and those who are more senior to you to account and and at the same time retain you know strong working relationships with them and Beyond any issues I think it starts with um there’s about three or four different steps to go through the first one is demonstrating your value because if you’re accountable it starts with you if you can be accountable then you can start holding other people accountable so you’ve got to have enough credibility personally and professionally to be holding other people so it starts with you if that makes sense secondly it’s about getting agreement and consent you know you’ve got to have their agreement really to be agreeing what does accountable look like so you have to have to do quite a lot of work some some companies are very good at having formal off-site days and and ways of a green code of conducts I’ve often navigated it informally by getting to know my peers what’s important to them what agendas are they working to how can I support their agenda once I’ve got that relationship in place then you can start challenging them it’s hard to challenge without the relationship and Trust in place first so start with yourself be credible and credible in HR comes from delivery do I deliver what I say I should deliver on my commercial so start with yourself then you start building the relationship and only then can you challenge if you challenge too early and hold people accountable you are going to get a kickback I mean good luck with that one um I’m very careful but I think if you start with you you’re credible you’re delivering you build a relationship up resp you know you kind of help each other out then you can start holding people accountable once that trust and credibility is in place absolutely thank you Sarah David I have Challenging HR directors a question oh sorry yes please do come in the back of that one well yeah please it’s been fascinating to observe not just with hrds um but um the new the new director of functional director um you you come in and you’ve got to establish your reputation and your your relationship with them and so um challenging them not by directly but by getting them to explain things to you and and and asking the questions that reveal the illogicality of what the of what they’re proposing and it’s that and it’s that that sort of constructive dialogue that get that makes them justify themselves but in a nice way it’s all about your learning and trying to understand everything that’s going but but but but that’s that that those penetrative questions are far more effective and so we’ve observed then then the direct Challenge and I don’t know what what he came in and and Sarah would respond to that but I think I’ve seen lots of nodding heads and David if I may stay with you I think um when Sarah was talking about politics Navigating politics the Q a was going um quite busy and there was a bit of a frenzy there and I think lots of people would like to have a little bit of a steal navigating politics I know it’s something you cover in some of the sessions we do but one person contacted us to say they’ve been brought in alongside a lot of other new talents to a business in this new role which is great but there is still a bit of a hangover of the old toxic culture and some of the existing leaders have remained and bring with them heavy baggage what’s the best way to navigate that sort of toxic environment where it’s heavily politicized and perhaps you’re starting to question if you’ve made the right decision in moving over we’ve just completed and delivered a book on on coaching in a politicized environment um and one of the things we actually have in in that in which we we’re making available to to this the the current cohort is a is a questionnaire we’ve developed from the research on basically how politically savvy are you um and if anyone would like like a copy of that then we’ll be very happy to send to send them one but politics toxic politics operates in the shadows and Clarity bringing it into the opening open bringing out the values of the organization and and actually having constant discussions about the values and these values not and not necessarily values to set by HR their value is set by the organ the espalanced values so um creating forums where um uh you can you can actually have discussions about well are we living up to our values in the way that we’re approaching this what’s happening here so the more it comes into into the daylight the the the less power the politically the negatively politically motivated people have and it’s and that’s constant um bringing shedding daylight on the issues in the National Health Service we’ve trained over 200 ethical mentors uh and these are people that anybody can go to if they’ve got if they think that that and the ethical um values of the organization are being broken and ask for and and the mentors in this case are helping them to think about how they they take that further so there’s lots of things that we can do I think that just that take it away from the Shadows yeah definitely um I love this question somebody’s put in here which I think is a great How do you know youre ready question how do you know you’re ready to be an hrd I feel like that’s the million dollar question how do you know so let’s start with you olake how did you how did you know you’re ready to be an hrd do you know um it’s a fantastic question isn’t it because you can you can sometimes think you know you’re ready for something and then at the back of your mind somewhere you conduct yourself and think okay maybe you’re not ready um and now I would say that with anything would you ever be completely completely ready for anything so don’t be put about the fact that oh my God I’m not ready I’m not ready I’m not ready I can’t you know there will always be that level of no matter already or there’s always going to be that level of you feel the tension you feel like oh I’ll be on my own I’ll be lonely it’ll be all of those things that doesn’t mean that you’re not ready you’re the only one that can really decide if you’re ready or not regardless of what anybody else is saying and from my experience what I did was I wanted it so in a way I felt I was ready but when I took a step back looked at the research engaged with people who were obviously experienced I came to my personal conclusion that I wasn’t ready now that doesn’t stop my vision I want to do it and I didn’t get frustrated so I’m not ready I’m gonna give up no what that helped me to do was even sit down be honest with myself and say how do I get ready so I don’t think that it’s a finite question of how do you know it’s ready I think it’s more how do I get ready and once you know you’ve done everything to be able to get you you would know it’s like a uh you know Sarah would say to me when we first started still running status stress the way I was ready you know went through the CV she talked about my CV then we did this we did that and afterwards she was like you know and there was a I remember a particular session with Sarah um and she asked me a couple of questions and it was very interesting what do you like British Airways virgin what did you do and I was telling him but you know we went through all of that she looked at me and said you ready you already I know the way Sarah talks very quickly like I do you already you’re ready and you know for me that was a confirmation that okay fine let’s go out and fight for this role now so I think it’s been um you know honest with yourself uh don’t don’t get daunted by father it’s a lot but actually go through that process how do you get ready is a better question rather than just saying oh I’m not ready so I may not be ready yeah definitely and and Sarah one of your um points I think is a really good one and it’s it’s a theme that’s come out How do you decide which ones to put your time into throughout the aspiring hrd mentoring program this theme of loneliness in leadership and how vital those networks are and it’s why we try to Foster more repair community um we’ve had a question which I think is a really good one there’s there’s a plethora of virtual networks out there for HR practice how do you decide which ones to put your time and effort into um to to get the best return either you can add value or you can take value or both it’s just being clear what what where can you add value because sometimes about you giving something back and feeding your network um and secondly it’s where can you take value um so I think there’s there’s a number of different ways you would need value you need um networks that are going to be around your profession um you know for instance estate agency or law or Tech whatever profession you’re in you’ve got networks around um Your Role hrd or peer level and then you’ve got ones that are communities of practice like you know the cipd is a broad church with lots of areas in it so it’s looking at what do you need and that will change over time so you might jump in and out of networks depending on what you need at that point and I’ve done that I’ve worked in I’ve been part of lots of different networks depending on what I needed so you can be quite fluid with it I’ve also set up networks so when I joined the state agency my entire network after 20 years in the recruitment industry was very focused in recruitment I didn’t really know many people in the estate agency industry so actually set up with my one of my old colleague an HR in a state agency Network so actually created one because we didn’t have one and that was great suddenly we had eight or nine people at hrd CPO level all sharing ideas so you don’t just have to join them you can make them I think I love that um if there isn’t one that suits you Imposter syndrome create one I think that’s a great answer um we’ve got a great question here about imposter syndrome um lots of key plaudits which I’d absolutely Echo for the fact that Olive kebbie and Sarah you’re so inspiring and determined and together about all this you know how plagued are you both with imposter syndrome you know how vulnerable can you be with leaders in your current organizations or in other environments like that coming to you all first order kemi I I think uh that’s a really really good question and uh you know uh there are a couple of things you can do with bear with imposter syndrome you can dread it and you know it gets worse and you can be afraid of it but I feed on my fair I like when it comes when it hits me as in oh you started out yourself I’m like look and I do something visually so I have different ways of you know tackling the pain of what the station is and I visualize myself sitting down with my feet under the table and I’m like I’m not going anywhere we’re going to fix this to get I’m not going anywhere I’m going to see this through and actually you almost have to find a way to be able to wake yourself up and you have to deal with it I don’t have time to start saying I want to deal with impossible I want to deal with the fear look that’s fueling the fear of paying attention what I do is to convert that energy that nervousness that doubt I convert it into okay how am I gonna run I actually get what I want and by the time I finish getting what I want I realized well actually that fair isn’t there anymore so that’s my own way uh because my personality that’s my way of really dealing with it but it will come and it will come at different points it will come well am I going in for this role uh am I good enough for to be at this table am I good enough to be on this board I might you know it will come um and and actually you know like I said I I exist in so many different you know spaces and and whatever so that I could learn so that I can be comfortable and so for instance if I’m with my own new board I’m not that scared because I’m like well I sit on two other boards and you know this person is probably at that person that’s fine they don’t hate me they they’re not they’re not really thinking that you know I can rationalize it through and that again is how I work through it but I would say that don’t be put off everyone feels a certain level of fear anxiety I mean whatever president or prime minister at least trust probably feels that now that she’s standing there looking at all the issues she’s standing there she’s not running so that’s what you got to think about you will never ever get to a point in your life or any position where it feels like oh it’s all over no this is just the starting point for everybody so your your endpoint might be standing for somebody else it’s normal accepted deal with benefits and Sarah anything to add I’d agree with Is it just normal behaviour that um you know I saw an article on LinkedIn saying if everyone experiences imposter syndrome is it even a syndrome is it just just normal behavior is it just we can’t possibly know everything that’s okay when I was making the leap from a specialist to a generalist I reached out to someone in my network who’d done the same thing he was he was he’d started off in l d and became a very experienced hrd so I reached out and said can I buy your coffee and pick your brains and I was like saying oh what if I get things wrong and his advice was amazing he said they’ve hired you what you know not you don’t know stop worrying about it they’ve given you a job based on what they they obviously like you so stop worrying about it focus on what you know fix the gaps another way but you’re fixating on what you don’t know and that’s the wrong thing when you’re going into a new job and it really stuck with me it was helpful absolutely what we’ve been doing around this um yeah there’s a there’s a fine line between imposter syndrome excessive self-doubt and balance self-doubt the the criticism the the kind of criticism that that that that that’s only coming you you did when you evaluated yourself and actually that fine line you’re signing on you’re actually standing on either side of it um as in an HID role sometimes you move you find yourself swaying this way you sway back again and it’s thinking about about you how am I just going to shift and it doesn’t it’s not a big shift it’s just a small shift to say actually no I’m applying a balanced self-doubt which means I’m going to be more effective absolutely um I’m conscious of time and there are still lots of questions what I would say Book there’s been lots of interest in the book that you mentioned David So if you’re comfortable we will put your email address in the chat so that people can contact you for a copy of that um and take that forward book is it the Publishers the book’s not out yet oh okay but the syrup that’s the uh the survey yes um please do just just contact me and we will send you a copy of the survey brilliant um also there’s been lots of questions in the chat about the aspiring hrd mentoring program as you’d expect because we’ve had such an inspiring mentee mentor and our learning from David as well um applications will open again in the new year but I think somebody raising the question um and answer the books and this is a true challenge for us what can we do and David said at the beginning our challenge at the cipd is to broaden out that learning to share it more widely so it isn’t just the people on program it’s the wider connections and I think hopefully what you’ve taken away from today is there are lots of things you can put in place yourself around creating those networks that are important to support you in what is a lonely transition reaching out to people is Sarah said have a coffee with people understand them as David mentioned or become more cognizant with the ways of finances in your organizations you know skill up get ready be ready is olukemia saying there’s lots of inspiring things you can do outside of the program itself and if you are interested in registering or talking to us get in touch with me but I with one it to go there’s a couple of more things I want to say before we round off um obviously a huge thank you to our panelists to David cutterbach to olukemi duboda and Sarah Mason for spending this lunch time with us to bust some myths and actually shed some light on these important issues there will be lots of follow-up the recording will be available and a world look at other ways to try and get some of this learning out to you in the future so do share that with other people who’ve missed it don’t forget to look at our well-being resources as well as I mentioned these are tricky times so you know don’t Traverse them alone Avail yourselves off the um support that is out there um I did also mention that I was going to talk about the trust and I will so if you aren’t familiar with the trust our role is very much to amplify the charitable purpose of the cipd so our focus and our proposition will be on tackling barriers today to create more inclusive workplaces of Tomorrow by connecting people and organizations with the people professional expertise that we’ve been talking about today that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and you might be thinking well how are you going to do that and the way we’re going to do that is by building on the work we’ve already done to support Young Job Seekers and parents returning to their workplace by connecting them with people professionals to help them navigate that entry or re-entry to work but we’ll be looking at extending that to other groups who might need our help refugees prison levers for example in addition we’re going to be building on this this huge stream of diversifying the profession um the aspiring hrd program is One Drop in the Ocean it’s one program that we run we want to take the learnings and as I said Cascade them further we want to look at other programs that will do the same to to create a more diverse profession that is more representative of the communities in which we operate um and we’re also looking at unlocking support at that early entry point into the profession so we’ve just relaunched and revamped our bursary scheme to help people who are really struggling with financial hardship to actually engage with an HR qualification and kick-start their career into this wonderful profession but if you want to hear more if you want to get involved whether you want to be a mentor as Sarah said or volunteer or professional expertise to help us unpick some sworn issues or maybe you want to come in and co-fund the bursary with us get in touch one of my colleagues will put in the chat box or the Q a box our email address which is cipd trust team at but at 101 I know I’ve gone over by one minute but it’s purely because we have such an inspiring panel I would like to thank all of them all of you for your fantastic questions and if we haven’t come to all of them today we will try and find other ways to answer them do look out for the recording and a massive thank you to all my crpd colleagues behind the scenes for making it run smoothly particularly Christian Adams so thank you all and hope to see you at Future cipd webinar very soon bye-bye

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