week Frances Wright, HR director of SHL, and Tim Robinson, HR director UK and
Ireland of Accenture compare notes on their careers
1 What are your main responsibilities?
FW Group HR strategy and UK HR strategy and operations; making sure
that both group and UK HR is closely aligned to the business objectives and
that internally we are reflecting best HR practice. I am also the director
responsible for facilities and office services and our management training
TR Co-ordinating the overall HR service to 7,000-plus employees
across the UK and Ireland, including our teams in the consultancy practice,
those working on outsourcing deals for clients and our own internal support
2 What’s the pay like?
FW The breadth of my role makes it difficult to benchmark, but I’m
happy and feel it is appropriate.
TR Very competitive. Across all parts of the company, Accenture
recognises that in the competitive market for talent financial packages play an
important part, alongside opportunities and training.
3 How flexible are the hours?
FW Very flexible. Being an HR director at this level is certainly not
a nine-to-five job. I’m always happy to be contacted at any time if there is an
issue that warrants it. As an organisation we try to be flexible about our
approach to hours and if there’s something on that means I need to leave a
little earlier, I do. It’s all about give and take and trying to maintain
TR I manage my own hours and there is room for flexibility so long as
I get the job done and am readily contactable. The hours can be long, but the
work is fun and the time passes too quickly. I work from home about one day
each fortnight. Accenture operates a range of flexible working policies
including part-time working, job share and home and teleworking.
4 What do you like about the job?
FW Being able to operate at a strategic level and being involved in
the running of the business. The variety of the job with my broad
responsibilities. I also enjoying working with SHL’s products and services,
that’s one of the big attractions.
TR Accenture’s people are demanding and very bright. I enjoy the
challenge of working with them and with the rest of the HR team, who are outstanding.
Supporting our people is a key priority. We have outsourced much of our
operationalHR activity to e-peopleserve which has freed us up to focus on
adding greater value to the business and supportingour people.
5 What are the challenges?
FW Balancing the priorities across the business. I also firmly
believe that in today’s business world, the management of talent is a key
strategic challenge and needs to be dealt with at top level.
TR Our business is very dynamic and I have to work hard to ensure
that I understand the latest developments. There can be a lot of technical
jargon in IT consultancy which can be quite disorientating initially.
6 What is your biggest headache?
FW Finding the time to do all the things I want to do.
TR Accenture’s HR team is constantly developing and rolling out new
initiatives and programmes to make our company a great place to work. Getting
all the right data and systems in place to support these initiatives can be a
challenge at times,.
7 What size is your team?
FW For the UK an HR manager and two HR advisers, 1.5 administrators
and my indispensible PA. Globally, HR is rolled out via the regional directors
and their teams.
TR 160 people across the UK and Ireland
8 Who do you report to?
FW UK managing director in respect of the UK, and the CEO for group
TR The head of geographic services for the UK and Ireland
(effectively our chief operating officer) and the global HR lead.
9 What qualifications do you have?
FW BSc Sociology, Fellow of CIPD, Postgraduate Diploma in
TR BSc (Econ), an FCA (I am a qualified Chartered Accountant but I
keep that quiet in case I’m transferred to finance), FCIPD.
10 What are your career aspirations?
FW Enhancing the role of HR in a growing international company.
TR I would like to broaden my role to get involved with managing some
of our other support functions.
11 What training and development opportunities are there?
FW Whatever I need.
TR Accenture takes training and development of its employees very
seriously. We are always looking at new ways to develop ourselves and our
people. Too often classroom training is seen as the panacea. We are now looking
at how we can better structure our on-the-job learning and we are focusing on
developing leadership and coaching skills to facilitate this.
12 What is your holiday entitlement?
FW 30 days
TR 30 days
13 What’s your work environment like?
FW Pretty good. We moved into new offices two years ago.
TR Accenture provides good facilities for all its staff. Our HR teams
are also spending much more time now visiting our people at client sites to
ensure they are in touch and well placed to provide the appropriate support.
14 What other benefits do you get?
FW Car, pension contribution (GPP), private medical, private
TR Car allowance, share options, insurance, medical benefits, pension
scheme, time off for community and charity work, subsidised gym membership,
study leave and parental leave.
15 What’s the best part?
FW I know it sounds trite, but my team, my colleagues and people
throughout the organisation. Also our products and services and our clients
being mainly HR. It’s a stimulating environment to be in.
TR Truly partnering with the business and being able to influence our
approach to all aspects of people management.
16 How does your firm treat work-life balance?
FW We consider work-life balance to be extremely important. We are
working hard to help all employees achieve work-life balance in both attitude
and practice. Our policy is to help individuals who have personal or domestic
issues and we have a large proportion of people on part-time hours and varying
types of contract.
TR Two years ago we set up the balanced workforce programme and real
progress has been made. We have maternity and paternity policy above the
statutory requirements and leave of absence allowing for a break of up to two
years. We have established a working parents network group and discussion
programme and a ‘returners programme’. However, work-life balance is an area
where we can never be complacent and we shall continue to seek improvements.
HR director, SHL
Job at a glance
Size of team 4.5
Qualifications BSc Sociology, Fellow of CIPD, Postgraduate Diploma in
Leave 30 days
Best part Working with team, colleagues and people throughout the company
1998 HR director, SHL
1992 General manager human resources, Portman Building Society
1990 Personnel and training director, Forte Hotels
1986 Consultant, SHL
1984 Resourcing and development manager, Courage
HR director UKand Ireland, Accenture
Job at a glance
Size of team 160
Qualifications TR BSc (Econ), an FCA (I am a qualified Chartered Accountant but
I keep that quiet in case I get transferred to Finance), FCIPD
Leave 30 days
Best part Partnering with the business and influencing people management
1998 HR director UK and Ireland, Accenture
1995 HR lead (process competency) UK, Ireland, South Africa and Scandinavia
1990 HR manager, Price Waterhouse (Paris)
1987 HR manager, Price Waterhouse (London)