Coca-Cola plans to hire HR business partners to provide shared-services centres

Coca-Cola’s move to recruit pan-European HR business partners to look after specific functions, rather than individual locations, has been praised as “next generation”.

The global drinks company will employ three new senior HR business partners to help implement a new operating model across Europe, where individuals will be responsible for functions such as finance or IT, relying on a small shared-services centre for transactional issues.

Lorreine Sastrias, EU group functions HR director at Coca-Cola, said: “We had to ask: ‘How do we ensure we get the capabilities we need to ensure maximum knowledge?’. The roles will be very consultative, focusing on career and progression.”

The decision comes at a time when Coca-Cola is trying to move into new business areas, including water, dairy and juice.

David Parry, human capital resources partner at consultancy Deloitte, told Personnel Today: “HR is going through transition – there are many business partner jobs out there that do not rely on shared services yet. What Coca-Cola is doing is at the mature end of that transition – their HR business partnering role is next generation.

“HR can start to back away from priorities of grievances and disciplinaries to mergers, acquisitions and development.”

While there are many business partner roles in the UK, Parry said the challenge for companies was to recognise the differences in HR requirements for operational managers in charge of a large bottling plant, for example, compared with executive managers looking at a more strategic, long-term approach.

“Businesses need to look at how they can raise the game of HR to provide added value,” he said. “They could do this by looking at functions across countries or businesses – such as global asset management in banks.”

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