Global overhaul gives local HR key role at Save the Children

Save the Children is completely overhauling its global HR operation as it embarks on a new long-term strategy centred on growth outside of the UK.

The charity is recruiting senior HR professionals for six new regional centres around the world, to support its plan to devolve much of its decision-making from its head office in London.

The regional centres, in countries including India, Thailand, Senegal and Ethiopia, as well as the UK, will take on sole responsibility for building up capacity and skills in each region.

The HR teams at the new centres will be tasked with recruiting professionals with skills in the four areas Save the Children is focusing on as part of its long-term strategy: health, malnutrition, education and protection.

Derek Manuel, international HR director at Save the Children, said restructuring would improve the effectiveness and flexibility of the charity’s operations.

“At a local level, there will be more resources, more accountability and greater responsibility for decision-making,” he told Personnel Today. “The role of global functions is to provide strategic frameworks, rather than to manage. By devolving decision-making we create greater organisational speed and effectiveness.”

Having identified culture change as the major challenge of implementing the new strategy, the charity put its top 100 senior managers through a leadership course designed to help them to address change management issues.

“Culture change will definitely be a challenge,” Manuel said. “Saying something and doing it are very different things. That is why we put the leadership programme in place.” This ability to influence others will be the key skill Save the Children is looking for in prospective HR managers, Manuel said.

“We want senior, balanced HR professionals who can make a serious contribution without necessarily having the accountability they are used to,” he said.

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