Head to head

This week Ralph Tribe, vice-president of HR at Getty Images, and Mark
Sandham, UKHR director at Reuters Group, compare notes on their careers

1 What are your main responsibilities?

RT Leading a team in the delivery of major international change
management and business transformation projects. Recruitment, OD, C&B and ER
all play a part, but typically we’re trying to fit all of these HR disciplines
together to deliver a "total" HR solution to any given business
issue. I look after HR operations across Europe and the Asia Pacific region,
plus act as strategic HR business partner to three global business groups.

MS My primary role is to lead a team of HR professionals who provide
support to around 5,000 people in the UK. This includes our corporate HQ and a
number of groups that are truly global in their lines of business. I am also
about to take on additional responsibilities for a number of activities
relating to our HR operations globally, such as information systems, processes,
projects, planning and assessing the overall performance of the function.

2 What’s the pay like?

RT About £100,000 plus bonus. To me, the actual number is less
important than whether the HR people are paid the same as their line manager
colleagues, as I think this gives you some indication of your perceived value. If
you’re earning less, you need to get busy, if you’re earning the same or better
then you’re probably doing a good job. The HR people at Getty Images typically
earn the same, with good reason.

MS Our overall remuneration package is very competitive. We are
benchmarking our salaries against the marketplace. I have a base salary plus an
additional bonus together with stock options.

3 How flexible are the hours?

RT Very. We measure results, not time spent at desk. I typically work
about 50 hours a week, but the pattern of those hours is up to me. Working with
US time zones means that the working day can be almost any time you want it to
be, so I do get to spend time with my family every morning and every evening.

MS It is up to me, as to how I manage my hours. They are long, but
quite flexible. Reuters is keen for its employees to maintain a healthy
work-life balance.

4 What do you like about the job?

RT I love being part of a company which is truly working in uncharted
territory when it comes to fusing creativity and technology. In many respects,
many of us here feel like we are on a kind of adventure because the pace of
change is so fast and the rules are so undefined. The hard part is trying to
keep the adventure from turning into a nightmare.

MS I enjoy working for a company which has a great brand, is a market
leader and has a global presence. The culture is creative, dynamic and fun.
From an HR perspective, we have a lot to deliver if we are to create our
desired intention of building a truly world-class function. So from looking at
processes and infrastructure right through to the roles of HR specialists and
generalist working alongside senior line management, there is a lot of
transformation to keep me motivated and busy.

5 What are the challenges?

RT The sheer pace of change, plus trying to convince my colleagues in
Europe that we are not so different to the US, while at the same time trying to
convince my colleagues in the US that although Europe’s not that different,
there are still some differences.

MS Reuters is a global information, news and technology group with
more than 13,000 staff in 210 cities and 99 countries. The main challenges are
therefore in balancing a consistent global framework for people management
strategies with the need for local variation and flexibility.

6 What is your biggest headache?

RT At this point, the global economic slowdown. Anyone who thinks
that managing in a downturn is more fun than managing in an upturn is an idiot,
a psychopath, or an outplacement consultant!

MS Time zones and geography – it isn’t easy to get everyone together
at the same time.

7 What size is your team?

RT About 30 HR people around the world. I lead 10 HR people in
Europe/Asia Pacific looking after about 1,000 employees.

MS Including myself, 60 on the HR side. I also have responsibility
for a training and development team of 29.

8 Who do you report to?

RT Bill O’Neill, global head of HR, based in Seattle.

MS The global HR director.

9 What qualifications do you have?

RT A degree plus CIPD qualification. For some reason, I still pay my
CIPD subscription, despite getting zero value for money – if only there was an
alternative I would swap over in a moment. For example, SHRM (the US equivalent
of CIPD) can actually tell you exactly what dollar-value members get for their
subscription, and it’s many times the annual fee. Imagine the CIPD trying this
exercise? Frightening.

MS I qualified as a fellow of the Institute of Bankers. Since
switching to HR several years ago, I attained an MBA.

10 What are your career aspirations?

RT To be happy. I can imagine being happy doing many different things
– another HR job, HR consultancy, particularly a business development role or

MS I have already held a number of substantial roles of both a
strategic and operational nature within HR, as well as general management roles
in the business. These have all been interesting and challenging. Ideally I
would like to build on that breadth and welcome the increasing exposure to
global aspects of the business. Ultimately I would like the number-one HR job
in an organisation at some stage.

11 What training and development opportunities are there?

RT Many. The huge amount of change taking place at Getty Images, particularly
technology-driven change, means that training is very high on the agenda for
everyone from the CEO to the frontline.

MS Plenty. Learning and development is taken seriously at Reuters and
we encourage all employees to have personal development plans.

12 What is your holiday entitlement?

RT 25 days, plus I travel on business about seven weeks a year. Just
visiting another country, even with work, kind of makes me feel like I’ve been
on holiday.

MS 30 days annual leave.

13 What is your working environment like?

RT Our facilities are quite nice – nothing palatial, but
characterised by a sense of urgency, energy, and fun. Being surrounded by great
imagery is obviously inspiring, but what’s interesting about Getty Images is
that we deliberately do NOT put pictures up everywhere – our images exist for a
reason, and they’re anything but a commodity.

MS We are based in the heart of London – near Fleet Street. The
atmosphere is busy and hectic, but charged with the enthusiasm of a team, which
believes in what it is doing and is keen to deliver.

14 What other benefits do you get?

RT All the usual stuff, but the stock options are the big one.
There’s significant wealth creation there in the medium term and I do find this
highly motivational.

MS Life insurance, healthcare, car allowance, pension, SAYE, stock

15 What’s the best part?

RT The fact that at Getty Images it’s very easy to see the direct
bottom-line impact of HR’s work. The HR group costs Getty Images about $7m per
year, but we know that in the past year we delivered at least $50m of tangible
value to the business. With that kind of return, we’re worth investing in.

MS Getting up in the mornings!

Mark Sandham
UK HR director, Reuters Group

Job at a glance
Size of team: 60  
Qualifications: MBA in HR
Leave: 30 days
Best part: Getting up in the mornings!

Curriculum Vitae
2001 UK HR director, Reuters Group
1997 Senior Line Business Roles, NatWest Bank
1995 Head of HR, Group IT division, NatWest Bank
1990 Variety of senior HR roles, NatWest Bank
1980 Various operational roles, NatWest Bank

Ralph Tribe
Vice-president of HR, Getty Images

Job at a glance
Size of team: 30
Qualifications: BA in sociology, CIPD qualified
Leave: 25 days
Best part: Delivering tangible value to the business

Curriculum Vitae
1999 Vice-president HR (Europe & Asia Pacific), Getty Images
1997 Head of HR (Europe), DA Consulting Group
1995 Managing consultant, Qtab
1992 HR manager, Railtrack
1989 Various sales roles, Reed Elsevier

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