This week Andrea Cartwright, head of HR at AXA Sun Life and Steve James, HR
director at Deloitte & Touche, compare
1 What are your main responsibilities?
AC I am responsible for the HR support of all our sales distribution
channels and central support functions such as finance, marketing and business
risk. This includes defining HR strategy and managing the HR team to deliver an
effective service to the business.
SJ Leading a business-focused HR function in a professional services
firm means my role is mainly that of a fulcrum for HR strategy, policy and
implementation across the firm, delivered to the business through a devolved HR
2 What’s the pay like?
AC It keeps the wolf from my door and allows me my fair share of
great holidays, so I have no complaints.
SJ As a Deloitte & Touche partner, the rewards – along with the
risks – are tied directly to business performance. 2001-02 was an outstanding
year for the firm, achieving 15.7 per cent growth, so the reward was very good.
3 How flexible are the hours?
AC There is no doubt both my team and myself put in a lot of hours –
in the office and at home. I am a strong believer in flexible working, though,
and that means there is give and take on hours when my team need time out to do
SJ The last year has been extremely busy. While my role allows me
complete flexibility to work my 35 hours (and some!) whenever I want, with the
integration of 3,500 Andersen UK partners and staff into Deloitte & Touche
on 1 August 2002, my hours have had to be more flexible than usual.
4 What do you like most about the job?
AC I love the variety. Although I hate to admit it, I also thrive on
the huge workload, pace at which life moves around here and the pressure. I
have a huge amount of autonomy and empowerment to make decisions and drive the
changes that are producing a world-class HR function.
SJ Working with a great team. They are often challenging,
occasionally demanding, but always supportive of our objectives and committed
110 per cent to delivering the best possible business solutions to their
clients. You can’t go wrong with the best people around you.
5 What are the challenges?
AC Raising the bar on performance has been, and remains, a huge
challenge in our business. We are also working to improve and simplify HR
processes, taking advantage of e-enabled systems wherever possible. For our HR
people to be able to focus on more strategic activities, we also have to
develop HR skills in our managers to make them more self-sufficient and less
reliant on low-level HR support.
SJ There have been huge changes in the sector over the past 12
months. Having just brought two significant businesses together – Deloitte
& Touche and Andersen UK – the immediate challenges are around
harmonisation, pay, benefits, career paths and so on, integration of systems,
processes, best practices and the evolution of the business, culturally and
6 What is your biggest headache?
AC Lack of people management skills among our leadership population.
To be fair, this is not something our business has invested in over the years.
A large proportion of the HR team’s time is spent coaching the line through
managing people issues and delivering development programmes on managing issues
such as discipline and grievance and attendance management.
SJ Uncertainty and the pace of change. It can be challenging
predicting how the business environment within which we operate will evolve
over the coming year. Deloitte’s approach is to focus on a long-term strategy
rather than short-term tactics.
7 What size is your team?
AC I have a team of 15, including HR managers, HR consultants and
administrators…and not forgetting my PA who keeps me organised. Most of the
team is based in Bristol, however those who support the sales channels spend a
lot of time in branches all over the UK, including Jersey and the Isle of Man.
SJ As a result of our recent transaction, the team is around 170
people, including HR generalists and specialists in learning, recruitment and
other HR services.
8 Who do you report to?
AC The HR director Paul Whittaker. Paul sits on the executive board
and reports to the CEO.
SJ My reporting line is to the executive team in general and more
specifically to the managing partner (operations).
9 What qualifications do you have?
AC I chose not to go to university – opting for a job instead after
A-levels. In terms of professional qualifications I am Grad CIPD qualified.
SJ MBA and Personnel Management, BA, Interdisciplinary Human Studies
and an MIPD.
10 What are your career aspirations?
AC I love working at the level I am at currently and have no
aspirations at this time to progress further. Work-life balance is delicate
with a young family, and I firmly believe the next level would adversely tip
SJ My career aspirations mirror those of the firm. We want to be the
best professional services firm in the world and I aspire to be a part of that.
11 What training and development opportunities are there?
AC I challenge anyone who works anywhere to suggest that there aren’t
development opportunities. Every experience you have in life, work and outside,
is a development opportunity and should be seen as such…in other words we
make our own opportunities.
SJ The development opportunities are exceptional and throughout my
career at Deloitte I have been able to take advantage of the range of learning programmes
on offer. Beyond our structured programmes, the empowerment and challenge you
get at Deloitte provides an environment where development is a daily event.
12 What is your holiday entitlement?
AC 27 days – if you’re clever with booking around bank holidays that
adds up to a good few weeks.
SJ 25 days. We are in the process of introducing greater flexibility
to our benefit package, including the option to purchase additional holidays
13 What’s your work environment like?
AC AXA Centre in Bristol is a truly awe-inspiring building with
fabulous facilities. We have a gym, sports hall, on-site nursery, beauty
treatment facility, grounds with a stunning lake and nearby a sports ground
with football, hockey and tennis facilities.
SJ It depends on where I plug my laptop in. I am rarely in the same
building for more than a few hours and so my working environment is very
14 What other benefits do you get?
AC I have a car, bonus scheme, private healthcare, final salary
pension, share options and the opportunity to join a share plan scheme.
SJ As a partner, I am self-employed and so purchase all my own
benefits, including pension, insurances and so on.
15 What’s the best part?
AC The people – and feeling as you are making a difference to the business.
SJ The commercial world in general has come to recognise that the
success of any business is inextricably linked to the intellectual capital that
it attracts, grows and develops. Being at the centre of that and influencing
the heartbeat of an organisation – its people – is exciting and hugely
16 How does your firm treat work-life balance?
AC Work-life balance is a choice issue and I encourage people to
drive that choice themselves, but of course we have to manage people’s workload
to support that.
SJ We recognise that work-life balance is a very personal concept and
the right answer will be different for everyone. We therefore have policies in
place that allow individuals to restructure their working lives in order to
achieve a balance that suits them and the firm.
17 What’s your dream job?
AC I’m glad to admit that I think I’m in it!
SJ Sven-Goran Eriksson’s. He can spot talent in the market. He
understands individual motivation and how to get the best out of people, but recognises
the dynamics of the team and how the collective whole is stronger than any one
player. He has a strategy for success, and a tactical plan of how to get there.
All in all, he’s a pretty good HR professional.
Head of HR, AXASun Life
Job at a glance
Size of team: 15
Holidays: 27 days
Benefits: car, bonus scheme, private healthcare, final salary pension, share
Reports to: HR director
2000 head of HR, AXASun Life
1999 head of HR policy, Barclays Bank
1986 various HR generalist and specialist roles, Tesco Stores
HR director, Deloitte &Touche
Job at a glance
Size of team: 170
Holidays: 25 days
Benefits: Self-employed so individually purchases all benefits. Reports to
executive team and managing partner (operations)
2001 HR director, Deloitte &Touche
1996 HR manager, Deloitte &Touche
1992 HR manager, Misys
1989 personnel manager, Bovis Construction
1986 recruitment consultant, Blue Arrow