The commercial head
Adrian Harvey, commercial manager, British Gas Business
Adrian Harvey is commercial manager at British Gas Business (BGB), which supplies energy to the commercial sector and is part of the Centrica group.
He says: "I have an excellent relationship with HR. I've worked in several blue-chip companies and this is the first time I've ever got an HR function that's broken what I called the 'pain-in-the-ass syndrome', where HR seems to be there to stop me doing things.
"Two years ago, our HR director Jill Shedden led a move to integrate HR more closely with the company's different divisions. It was an inspired decision as it put a qualified HR professional within the divisions who reports to [Shedden], but for all intents and purposes is part of my team.
"The key point is that HR is involved from the start, and as a result we've been able to implement complex change programmes really successfully and in a way that has earned the directorate the highest employee satisfaction rating in Centrica.
"It also means that none of my reports have to remember to consult HR - they're already in the loop. So we've eradicated the sense of 'has anyone told HR about this?'.
"HR brings different things to each directorate. It isn't a formulaic approach, and for me, HR is an omnipresent sounding board. It's a trust-based relationship - I give them scope and it pays dividends. They know the team's strengths and weaknesses and can compensate for them.
"The risk to this strategy is that you become reliant on a small number of individuals. You wouldn't have the same risk if HR was more centralised. But this risk is by far outweighed by the results we've had in employee satisfaction within BGB and the divisions. In large companies where HR is heavily centralised, the relationship is often more combative.
"I wouldn't operate in any other way now. With the complexity of compliance-type issues arising, the likelihood of me keeping up and not making mistakes is zero, so why would I want to work in such an environment without HR by my side?"
The executive director
Swag Mukerji, group executive director, First Assist
Swag Mukerji is group executive director at First Assist, a business-to-business he