Top job: Richard Lowe, learning and development manager, UnumProvident

Richard Lowe has been promoted from a divisional training position to become
the new learning and development manager at UnumProvident.  He will work within the HR team at the
disability insurer, and focus on developing leadership talents and customer
service skills.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

I’m looking to provide a creative, stable and commercial approach to
learning and development. The priority for us at present is supporting
leadership development and creating a greater ‘customer-centric’ culture, while
also aligning training provision across the organisation.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

Demonstrating the true value that learning and development adds to an
organisation. I have always believed that the heart of strategic advantage
rests firmly in its people. Providing our workforce with the confidence,
skills, knowledge and opportunities to sustain that is central to the cause.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

There’s been so many. Probably playing a mad professor at a conference,
where I used a number of props to illustrate some important points, one of
which was a frankfurter sausage. I’m not sure whether it was the strangest
experience for the audience or me at the time.

How do you think HR’s role will change over the next five years?

I think the role of HR has become an area of increased focus for
organisations as labour markets tighten and the demands made on staff increase.
Employee expectations have also risen, and the employers are continuing to see
the value that proactive and strategic HR leadership has to the bottom line,
and I see this trend continuing.

What is your essential viewing?

Radio 4 – The Today Programme. I don’t leave home without tuning in.

What’s the best thing about HR?

Seeing the increase in results from the organisational team when HR
interventions help businesses achieve their desired goals.

What is the essential tool in your job?

I find the greatest tool in my work is the well-crafted question.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Always believe you are central to the success of a business, and prove it by
focusing on the organisational priorities, not your own hobbyhorses.

Who would play you in the film of your life, and why?

It would need to be someone like Anthony Hopkins (but a younger version)
because he’s so versatile and flexible. I feel the types of situations I have
dealt with in my life makes him an excellent choice. Although I don’t like

Lowe’s CV

Training and development manager, UnumProvident

1998  Training
consultant, Orange

1994  Regional training
officer for London, Automobile Association

1992  Sales manager,
Automobile Association

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