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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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2 minutes with… Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil


Helen Williams is HR Leader at Statoil, working within Corporate People and Leadership. She works with leadership development, professional development and performance management and was previously HR Manager at the Tate Museum. Helen will be speaking at UNLEASH 2018 in London on March 20th and 21st. HRZone readers get a 20% discount to UNLEASH by registering through this link.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: What are your current HR priorities at Statoil?

Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil: HR is all about how we can help the business succeed by leveraging our people’s skills and motivation as well as our organisation design and great leadership.

Our current priorities are around strengthening our culture of diversity and inclusiveness and building on our values based performance development culture. Let’s get the right people to the party and then make sure they are able to perform at their best.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: You work around leadership development. Where do you think most companies go wrong when it comes to leadership development?

Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil: For us the shift has been in spending more time on helping leaders empower their organisations. It is too common to see leaders who are great at setting direction and achieving results, but who could achieve so much more if they leveraged the full energy and potential of their teams.

 It is harder to measure empowerment than it is to measure results – but that doesn’t make it less valuable and it is definitely “learnable”. 

What workplace/HR trends/ideas are you keeping your eye on at the moment?

Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil: The trends towards a more dynamic, development-based performance culture are still interesting even after several years. As this trend matures, we can learn more about what is working and not working. 

We are thinking differently about how we roll out learning opportunities to the organisation, so the trend towards “micro-learning” – bite size chunks of content delivered in real time – is of interest.

 Instead of thinking of classroom learning as the “gold standard” and alternatives as a cost saving opportunity, we can think differently as people get used to different ways of receiving digital content in their personal lives.

In the past you’ve developed and implemented a new performance strategy. What did you learn from the process?

Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil: The team I worked with made it possible – so I tried to make sure they knew how valued they were.

Sticking with a project that can run for up to a year and keeping energy levels high takes effort and feeling valued and visible can help a lot. I forgot that sometimes – I don’t intend to do that again.

Change is really hard, but positivity is catching – I worked hard to get key people on board and watched the positivity travel through the organisation.

I also learnt that this has limits, and we need to find more and more ways to communicate with our diverse organisation.

We can’t expect everyone to read an article on the intranet, or to engage with Yammer, or come to a training course, or read an information screen, or attend a briefing…. but we can hope that they might do one of those or talk to someone who has who can be a great spokesperson and role model for the new way of working.

What in your career are you most proud of achieving?

Helen Williams, HR Leader, Statoil: Work-life balance that works for me, my company and my family (most of the time).

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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