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How Did I Get Here? Cathy Wilcher, HR Director, CFS


Former Abbey HR Director, Cathy Wilcher reveals the importance of courageous decision making and achieving what no one thought possible.

1. How strategic is your current role and what does it involve?
I will be starting my new job with CFS on 18 April and joining their Executive Committee. One of the attractions to the job was Chief Executive David Anderson and his team’s enthusiasm for HR to play a key role in the business agenda. For me, HR earns its place when everything it does can be clearly linked to the business strategy and values.

2. How is the HR function perceived within your organisation?
HR is the same as any function, it needs to have great leadership to give its people confidence and influence. If you can combine these with talented people, you will have a well regarded HR team.

3. How does your business use HR practices to get ahead?
At the heart of people practices there are only four core processes:

  • Attracting talent
  • Providing vision and purpose
  • Encouraging learning and sharing
  • Recognising excellence

If any organisation can do these things every day, it will be ahead in its markets and an employer of choice.

4. Why is your company such a great place to work?
Co-operative Financial Services is a unique organisation as its values are at the heart of everything it does. These values apply to how it treats its people, its customers, its partners and the community. It proves every day that it is possible to combine success and good ethics. That for me makes it an employer of choice and a great place to work.

5. How does HR win hearts and minds in your business?
HR wins hearts and minds by creating a business climate where people believe in the organisation and in themselves. The term “empowerment” has gone a little out of fashion in HR circles, but the concept for me is still true. I have never met a successful person that is frightened to make a decision or doesn’t feel in control of their own destiny.

Great companies have HR functions that are holding the climate (very gently) in its hand. Reminding leaders that it is because people feel able to be brave and be courageous with their decisions, that positive business results are being achieved and when tough times come, not to take away individuals’ opportunity to do the right thing.

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