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Annie Hayes

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How Did I Get Here? HR Director, Camelot Group

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Steve Thompson explains why the use of jargon has no place in his HR department at lottery outfit, the Camelot Group and why having a sound understanding of the commercial position within the business is an essential element of the HR mix.



1. How strategic is your current role and what does it involve?
Camelot is a unique company operating within the unusual circumstance of a seven year life cycle. This timetable drives the business agenda and the people strategy is then derived from this agenda.

It is important to always be forward looking in any business but it is even more important in my role as a member of Camelot’s executive team; to look ahead and to anticipate the people implications of working within this time frame as a company, covering each different scenario and developing plans accordingly.

I also work closely with my executive team colleagues to ensure that Camelot’s people policies and practices are effective in helping the business achieve its goals.

2. How is the HR function perceived within your organisation?
For any HR function to be truly effective it must understand the complex demands of the business and what strategic changes need to be made and crucially when to make them, in order to keep each department at its best.

I and my team recently undertook a review of the HR function which resulted in the HR Business Partners being much more closely aligned to specific operational areas of the business.

I want Camelot’s People Function to be seen as a driver of culture change within the company through effective people policies, change management and employee engagement. Business Partners are now able to proactively identify and anticipate people issues and changing needs before they arise and to work with managers to develop effective interventions.

But as a company Camelot is always evolving, driven by innovation and the desire to challenge ourselves at every opportunity. This has helped to recently deliver the longest period of growth in the lottery’s history, to create the most effective interactive lottery in the world in under two years and to raise more than £17 billion for good causes to date.

Rest assured no department within Camelot is ever complacent and the People Function is no different.

3. How does your business use HR practices to get ahead?
Strong leadership is key in the performance of individuals, departments and the business as a whole.

Camelot has developed a series of behaviours that all staff, managers and directors work to encourage: passion, creativity, active and open working relationships both internally and externally, responsibility for the contribution individuals and teams make to the achievement of commercial objectives and encouraging decision making across the company while maintaining appropriate support structures.

These clearly stated behaviours provide a framework for all staff to understand what is expected of them and what effective performance looks like.

Robust quarterly goals, review and rating process provide continuous feedback and development and effective performance management.

Feedback is further sought from staff via an annual staff survey, a staff consultation forum and an annual action plan is communicated and actioned to ensure feedback is acted upon.

4. Why is your company such a great place to work?
We come into work today in the enviable position of making Britain a better place. Camelot raises £23 million a week for good causes and more than 200,000 grants have been given out so far funding the biggest programme of civic re-generation this country has seen since the 19th Century.

There is a strong sense of pride in the company at what is being achieved for the nation, and everyone understands what their contribution to this is. There is strong and effective leadership and clearly stated values and there are genuine opportunities within the company for people to progress and develop.

5. How does HR win hearts and minds in your business
Commercial awareness is a key criterion for anyone operating within the HR area in Camelot. We have to be plugged into what is happening within the business.

Making sure that we understand the pressures and challenge our managers face, and the commercial tensions which arise in a business whose job it is to raise as much money as it can from the sale of lottery tickets for good causes, while ensuring that we do not encourage excessive or underage play and that we protect vulnerable groups in society against products that may be harmful to them.

We have to talk their language and avoid HR jargon. We also pride ourselves on delivering on our commitments and making things happen for our business areas. Finally we are receptive to feedback and ensure that we are champions of change, not resisters.

6. Will HR survive outsourcing and changes to service delivery?
Yes. HR will survive and thrive. It provides an opportunity for HR to raise the bar and to focus on people strategy and the issues that really affect and impact the business. As an example, HR in the future will be working with managers to develop and implement solutions to managing absence that will improve business performance rather than focusing on recording absence.

7. What’s the new skill set of HR?
Functional expertise should be a given. Once this threshold has been achieved, skills need to include consulting skills; strategic thinking; change facilitation; project management skills; coaching; commercial awareness and business acumen; self confidence and assertiveness.

8. What’s the worst thing about working in HR and the best?
The best is seeing business performance improve as a result of effective HR policies. To see talented people progress rapidly through an organisation and have a real impact on the business is a real buzz.

If I had to pick a worst, it would be hard, but I think it would be managing the consequences of poor people management. Turning this round however, quickly becomes one of the best things about the job.

9. What are the key issues preventing HR professionals from getting a seat on the board?
Failure to seize the opportunities to influence senior executives at times of key business decisions. Not being tuned into the real business agenda and keeping an eye on the external as well as the internal landscape.

10. If you have a mantra/motto what is it?
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! But understand the line between persistence and stubbornness.

11. What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Fowler – which is excellent. Before that I read the DaVinci Code which I think was over-rated, seeing how the film version turns out could be interesting though.

12. What would be your desert island disc?
Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.

13. If you could have lunch with three famous people, dead or alive who would they be and why?

  • Andrew Flintoff –he epitomizes fair play and sportsmanship.

  • Jane Austen – I am sure there was more to her than the demure figure everyone conjures up in their mind.

  • An old soldier from WW1 – I am fascinated by military history and would love to have a first hand account of what life was really like in the trenches.

14. If you’d like to be remembered for one thing what is it
Integrity!

Previous career profiles can be seen on the How Did I Get Here? page.

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Annie Hayes

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