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How Did I Get Here? Sue Schoormans, Managing Director, Complete People Management Ltd

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Managing Director Sue Schoormans reveals why enforcing policies that are biased towards women may be the only way to get HR to board level.

1. How strategic is your current role and what does it involve?
I am the Managing Director of my own HR consultancy company, founded in 2003. At present I am the business – the only employee. I have total ownership and therefore responsibility for all aspects of HR including vision, strategy and operations.

My role involves total HR Management, ensuring that all clients’ HR needs are met, whatever they may be. This is no different to working in an HR department of a company where directing, supporting and advising the internal customer of managers and directors is required.

I constantly update all HR documentation, including HR policies and procedures, employment forms and letters, in line with legislative changes and employment tribunal findings.

2. How is the HR function perceived within your organisation?
HR is the business and therefore is fully integrated. I have no excuse for it not to be!

I always maintain that my clients are the business’s greatest asset. Without my clients there would be no business and I suspect therefore that the perception of the business is good.

3. How does your business use HR practices to get ahead?
I subscribe to various e-newsletters covering HR and general management and am on the Board of a Norwegian international and professional women’s networking group. I therefore have the benefit of seeing best practice from the UK and Norwegian perspective. The information from all these sources is used to develop our internal HR practices.

Our HR practices are fully integrated into the business and are replicated into our clients’ businesses – clients like them because they provide direction and solutions to their business issues. Our HR practices therefore allow us to get ahead through and with our clients.

4. Why is your company such a great place to work?
It is a great place to work because I have total ownership for the business – total accountability and responsibility for the business direction and its day to day operations.

5. How does HR win hearts and minds in your business?
This is a process of integration: firstly by solving very simple issues to gain the credibility of fellow employees or clients in my case, then talking to employees or clients to “get under their skin”. This allows me to identify what makes them tick and understand fully their needs. I can then implement a plan of change (where necessary) that makes employees or clients feel valued through total and real involvement in the business direction.

6. Will HR survive outsourcing and changes to service delivery?
Yes. It will give HR the opportunity to operate at the strategic level that it truly deserves, if HR professionals are able to convince other business leaders of this.
The trend of big businesses to outsource, smaller or medium businesses generally not being able to afford to employ a permanent HR person or department and HR professionals starting their own consultancy businesses has resulted in an increase in HR outsourcing and this gives HR a real opportunity.

In my previous HR positions I always had in mind that I wanted to make my role redundant by giving managers total accountability for their people. Certain HR roles do have a strategic element but more often than not, heavy operational or administration is the main focus.

Outsourcing is a real opportunity for HR – to remove the image of being office based, and replace it with a truly integrated strategic business partner.

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