An image of Philomena Gray, Global Chief People Officer at Imagination.


Philomena Gray is Global Chief People Officer at Imagination. an Experience Design Company headquartered in London.

For our latest CPO Spotlight, Rosie Jenkins spoke with Philomena about the challenge of recruitment & retention and the EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) strategy at Imagination.

Philomena Gray, Chief People Officer at Imagination.

Philomena, could you share with us your fascinating journey to becoming the CPO at Imagination?

Absolutely! My career has been quite diverse, covering various disciplines and industries. I started in the financial services sector, which was cutting-edge at the time. Then, I transitioned into live events and marketing communications, exploring different organisations and leadership styles.

When the opportunity to join Imagination arose, I was drawn to its global nature, operating across multiple continents. With my background in live events and marketing, it was a perfect fit to understand the needs of the organisation and its people.

I joined as the first female member on the board and took on the challenge of developing an exceptional people strategy.

It sounds like a thrilling journey! In your role at Imagination, how do you tackle the challenge of recruitment and retention within a global organisation?

That’s an excellent question.

At Imagination, we are fortunate in that the industry itself is quite enticing, attracting talented individuals who are eager to learn and build careers in marketing, advertising, and live events.

While it can be demanding work, the rewards are immense as you get to witness the end product of your efforts, whether it’s a successful client project or an awe-inspiring music gig. However, the tech aspect of recruitment and retention poses challenges for every business, given the rapid evolution of technology.

Nevertheless, we are adapting to the changing landscape and keeping a close eye on how tech companies are rethinking their models and strategies.

Speaking of challenges, what are some of the most significant HR challenges organisations face today?

Reward and pay are definitely at the top of the list for organisations globally.

Balancing the commercial aspects of running a business while ensuring proper remuneration for employees, especially in difficult times, is crucial.

Additionally, diversity and inclusion have gained significant prominence. People are becoming more aware and proactive about inclusivity, which is a positive development. However, there is still much work to be done in this area.

Since joining Imagination, how have you further developed the EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) strategy to foster business growth?

Internally, we are working closely with our teams, which consist predominantly of males, to address the specific needs of women and create opportunities for their career advancement.

We firmly believe that EDI is not just an HR issue but a business imperative.

Our dedicated DEI teams take the lead and involve HR when necessary, fostering collaboration and providing support where needed. While we still have progress to make, we are focused on what matters most to our people and striving to create a more inclusive environment at Imagination.

That’s commendable! Since becoming CPO at Imagination, have there been any initiatives that you personally championed?

Absolutely! When I joined, we lacked a team in key markets and a proper system to manage our workforce effectively.

So, we invested in an HRIS (Human Resources Information System) that has been a game-changer. It not only allows individuals to access their own data and documents but also provides valuable insights into the makeup of our workforce, salary details, and more.

It’s not just a commercial and operational tool but also empowers individuals to take control of their data. Moreover, it has enabled the creation of global communities within the organisation, fostering collaboration and connectivity among our employees worldwide.

Fascinating! Does the HRIS platform have an app to facilitate easy access for employees?

Absolutely! Our HRIS platform is app-based, providing complete accessibility for employees.

They can access their data, connect with colleagues, and even create communities within the organisation. It has transformed our onboarding and offboarding processes, making them more streamlined and automated.

Employees can take ownership of their data and have a consistent experience throughout their journey with Imagination, regardless of their location.

That’s impressive! Reward and benefits are always critical for organisations. Have you introduced anything new in that space recently?

To enhance clarity and consistency, we launched a global bonus model, ensuring that everyone understands the criteria, timing, and impact of bonuses. We recognised the need to have a transparent and fair approach, as it was previously somewhat inconsistent.

Additionally, we have been working on our overall pay and reward structure to ensure employees are properly recognised and rewarded for their contributions.

It’s wonderful to see such focus on transparency and fairness. Post-pandemic, how have you addressed the ways of working within Imagination? Is it consistent globally?

At Imagination, we took an early stance on what our desired working environment should look like. Being a live events business, collaboration and teamwork are crucial for delivering exceptional client experiences.

We have established a minimum requirement of three days in the office per week, promoting face-to-face collaboration. However, we also offer flexibility, allowing employees to choose whether to work from home or come into the office on the remaining two days.

This practice is consistent globally, enabling employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance while ensuring effective teamwork.

That’s a balanced and adaptable approach. Lastly, what else is on your HR agenda at Imagination?

Learning and development are top priorities for any organisation looking to nurture and grow talent.

We are about to launch a global e-learning platform that provides bite-sized learning opportunities, catering to our time-constrained employees.

This platform focuses on both career development and personal growth. Additionally, we have revamped our performance management program, moving away from tick-box documentation and empowering individuals and managers to take charge of their growth and development.

It’s a more fluid approach that emphasises clear goal setting and well-being. These initiatives are incredibly exciting, and we can’t wait to see them in action.

If you would like to discover more CPO Spotlights and insights surrounding the challenges of recruitment, head to our LinkedIn page.