Rich Sliwinski is HR Manager at Mitsubishi Corporation of Europe, he spoke with Rosie Jenkins about his career and advice he would give aspiring HR leaders.
How did you get into HR? Have you specialised along the way?
Like so many HR professionals I started my career in customer services/operations and fell in love with helping people.
I learnt early on that helping your internal customers is, in my opinion, even more rewarding than the unpredictability of external customer demands.
I retrained and achieved my CIPD qualification and have never looked back.
I have always tried to coach and support employees and colleagues through their challenges and this is what I feel we should always strive to achieve.
As an HR Leader, this gives me the unique opportunity to encourage others to follow the same path. My passion is to achieve the impossible through teamwork.
What challenges are you and your team currently facing?
Employee engagement while the chips are down. With so many operational and financial challenges in 2020, keeping our colleagues safe, healthy and motivated has been our biggest challenge while working remotely.
Through numerous employee engagement events, open communications and monthly newsletters we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel!
How has Covid-19 changed your role? What lies ahead (trends, topics) for you in the next 6-12 months?
My role before Covid-19 was 90% strategic, 10% operational.
However, the ratio has now changed to become more operational through the crisis, all senior leaders need to flexible and contactable to ensure we can support our colleagues when they need us most.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion is hot on the HR agenda at present, what actions have you taken around this topic?
This is one of the real positives to take from 2020, finally, companies are listening and respecting Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.
There are a number of existing actions that Mitsubishi was already taking.
These include staff training on unconscious bias, structuring interviews to avoid gut feeling decisions, awareness campaigns and open forums to discuss how we can improve.
What impact has the use of technology had (the fourth industrial revolution) on how you deliver HR to the business?
Technology can be a real asset but if used incorrectly a real pain. I am a firm believer in keeping up to date but do not overstretch your team just to have a fancy new software programme that needs fine-tuning constantly to adjust to your requirements.
Try and make long term decisions and reference new technology thoroughly before purchasing!!
What would you change within the benefit of hindsight?
I believe we need to make mistakes to improve as professionals. We make decisions based on several factors, sometimes we get it wrong.
We should always learn from our mistakes and reflect.
However, I would love the opportunity to amend my lottery numbers to get more numbers right!
What advice/hints/tips would you give an aspiring HR leader?
Believe in yourself.
The biggest hurdle for many HR professionals is not knowledge, passion or skills. It is confidence in your own ability and values.
Try and project confidence and others will listen.
It’s a small change but really helped me.