For our latest Big Interview, Rosie Jenkins spoke with Chloe Lewis, UKI Client Director at Alight Solutions to hear more about her career.
How did you get into HR?
I actually didn’t enjoy school too much so ended up going to my local college and doing a Business Studies BTEC National Diploma and loved every minute with HR being my favourite subject and lesson.
I was lucky enough to do my work experience at Wrigley’s in the HR department and the rest was history.
I then went on to do my degree, CIPD, Masters in HR and my career in HR started.
Did you – or do you – specialise?
I have been in many roles throughout my career, but mainly business-facing HRBP roles driving commercial performance with a business leader, however, I have also stepped into specialist roles.
In BAE Systems I did a recruitment role, Lloyds Banking Group a Head of Learning role and while at Sainsbury’s, alongside my HR Director role for the North, I was the Talent Lead for the retail division driving the retail talent strategy in partnership with the CofE. I also took time to step into a commercial role at AdviserPlus leading a team of 100 managing ER out sourcing shared services for Barclays, Tesco and Vodafone.
I am currently spending my second time out of HR in a commercial role managing the UKI clients for Alight and it’s fair to say all my specialist and generalist experience helps me engage and consult with our clients about their technology, HR and digital transformational needs. I believe taking time to learn and deliver in broader and specialist roles helps build broad capability at the CPO level.
If you ask me where I get my fire in my belly it is definitely being embedded in the business or working with our customers at Alight.
What challenges do you face?
Currently, my role is supporting Alight’s customers in driving digital transformation and technology-enabled change.
We know the biggest two challenges across HR right now are getting access to data analytics and insights followed by cloud transformation.
We support our clients every day in these challenges to deliver their people strategy and business priorities.
What are you most passionate about within the HR field?
I am truly passionate about working with business leaders driving a truly inclusive high performing culture.
Being truly inclusive brings the best out of colleagues, ensuring that everyone can bring themselves to work and has a voice.
ED&I is currently high on the agenda, what are you doing in this area?
In my current role as Director of Client Management, I am focusing on discussing with clients how we can support them in their ED&I priorities through HR transformation and technology.
It is such a key priority that has to be insight and technology-enabled, which our HR platforms must focus on delivering.
Alongside this, and as a leader in Alight, I am helping drive internal and external thought leadership, education and actions which drive change across the UK and continue the great actions Alight already has in place.
What trends do you see in HR in the next 12 months?
Really great question and in my role you would expect it to be centred on digital transformation driving better colleague experience.
We have heard the buzz words of colleague experience, digital transformation, technology-enabled colleague experience and I feel with HR teams being stretched and distracted with Covid for the last two years we need to support them catch up with the same digital transformation we have delivered for consumers.
The PwC technology survey shows cloud optimisation and transformation is also a big priority for HR teams.
What impact has the fourth industrial revolution (technology) had on HR?
As I have already said, Covid has been so distracting for already stretched HR teams.
Having lived through the pandemic in an operational HR leadership role it was incredibly tough to just keep the wheels on and given the pace of change thrust upon businesses because of Covid I feel HR now have to catch up, developing a technology-enabled people strategy.
The great resignation, the war for talent and the tough external market has highlighted the need for technology to enable these strategic priorities.
How has Covid 19 changed your HR delivery?
What I saw change most in HR during Covid was the fluid nature we had to be agile and change our areas of focus to support business priorities.
Businesses changed so quickly, in Sainsbury’s we delivered more change in 12 months than we had in the previous 10 years and it accelerated strategic business decisions that HR needed to be agile and shoulder to should delivering these changing priorities.
What would you change with the benefit of hindsight?
Covid made organisations move at an unprecedented pace of change, why didn’t we operate like this before?
Why didn’t I challenge harder?
In the future, I’d challenge much harder any businesses level of stretch and ambition.
What advice would give you your younger self?
Well, where do I start?
I always say this when I mentor to engage with talent groups – be bold, push yourself out of your comfort zone and take risks.
But what I don’t think I did through my career was be true to myself.
I have wanted to move home to Cornwall, where I grew up, for the whole of my career.