HR future leader of the month: Kessar Kalim

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HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the function about what they think will shape it

What are your main concerns in HR today?

There’s a recurring theme among business leaders that HR functions still do not ‘get the business’ and are rigidly bound by process and procedure at the expense of seeing the bigger picture. A strong, value-adding and strategic HR service can help facilitate improved organisational performance through people. I experienced this firsthand in my previous role as an HR business partner at Cafcass – where HR colleagues worked in partnership with line managers and senior leaders to support organisation transformation.

What will become more important for HR over the next five years?

At the macro-economic level ageing populations present a threat in many EU countries. HR’s role in areas such as succession planning and workforce development over the coming years will be crucial. Supporting cultural shifts around ways of working will also grow in importance. A recent report from the Work Foundation and Citrix found that more than 50% of organisations and individuals will be working flexibly by 2017, so HR’s role in helping businesses embrace flexible working while continuing to meet clients’ needs will be vital.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

Recruiting, retaining, rewarding, engaging and upskilling workforces are pressing challenges. These will become even greater issues in the coming decades as the average tenure most employees serve in one role continues to decrease. People are much more open to changing roles, moving sectors, and even changing careers than ever before and I suspect this trend will continue.

What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?

I am a passionate believer that HR can do more than simply offer advice. HR is in a unique position in most organisations as the key link between different stakeholders and senior leaders. We should use this to help inform our approach to the services we offer and potential value we can add. Changing the shape of the HR industry is not a task anyone can tackle or achieve alone. I believe that by more HR professionals being bold, creative, innovative, challenging conventional norms, being comfortable with risk, embracing new technologies and taking a holistic approach it will help shape the HR industry for the better.

Kessar Kalim is an HR partner at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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