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My journey from HR to MD

I didn’t set out to become the MD of a global property company. My career started at Accenture where I was lucky enough to join the graduate scheme.

I stayed at Accenture for nearly six years, moving from HR roles across to the consulting practice and working in client-facing roles for change programmes, primarily focusing on the outsourcing space. Little did I know then that I was grounding myself and gaining invaluable experience for my role now at Instant.

I left Accenture and joined Shell Trading in the mid-2000s. This was a hugely fast-paced environment where thinking about the future wasn’t looking much further ahead than lunchtime.

I held HR roles across a number of Shell businesses and then went into a talent strategy role. Here I was responsible for integrating the talent management and resourcing decisions for seven of Shell’s global downstream businesses.

We developed the first commercial talent strategy and designed a commercial graduate programme, implementing it across 15 countries. Nurturing young talent and getting more people, especially women, into the industries I have worked in has always been a big passion of mine.

I was at Shell for 10 years when I was asked to join the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as HR director.

Here I was working in close partnership with the chief executive and board members on the creation and delivery of the organisations vision, strategic and operational objectives.

A big part of this was to oversee and implement a high-performance culture and effective people and organisational development strategies to enable the RFU to deliver on its purpose of growing rugby in England.

It was at the RFU that I met my now boss, Tim Rodber. Tim was doing some exciting things at Instant: challenging traditional office working and championing co-working and the utilisation of flexible workspace.

Over the last five years we’ve seen that needle shift exponentially as more corporates and larger organisations recognise the need to keep agility and flexibility at their core.

Intrigued by what Tim and the team were achieving, I made the jump to Instant in 2018 and haven’t looked back since. I initially joined as global head of HR, sitting on the global executive team with responsibility for our people and talent agenda before taking on the role of UK MD earlier this year.

Instant helps clients rethink their workspace solutions, combining physical space strategy and decisions with the overall employee experience. This is where my HR background has really come into play.

Employee experience in today’s world coalesces around human, physical (i.e. the workspace) and digital elements. It’s a multi-faceted and complex interplay of systems, one size does not fit all and it evolves as the individual, organisation and external environments change.

We’re working with organisations who recognise the value that a workplace strategy has for business productivity and the morale of their people.

Recent studies show that workplace happiness increases productivity by up to 12% and happy employees stay in their role four times longer – which ultimately enables businesses to service their customers better and drive their own profitability.

At Instant we work with organisations to support their overall business growth objectives, appreciating how the organisation’s culture can get the best out of its people.

The pandemic has pushed the reset button on the way we think about our approach to business and the workplace. It’s important to look through the human lens – what do people want, how can we get the best out of them and how to make them productive.

As the debate over how the pandemic will change the way we work continues, one thing that is abundantly clear is that employee experience is going to hold its place at the top of the agenda for a long time to come. It’s a time for change in both business and HR and I’m excited to be part of it.

Lucinda Pullinger is UK managing director of The Instant Group