· Features

Future leader: Alice Smallwood, people partner, CAA-GBG Global Brand Management Group

HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the industry to discover what makes them tick

I began my career in the HR team at Burberry. This gave me exposure to a variety of characters from creative to corporate which taught me the life-long skill of being an HR chameleon, adapting my approach quickly when supporting different business functions. 

The future of work is at the forefront of many HR professionals’ minds and it’s certainly top of my list. Yes, the last 18 months have been a challenge, but there have also been many positives and, for me, it’s important we don’t lose sight of these. 

What the leaders of tomorrow think:

Lauren Turner, senior HR advisor, British Library

Sarah Cousins, organisational change manager, British Heart Foundation

Toby Lott, regional people manager, PKF-Francis Clark

I believe the five-day working week is a thing of the past; we used to occasionally work from home, now we can work from anywhere. HR will play a crucial role helping to balance the newfound flexibility, while continuing to meet the needs of the business. After months of being forced into reactivity, I’m hopeful we can rapidly shift to proactivity as the world embarks on a new normal. 

A key focus will be the generational mix of our workforce. Within the next five years, a large portion will be millennials, with different expectations and working styles. They aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and will be looking for rapid change and results. 

Change – some hate it, some love it, but it’s here to stay and most of the time it really is for the better. For me, the important point is how we support employees so that change doesn’t feel disruptive. Managers need to ensure that employees feel their voice and opinions are valued. 

HR is more than just hiring and firing. The HR function has been spotlighted in the past 18 months; supporting business leaders to reshape workforces in response to changes in not only the world we live in, but to also adapt to a change in consumer needs and mindset. 

I would love to see HR teams recognised for the work that goes on behind the scenes to make all of this happen. HR have a strong commercial voice and play a key role in helping businesses to achieve their people and business goals. 


This piece appears in the July/August 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.

If you would like to nominate a member of your team for our future leader column please get in touch.