· Features

The CEO of Crossrail on HR

Crossrail's CEO Andrew Wolstenholme tells HR magazine what skills and competencies he looks for in his HR team.

With organisational effectiveness, collaboration and OD central to Crossrail’s success, it’s no surprise Wolstenholme says he “wasn’t looking for a transactional HR director”.

“I’m looking for people who really do understand the depth and breadth of how organisations operate,” he adds. “I expect the HR director to be one of the strongest people around the board table. I expect them to completely understand the business, to be able to give me counsel around every aspect of the programme, and to be able to interpret the strategies we create together and understand how they relate to the people side.”

It all comes down to creating a culture that makes sure “when people wake up on a Monday morning, they stay with us”. “I’m looking for someone who sees the very broad horizon of an organisation,” he continues. “I expect them to understand the dimensions that make up a healthy organisation that is going through these different phases. Sitting somewhere in that is the HR transactional stuff, but at the top is the culture, leadership, diversity, skills, OD and communications.”

That’s all music to the ears of Rob Jones, head of organisational effectiveness, and talent and resources director Valerie Todd. “In many organisations, HR isn’t at the top table,” says Todd. “And organisations that don’t have HR at the top table are missing a trick. [Here] we’ve got the leaders supporting the whole people agenda.” Jones adds: “In previous roles, I’ve had to create an appetite [for the people agenda]; here I’ve had to sate an appetite.”