Rebekah Tapping, group HR director, Personal Group
1) Have a varied career, in as many sectors, in operational roles as well as HR, and in as many HR specialisms as you can. If you want the top job you’ll be expected to be comfortable with all aspects of it.
2) Don’t be afraid of fear. Take the step that scares you the most; it will be the most rewarding.
3) In HR you’re likely to be more successful if you seek to understand then use your knowledge to help find the best solution for the business and its people.
Charmaine Norville, chief people officer, Shazam Entertainment
1) Listen. Ask for feedback about your career and how you are doing. Also, listening really helps you understand what matters to people. As a general rule, listen to anyone who serves up an opinion, inside or outside your company. Interestingly, it’s both the folks who are most engaged and also the least engaged who offer valuable insights. Don’t dismiss any opinions.
2) Be human. No-one is perfect and it’s easy for HR professionals to hide behind policies. But you have to work hard to be the leader that you want to work for or that your kids would work for. While the snarky email or snippy response is easy it achieves little and sets the wrong precedent. Always treat people with respect.
3) Never stop learning. Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted recently about curiosity not being nurtured in schools, leading to the loss of the love for learning. I am fascinated by why we do the things we do! I read constantly about what drives people and one of my favourite pastimes is people-watching. I think I’m a better leader, mother and human because of my curiosity.
Natalie Bickford, HR director, Merlin Entertainments
1) It’s important to take a risk. Put yourself forward for jobs that you are not quite ready for, or for projects that are a bit of a stretch. If you wait until you have the full set of skills and experiences you will get left behind. This is particularly important for women.
2) Build relationships with as many people as possible – and don’t be hierarchical about it. Being approachable, sociable and interested in others is a long-term investment that will pay dividends time and again.
3) Business leaders embrace HR folks who understand the commercial realities of the company and who act as genuine partners to them. There is nothing worse than a stream of policy and process coming from a remote HR team.