What are the biggest challenges of being an interim HR director? We ask Sharyn Wilson

What are the biggest challenges of being an interim HR director? We ask Sharyn Wilson

Sharyn Wilson has over 10 years’ experience as an interim HR Director, having worked across a broad range of sectors including retail, finance and healthcare. Most recently she has worked as interim HR Director at WorldPay, a leading payment processing company.

What are the biggest challenges of being an interim HR director?

The nature of interim work requires the ability to absorb information quickly in order to hit the ground running straight away. This can be challenging if you are working on placements across varied and complex sectors and necessitates the ability to retain significant amounts of detailed information while maintaining focus on the broader business objectives. The fixed timelines associated with interim placements can also raise challenges; for example building much needed relationships with a team quickly but without it being too forced.  

What do you consider to be the key changes occurring within HR currently?

Increasingly, there is onus upon HR executives to source and use analytics to help build business plans. There are some HR teams that may be undertaking research into colleague satisfaction and other vital metrics, but aren’t making use of them. Businesses need to be procuring and acting on insights in equal measure.

More recently there has also been debate about the value of and the appropriate use of annual performance reviews. Businesses should continually review colleagues, give constructive feedback and help develop them, and not just have a conversation annually. Effective performance management is very important for the business and employee engagement.

Can you provide an example of a placement where you have helped deliver change within the organisation?

There have been a number of placements that have called for business re-structuring. This has included hiring new members of the executive team, redefining accountability and introducing KPIs. In a recent placement, my role was to ensure that these changes were executed smoothly and to foster engagement with executives.

Could you tell us about your role at WorldPay, what were the objectives of your placement?

During my placement at WorldPay a key business objective was to deliver an excellent customer journey and thus ensure customer retention whilst also attracting new customers. My role was to provide support as the company reviewed and revised some of its internal processes in order that this objective could be achieved.

I also worked closely with the Chief Information Officer and Technology executive team to help orchestrate WorldPay’s separation from RBS, to ensure sustained efficiency of processes post-separation. This meant that from a technical perspective we needed to have the right skills and resource in place to ensure all systems were implemented and running smoothly for the transition.

In your opinion, what key trends in the financial sector are driving interim demand?

Technology is currently revolutionising the financial industry and this poses both challenges and opportunities. Many companies are revaluating business plans in order to capitalise on technological advances and current and incoming regulatory changes. Likewise, many are grappling with how best to position themselves and allocate resources in the most efficient way. Interims with relevant experience can play a critical role in helping to support business restructuring, the implementation of new technologies and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Any advice for others considering become an interim?

One of the best things about working as an interim is the variety and flexibility. However, to benefit from this, interims must also be flexible. Indeed, one of the most important skills an interim can have is the ability to adapt quickly and easily.  

Sharyn Wilson is a senior Interim HR Executive


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