HR future leader of the month: Andrea Hunter

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

I’d like to say being an HR professional was part of my grand plan, but I left school not knowing my career preferences. I decided on a business degree and chose personnel management because the modules looked interesting and it had a compulsory year in industry. Now we know it as human resource management… and it turned out I quite liked it.

Our profession needs to be better at being part of the business not a bolt-on support service. There will always be transactional activities, as with every department. But HR is also strategic and can be part of the solution to some of the biggest business problems. This can be challenging when there are legislative red lines we can’t cross. But if we aren’t included in the discussion we can’t explain why, or help our business make
something work.

Keeping me busy at the moment is ensuring we continue to support our employees and create a stable environment while the external influences in the world around us are making this quite challenging. Our people are the ones who will get us through this and it’s important to balance the business challenges with continued investment in our people; we in HR have to be creative about how we do this.

I’ve recently become hooked on learning about how our brains work. This began with neuroscience and how our brains influence our emotions, which for me is a great way to put some science behind what a lot of people think of as ‘fluffy’ HR. I started with Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox and am really enjoying Your Brain at Work by David Rock. I’m also studying a graduate certificate in OD.

The most rewarding bit of my job is working with great leaders who balance driving performance with being genuine and supportive. I’ve especially enjoyed partnering newer managers and watching (and hopefully helping) them become great leaders.

The most challenging thing about my job is not taking things personally, while trying to keep it personal. By this I mean that during challenging times like a reorganisation HR is often seen as the instigator, when in fact we are there to ensure fairness. Emotions can run high so you have to balance not dismissing people’s reactions with also not taking on everyone’s worries.

My advice to others is to be open to different ways of doing things. That doesn’t mean you have to move jobs every two years. But do look at and take in how others do things.

Andrea Hunter is HR manager organisation global purchasing at Jaguar Land Rover

This piece appeared in the June 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk. If you would like to be featured in our future leader column please get in touch

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