HR future leader: Aimee Cooling

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HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the function about what they think will shape it

What are your main concerns in HR today?

My primary concern is how we are adapting to the digital world. Our external world is changing faster than we ever imagined and organisations are expected to keep up. But how does HR deliver against ever-changing employee needs when we don’t always have the technology to match?

When we do move with pace and implement new HR systems and software how do we ensure that people across the organisation have the same understanding? How do we ensure that staff have the right levels of digital literacy and what can we do to support them while constantly innovating?

What will become more important for HR over the next five years?

As the capabilities of our systems and software develop and real-time people analytics become more available, the need for traditional HR will lessen alongside the parent-child relationship. This is where we can come into our own and become a more personal, connected HR function developing increasingly adult relationships. We will have more data around our people than ever, which will enable HR to drive business decisions, understand workforce demographics, and drive positive change to meet our needs.

What subjects will HR still be tackling when you retire?

I am a firm believer that if you have the right behaviours and values you can learn the skills you need to succeed in every role. In an ever-changing world some roles need brilliant generalists to bring another perspective and disrupt the norm. Hiring managers may not often think this way and will look for traditional talent. HR needs to continue to push towards the diverse workforce of the future, and help people leaders to understand that sometimes
someone with the right behaviours, ambition and different perspectives will move faster and smarter than someone with only the academic skills.

What do you plan to do to change HR for the better?

Be someone who puts the human into HR and provides everyone with a personal experience. It’s about achieving amazing things with the people I am partnering with and coaching my team to be the best leaders they can. I want to continue to push against the norm in HR and question why we do ‘what we have always done’.

HR needs to continue to show what value it can bring and with our constantly-evolving workforce it needs people who are able to adapt with it; considering both the needs of the individual and the needs of the organisation. I want to help HR move away from its traditional personnel background and evolve into the HR of the future.

Aimee Cooling is people and change lead at Severn Trent Water

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