Why HR should walk in someone else’s shoes

Gaining experience outside of the function can give HR a significant edge, says one senior figure

Why HR should walk in someone else’s shoes

A senior HR figure has urged other industry professionals to look outside of the function for experience, saying it could give them a competitive edge in future.

“I would encourage others in HR to look to gain experience outside HR,” says Evan Bateup – chief people officer at Vista Group, a world leader in cinema technology.

“This could be as simple initially as getting involved in cross departmental projects where you gain exposure, through to the approach I took of jumping cold turkey into other areas.”

Prior to joining Vista in 2016, Bateup’s experience ranged from large listed organisations such as SKYCITY though to start-ups like Sovereign Insurance and international enterprises like Pfizer.

While his career has primarily been in people and culture, Bateup has also held positions in marketing, sales, program management, change management and operations.

“My varied career has been vital in shaping who I am in my role,” he tells HRD. “Getting outside HR and seeing how organisations work, hitting P&L targets etc. means I have a greater understanding of what makes organisations successful and the frustrations felt when dealing with HR from a customer perspective.”

Now in a top-level role, Bateup says he faces regular challenges of leading big teams, having tough conversations and being under pressure to make budgets – all the while engaging staff. 

“It is tough and if I’d never been outside HR I’m not sure I’d truly understand how hard it is,” he says. “It’s about the adage of walking a 1,000 miles in someone else’s shoes.”

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