HR in the hot seat: Steve Rowe, HR guru and former head of HR for Laing O’Rourke

HC talks to Steve about why great HR starts and finishes with leadership and why you should treat every day as if it’s your very first day.

Steve Rowe, HR guru and former head of HR for Laing O’Rourke

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Hard to pick one piece of advice but if I had to I would say it’s “treat every day as if it’s your very first day” …allows you to remain optimistic and enthusiastic in tough times.

What challenges do you think HR will face over the next 10 years?
In Australia the challenge will be to remain relevant and heard during a time of economic downturn. Our ability to rise to this challenge will depend heavily on the quality of the leading HR practitioners 

What is the favourite part of your job? And which part of your role has proven the most challenging?
I love the strategy work…nutting out where to invest in people and culture and hard-wiring that in to the business strategy.
The most challenging part would have to be working with senior leaders who are overly confident that they know all the answers and have closed off to the possibility of doing things differently

What do you feel is your biggest professional achievement to date?
At work that would probably be managing an HR team of 400 across 15 countries across Asia-Pac during time of major change.

What attracted you to a career in HR? 
Like many I fell in to HR. I came out of Uni in the UK at a time when graduate jobs were scarce and had the vague notion that I wanted to do something with people.  I was lucky and got straight in to a demanding HR role at the age of 21 and haven’t looked back. 

Which areas of HR are you most passionate about?
Leadership - great leadership drives everything else - culture, engagement, productivity. Great HR starts and finishes with leadership

Please complete this sentence: If you weren’t working in HR, you would be…
…probably working in the field of clinical psychology


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