HR in the Hot Seat: Effie Fox, HR and Communications Director, Canon Oceania

by Victoria Bruce20 Apr 2016
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best career advice I have ever received was “to be more rather than do more”. As I have progressed through my career and from a leadership perspective it is so important to be present and be yourself in your pursuit of delivering results. We can get so busy at times that it is important to keep focused on the big picture and the most important part which is our people. Also my favourite quote is:
“Employees will often forget what you say. They will often forget what you do. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

What challenges do you think HR will face over the next 10 years? 

The greatest challenge for HR is that the profession’s relevance is being questioned. This is largely due to the fact that the measureable outcomes of HR programs and interventions are usually qualitative and thus in difficult economic times the return on investment is not always immediately evident in monetary terms. Further the knowledge of what the HR function can produce and the business impact it can have is so varied and to a large extent not understood in terms of the scope that is entailed. Someone told me once that competitors can copy your products but they cannot copy your culture and so this is a competitive advantage and it is in this area that I think HR programs in collaboration with business leaders have a huge role to play.
Also technology is continuing to disrupt the industry therefore it is critical for us as HR professionals to harness the value technology presents to attract and retain the right talent.
We also can’t ignore the impact of putting the latest technology in the hands of our people to enable them to work more effectively – which will be vital to stay ahead of the curve, and remain competitive in the market.
Lastly, roles are becoming increasingly ambiguous and wide-ranging. Businesses are seeking talent that can wear many hats and is adaptable to an evolving environment. Specialist skills are also important and better insights into the talent pool will help us match people to the right roles.

What is the favourite part of your job?

Making a positive impact on organisational and leadership behaviours, authentically engaging our employees and keeping our people at the heart of our brand is the favourite part of my role. Kyosei is Canon’s corporate philosophy and lies at the heart of our brand, business and sponsorship activities. Kyosei is a Japanese word that means living and working together for the common good – a principle that is embraced by all Canon employees. It shapes our mission and our values, the way we treat our people and conduct our business. I like having the opportunity to be brave and implement initiatives that are real and impactful with our people at the centre of everything we do.
Which part of your role has proven the most challenging?

Of course there are times where difficult conversations need to be had which can be challenging, however, at the same time it can be extremely rewarding if you can solve a conflict or difficult situation and come out the other side in a better place than where you began. Interpersonal skills often get overlooked but these ‘soft skills’ are the foundation to building authentic and trusting relationships that survive in courageous situations and through difficult conversations.

 What do you feel is your biggest professional achievement to date? 

My greatest professional achievement was to be lucky enough to transition from my finance profession into the HR profession and to utilise my business acumen skills in all of my HR roles. I am very proud of HR programs that have made a measureable difference to an organisation’s culture and people as well as the company’s financial success.
At Canon I am proud of my involvement in the implementation of a high performance working program at Canon. The world of work has shifted and this was the catalyst for change at Canon, as we realized that the business needs to be built around our employees and the tasks they do, not the other way around and importantly that the way we work should reflect our brand. The change initiative offered our workforce the chance to develop and build an environment that best suits the way they work. Employees are at the heart of the Canon brand and our workplace revolution was driven by the understanding that business culture, reputation, innovation and prosperity lies in the hands of our employees. Most importantly, we recognise that everyone works very differently, and our workplace culture needs to reflect that.

What attracted you to a career in HR? 

I have always believed that HR programs and interventions, when built fit for purpose, have a huge impact on the success of an organisation and have a profound positive affect on people’s lives. I have been fascinated by psychology, what makes people tick, what motivates them and makes them go that extra mile to drive real business impact, productivity and job satisfaction. I’m passionate about creating a work environment that is enjoyable, where employees trust their leaders and are enabled to work in a way that best suits them and that allows them to bring their ‘three-dimensional self’ to work and be themselves.

What are some of the challenges particular to Canon? 

Like any industry, crafting and establishing pragmatic HR programs that cater to business and people needs and are measurable in terms of the qualitative and quantitative impact on success is a multifaceted task.
At Canon we undertook research that identified three different types of employees; focused, balanced and mobile. The entire office space was constructed with the three working styles in mind. Desk formation, meeting rooms and common areas were tailored to support Canon’s new hybrid working environment philosophy. Employees were also provided with a desk setup and technology to support their preferred style. Navigating these differences and respecting everyone’s preferences is something that we’ve been working really hard on.
Please complete this sentence: If you weren’t working in talent, you would be…

A jewellery designer! I have a passion and eye for amazing gems and jewels. Anything sparkly really!

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