HR in the hot seat: Jon Bowker, national talent acquisition manager, KPMG

by John Hilton17 Jan 2017
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is something you don’t often consciously think about day by day, but is so important to your success in any organisation. That is, to understand and manage your personal brand in the workplace. It’s important to reflect on what you stand for as an HR professional, and then how you demonstrate and model those values and ideas that forms the way others perceive you. It’s not about being disingenuous to succeed, but to show sincerity, humility, and striving to achieve the best outcomes that you can, This will impact on your personal brand and set you up to ultimately succeed.
What challenges do you think HR will face over the next 10 years?

Without question, this has to be automation, robotics and AI. And how this revolution will not only impact the services that HR provide, but also impact all departments within organisations, and how we as HR professionals manage the impact that this will have on people. The way we hire, train, develop and support people through these challenges will form the foundation of any HR team’s success in the coming decade. However, with this challenge comes great opportunity and I believe HR is well positioned to firmly entrench itself at the executive table as leadership looks to HR experts to guide them through these issues.
What is the favourite part of your job?

Working on important initiatives that can directly impact on the success of an organisation. I enjoy working with a great group of HR and talent acquisition colleagues who are all dedicated to sourcing the best talent and improving every aspect of people related services to KPMG.
What is your biggest professional achievement to date?

Within talent acquisition, people can point to million dollar cost savings, or improving quality of hires, or overhauling referral programs, or streamlining and automating processes. These are good achievements to hang your hat on. But for me, sourcing and developing a team of highly professional and high performing recruiters at KPMG is the most satisfying achievement to date. It takes a team effort to achieve this, but understanding the market where recruiters sometimes move around regularly, and having such high quality people who are loyal to the cause is a great result for the firm.
What attracted you to a career in HR?

I’ve always been interested in the combination of people and organisational performance and being able to build relationships and influence the decisions that people make. I studied commerce, majoring in HR management back in the day when not many HR positions existed! But with plenty of recruitment agencies around, I fell into recruitment (as we all do!) and have thoroughly enjoyed the role ever since.
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?

My wife and two boys keep me fairly preoccupied outside of work, which doesn’t leave a lot of spare time for hobbies. But I do enjoy holidays to Bali (supporting a charity which funds education and restores sight for the people of Bali) and mentoring an indigenous student through AIEF. I'm also a ‘wannabe’ landscape gardener / builder tinkering around my house, a keen sports follower, and ex musician (played the flute and avid fan of The Dave Matthews Band).
If you weren’t working in HR, you would be…

In the Centrelink queue! I couldn’t imagine not working in HR, but there was a chance I could’ve slipped into Law, or maybe Financial Services.