After two decades in consulting at Accenture, Sarah has moved to the other side of the fence as Human Resources Direrctor – a position she believes will be increasingly pivotal to organisational success. In fact, she predicts we’ll soon see CHROs joining CFOs and CEOs as prime candidates for board positions.

Without P&L or strategic responsibilities, HR was previously considered a ‘soft’ role, with HR leaders rarely being given a true seat at the top table. When I decided that, after decades in consulting, it was time to move into a hands on role – HR is where I chose to make my mark.

For someone with a background in accounting, who joined Accenture to work in client finance, it’s not an obvious move. Surely, I’d want a CFO role? The fact is, I quickly left that job in client finance and transferred into change management in the consulting part of the business. For the last 20 years, I’ve moved between different industry groups, always focusing on supporting client transformation.

So, when I started thinking I needed something else in my ‘kit bag’, I looked for an area where I could gain new skills that will make a difference. With my background in change management and HR transformations, I sought out the next function where both Accenture and our clients have to transform to drive competitive advantage: people.

Breakfast with my colleagues
Breakfast with my colleagues

In our current environment of EPIC disruption, organisational agility is arguably the most important lever we have to drive sustainable growth. And improving agility requires both digital and workforce transformation. It’s not enough to digitalise your back end. You also need a more fluid workforce. People who can change and roll with the punches. People with high levels of learnability – who are going to be resilient and adaptable.

That means big changes for HR, including:

    • Resourcing roles – not jobs. I can’t believe we’re still seeing job ads that say things like, “must have 10 years’ experience”. We should be focusing on how to bring the skills to perform the various roles in that job into the organisation. That means recruiting for capability and learnability – and broadening our thinking about how traditional FTE positions can be resourced differently with automation, contract, flex and part-time workers. We also need to accept and expect that people will constantly move in and out of our organisations.
    • Introducing HR platforms. Just to be clear, Excel is not an HR platform! If we’re going to do things at speed, and help people learn at pace, we need to know where they are and what they’re doing now – and we need ability to model increasingly complex resourcing solutions. So data is critical. A smart HR platform is going to be table stakes in the future. It will take investment and time, but it’s absolutely fundamental to agility.
    • Being clear on purpose – To attract and retain today’s top talent, you need a value statement they can buy into. Our younger generations don’t all want to join a start-up or do charity work – but they do care that the work they do is meaningful. This is where organisations like the banks need to do a better job of articulating the importance of their role in society. Whatever their reputation is right now, the fact is banks help people achieve financial stability or buy a home. I think that’s a story Gen Y and Z might want to be part of.

Speaking at a conference
Speaking at a conference

I believe this area is so important that the HR leads who develop agility for their organisations will soon be sought out as board candidates. Because it’s this expertise that many boards are currently lacking. If your organisation is looking to disrupt, workforce agility is a strategic imperative.

That’s why I’ve chosen to get into a hands-on role in game-changing field of HR.

Christmas Eve with my family
Christmas Eve with my family


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Sarah Kruger

Lead – Human Resources, Australia & New Zealand

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