How Did I Get Here? Sue Rice, HR Director Accenture

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Sue Rice reveals the secrets of her success and explains how Accenture uses HR practices to get ahead; read her story in this latest How Did I Get Here?

1. How strategic is your current role and what does it involve?
I’d see my role as a real mix. There is definitely a large strategic aspect, working with our leadership to understand the business strategy and how our people strategy needs to support it. This means looking at everything from recruitment plans over the next few years to our skills mix and how we instill and embed our core values and culture in new people in the organisation.

Clearly there is also an operational side, I need to ensure that we keep the ship afloat, for example, making sure our compensation approach stays competitive, managing risk, ensuring our people have good management and career guidance. In addition I am responsible for managing the team of HR professionals working in the firm, ensuring that they have the right skills, support and development opportunities.

2. How is the HR function perceived within your organisation?
I believe HR is perceived as a credible and professional function within our business. We strive to be true partners to the business and this happens in some but not all cases. We really work to give our HR people the skills and confidence they need to be able to engage at the right level.

3. How does your business use HR practices to get ahead?
Our business relies heavily on our people so HR plays a key role in driving the business forward. We have some great examples of our HR practices and initiatives really making a difference. Two clear examples are our recruiting and inclusion and diversity areas.

Recruiting works very closely with the business to understand upcoming demand, ensuring we get out to the market early with some creative focused campaigns. As a group they have shown great flexibility in quickly adapting to changes in the marketplace and meeting our requirements.

Additionally our work on inclusion and diversity has also differentiated us in the market. We have a really committed and creative team driving this out through the organisation and it has been tremendously valuable, our clients have been impressed by it and our potential new recruits and not least our own people really value the focus we give it.

4. Why is your company such a great place to work?
Accenture has great people. Our satisfaction surveys show this as a key reason why people join and stay. Our people are passionate about what they do and have a real ‘can do’ attitude. The work we have is tough and challenging but always stimulating, I don’t think I’ve ever been bored here.

5. How does HR win hearts and minds in your business?
Partnering and hardwork.

6. What's the new skill set of HR?
I’m not sure I see a specific ‘new’ skill set. The world is constantly changing and we need to be able to grow and adapt with it. For me, HR always needs to be commercially aware, we must be able to see issues from the business perspective and then bring our HR expertise to attain the solution, policy is important but pragmatism is key. We need to be robust and feel able to challenge.

7. What's the worst thing about working in HR and the best?
The worst is administration, a necessary evil! The best is really making a difference to your business/client.

8. What are the key issues preventing HR professionals from getting a seat on the board?
Credibility and perceived value. In order to influence we must be able to show our views and perspectives are well founded.

9. If you have a mantra/motto what is it?
Ask forgiveness not permission.

10. What are you currently reading?
The Bone People by Keri Hulme.

11. What would be your desert island disc?
Twist and Shout by The Beatles.

12. If you could have lunch with three famous people, dead or alive who would they be and why?

  • Lloyd George: he was irascible but wrote great speeches
  • Joan Rivers: she is just outrageous
  • Eddie Izzard: he never fails to make me laugh and I want to know how he can wear those high heeled boots

13. If you'd like to be remembered for one thing what is it?
Being authentic.

Previous career profiles can be seen on the How Did I Get Here? page.

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