As Chief People Officer for Clanwilliam, Tara’s mission is to ensure our People are able to ‘bring their best selves and be their full selves’ at work. She plays an instrumental role in driving the talent and corporate culture strategies across Clanwilliam, bringing together diverse teams across three continents.
With the healthcare technology group expanding year by year, Tara talks about some of her key focuses, including recognition initiatives that really work and embedding values as a performance measure.
What made you passionate about HR?
I always saw myself having a career working closely with the more human side of things, but I just wasn’t sure in what capacity.
HR was the perfect gateway into the corporate world using my people skills and bringing them into an organisation. Helix Health, as we were back then, had a really great culture so I loved it from the start and really understood the meaning behind the well-known phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
What was your first mission when you became Chief People Officer?
Ultimately, my role is to protect the profitability and growth of the business by ensuring we have the right people, in the right seats, doing the right things to support all projects, innovations and budgets. Much easier said than done!
A key focus for me early on was to harmonise and align key people practices, programmes and policies to ensure people are focusing on what needs to be done instead of the way they work.
Because of my own development journey and being lucky enough to receive numerous educational opportunities, I was eager to create a recognition programme for key talent or rising stars across Clanwilliam. The Clanwilliam Elevation Programme was borne out of this – an intensive personal development programme for rising talent to attend in Dublin’s HQ followed by 6 months of mentorship and an educational programme. We welcomed our first alumni in 2021 and we’re aiming to go bigger each year so watch out for 2023!
Where do you think Clanwilliam really excels in the People and Culture space?
I like to say it’s about our People not having that sinking feeling on a Sunday evening. In order to achieve that, we make Clanwilliam a brilliant place to come to work on a Monday morning by viewing our people as ‘whole people’, with busy lives, drivers, passions and development opportunities both inside and outside of their job.
We focus on crafting appropriate policies and ways of working that truly support this – flexible working, parental and family support, parent return to work coaching, paid charity days, work from abroad freedom, professional development programmes tailored to skills and passions, CSR activities that People really enjoy, and substantial year round mental wellbeing and EAP assistance.
I believe that ensuring people have a good work/life balance results in happier, more effective and more productive teams.
How is inclusion and diversity influencing the Clanwilliam People strategy?
Clanwilliam is committed to creating a safe and supportive working environment for everyone. We prefer to use the phrase Equality of Opportunity. It’s one of our values and a central part to the way we do business .
It’s our core belief that every single person at Clanwilliam is here on merit, because they are brilliant at what they do and the right person for their role – irrespective of race, gender, age, social class, orientation or any other factors.
We’ve introduced some brilliant initiatives, including coaching, training, and webinars, in this area and as with many things, this also comes down to reinforcing the culture and making everyone feel that they belong here. We’ve strong passion to continue to drive this forward.
What challenges to you foresee on the horizon for HR teams?
It’s an interesting time work in HR with such sweeping changes happening across the world of work from the demise of the traditional 9-5 model and the rise of the technology revolution. The changes we make today are shaping the future of the next few decades which is pretty exciting.
The biggest challenge in this era revolve around returning to a shared office space. While we absolutely believe in mutual flexibility and the importance of a healthy work life balance, I do feel sometimes that we’re missing something with teams so separate. Presenting to the office creates space for innovation, collaboration and connection. When teams are present together, in a stand up or in one of our creative zones there’s a magic to that moment that you just don’t get on a screen.
The challenge for HR teams is driving that connection to the mission of the company and encouraging people to collaborate in person more regularly. It’s a good problem to have; how can we create and spread more magic that leads to deeper connection, better innovation for our healthcare customers and growth for our people? Watch this space!
What initiatives have you got planned next?
This year, we will be launching our newly refined corporate values that signify who we are as an organisation, over 25 years since our we were founded, and what it truly means to embody Clanwilliam.
We’ve a team of over 1050 people, spread across three continents in multiple locations, so having a unifying set of values that help guide the way we work towards our mission is really powerful and gives a sense of shared purpose and belonging.
We’re in the process of rolling out a new HRIS system that will allow us to streamline how we set our annual objectives, recognise performance and embed our values into our performance reviews; my fellow HR readers will understand the huge levels of excitement to get this project complete!
We are also finalising the roll out of the Clanwilliam People Management Academy, a programme focused on upskilling and nurturing our line managers. Driving high performance and accountability is essential for our continued growth so aligning that activity with the great work our People Managers are already doing made sense.
Finally, our very popular walking challenge initiative is also returning this year. It originally launched during covid to encourage movement as part of our wellbeing plans and continues to be a huge hit with our global teams competing for a top prize. It’s a really fun way of connecting team members from around the world and building on the Clanwilliam connection.
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