At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to speak to Alex Quinn, Head of Talent, Leadership and Organisational Effectiveness at Rolls-Royce, who spoke to us about making a positive difference to the people she leads and her own priorities and goals post-pandemic.
There are two moments that stick in my mind around the severity of COVID-19:
The first was sitting in an incident support meeting in our office, following the initial spread of the virus in China. I was updating the team on our approach for our teams in China and that it looked like a few weeks until we would open the office. A member of our risk team sat across from me, explained the risk mitigation plan in case of a pandemic. I remember thinking, fantastic, someone has been planning for this and has procedures written down…the plans have evolved a little since then!
The second moment was during Boris Johnson’s press conference. We were in the middle of our first remote GirlGuiding meeting and we streamed it to our Rangers (ages 14-18). I cried my eyes out, it was as if the magnitude hit me all at once. I then had to explain and convey my emotions to those young women when we didn’t have any answers, we only knew that the world was going to be different to what any of us had planned. Being open, sharing our thoughts and feelings has been essential throughout, even when it’s been hard!
I was in awe of the whole team I worked with during those early weeks and months. They navigated uncertainty for themselves, unprecedented business conditions and treated our people with care. They have continued to do this for the past 18 months. Our People Team are incredible – true HR Heroes.
Moving fast to protect our people, keeping the human in hr
Seeing the longer-term opportunities in the short term decisions we had to take
Investing time in people; my family, my friends and my team
Knowing what’s around the corner with this virus
Moving fast with little information
Being physically distant but socially connected
Prioritising our talent and diversity; retaining, developing and stretching our people to reach their potential as the technical and people leaders we need to make the business successful.
Succession planning has always been important in our People Agenda, but I think the pandemic and how we reshaped and resized our business crystallised a few things.
You have to know your people, what their strengths are, what makes them tick, what their aspirations are and what their potential is
We must have diversity in our succession plans and if we don’t have that internally, we should look at the market externally
Specific roles will likely change, so succession pools are often more useful than specific plans
Retention is very personal, so a one size fits all approach doesn’t work!
We started by identifying the talent we needed to retain, working with line managers to facilitate the right conversations. Based on these conversations we put plans in place.
Specifically for our leaders of the future, we have launched a number of new development programmes to retain and progress them.
I’d pour myself a large glass of wine and say ‘you did your best, working hard and caring about those around you – give those colleagues a call, meet up in person (!!), say thank you and reminisce about everything that happened!’
Stay curious and always look for opportunities
I say to my GirlGuiding Rangers (aged 14-17) that I would never question what happened to you in the pandemic but I will look at how you responded.
So your A-levels were cancelled, what did you do with the time?
So you were made redundant, what were your next steps?
So you were put on furlough, how did you use the time to give back or learn?
I had a baby boy in June this year, so life has completely changed! I think the motto of “Work hard and have Fun” still works though…in fact, it is even more important and it is exactly the ethos I would love my little boy to learn.
If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about Alex, you can connect with her on Linkedin or follow her on Instagram at @thehumaninhr. Alternatively, you can learn more about Rolls-Royce from their careers website.