It wasn’t easy. “One, you have to remember what you’re saying across different cultures, and stay consistent to keep the team going — all those things,” Hill says. But now, as his resourcing organisation has developed, he can rely heavily on regional and global leaders within his team for much of the day-to-day phone contact with his far-flung recruiters.
However, make no mistake: as vice president of talent and resourcing for global advanced technologies firm Invensys, Hill still operates very much on the frontline of setting the company’s hiring world to rights. Invensys, which has a presence in more than 100 locations around the world, will recruit around 2,500 people over the next 12-18 months.
Hill is a longtime in-house resourcing professional who began his career as an agency recruiter. He exudes a calm, quiet confidence, often displaying a fatherly pride in his spiritual ‘offspring’, his team of recruiters, who among them speak 18 languages. Previously, he spent six years at mobile phone firm Vodafone where, he suggests, he “got traction” in recognising that the candidate experience was a competitive advantage.
“At Vodafone, it was very easy to realise that the candidate was a potential customer. If you’ve got a great reputation, you’ll get the talent,” he says. “It’s a philosophy, and if you ask any of my team about me, that’s what they’ll talk about. That underpins my whole philosophy on resourcing — a brand-aligned candidate experience.”
Based at Invensys’s Chippenham, Wiltshire offices where he recently met with Recruiter, and in London, Hill is also a believer in sharing knowledge across the miles and time zones. And he is particularly proud of how the culture of knowledge sharing and creativity within his team has deepened and expanded over the last year. A widely available collaborative software tool has not only opened the door to greater connectivity and creativity within Invensys’s recruiter community but also positioned it for enhanced communication with hiring managers.
“How do you keep everybody talking together and sharing knowledge?” he asked rhetorically. “I mean, 70 people, with average tenure three to five years in recruitment around the world — there are hundreds of years of experience just sitting in my own team and lots of great ideas!”
The software involved was Microsoft SharePoint. Hill and his personal assistant, Lynne Parker, were using it as “a project management tool. It became almost a document repository to start with”, Hill explains. “And from there we just started to play around with it. We found ‘the art of the possible’, and it’s almost like an interactive internet now… a true social media tool.”
The Invensys recruitment team’s deployment of SharePoint has blossomed wildly, involving a broad variety of information and connectivity links from live RSS feeds, Wikis, country profiles, to creative conversations and think tanks, as well as “all of our processes, brand collateral, blogs — everybody talks”, Hill says. “It’s not only about connecting and sharing knowledge of what you know, it’s also about learning. So we do our induction through it. It’s got everything on there. We’re also started to develop a Hiring Manager tab that they can access the tools they require to work with the recruiters.”
Initially, when Hill and company began their experimentations with SharePoint, “it was more about how do we retain all this knowledge, and how do we keep all of the great stuff we’ve done live in the business. The more the teams were involved in having a look at it, the more we found we could actually do”, he explains.
Now, he says: “It’s amazing how it’s taken off. I’m amazed every day when I log into it just to see the activity that’s gone on overnight. It’s a one-stop resource for the team and hats off to the team. They developed it. They’re constantly sort of on it and I’m just trying to keep up.
“It’s becoming a bit of a monster,” Hill concedes, “but it’s been fantastic really.”
Hill’s commitment to ‘best in class’ resourcing extends to the design and structure of resourcing teams, a topic about which he admits he gets “quite animated”. Hill contends that in-house recruiters are too often limited by their organisations to providing strictly reactive services, with recruitment frequently playing the role of the “poor relative” in the business. The design and structure of resourcing teams should be based on what is going on in the business, as well as promoting high-touch support for hiring managers who want a consultant to help them with their recruiting needs, he argues.
“That’s why I think often the design of resourcing teams doesn’t help,” Hill says. “If you’re asking that recruiter to do that higher touch piece of work, you can’t expect them to do all the office management, pre-screen every single candidate, talk to the 500 CVs that came in, manage the advert that goes out, manage all the jobs boards — you can’t ask for everything.
“You can’t put undue pressure on the teams,” he continues. “First thing, you’ve got to set yourself up for success.”
The confidence Hill exhibits in his professional beliefs around resourcing is more than equalled by a wellspring of personal self-confidence that he attributes to overcoming a physical challenge early in life. Born with a large birthmark on his forehead, he had the blemish removed as a teenager. Today, a flesh-coloured bandage still covers the wound. “It’s a scary thing when you’re 18 — you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says of the surgery in which the mark was removed.
But he credits his experience with helping him to have “no fear” about any given situation and to have “no issues” with anyone else’s appearance. “I understand what it’s like,” he says. Plus, he adds, “I had to develop my sense of humour.”
When in India, where many of the Hindu faith believe the forehead is home to a “third eye” that is a gateway to spiritual consciousness, Hill finds he is often asked why his third eye is covered up. “They’re worried about me,” he says.
Today, what makes a day great for Hill? “There’s still something about phoning up someone and offering a career opportunity, and they say yes. And then,” he laughs, “you realise you’ve got to do a hell of a lot of paper work!”
With a broad remit of responsibilities that range from talent management to diversity, he deals with fewer candidates than before and those he works with tend to be at a very senior level. However, their seniority doesn’t eliminate the key element of the interaction.
“I still think it’s down to that people connection,” he adds, getting serious again. “All the stuff we use — it’s so virtual. All of this great technology today is brilliant, but it’s priceless when a person walks in to the job on the first day, and they know you and thank you for helping them get the job, when in reality they did all the work.”
Secrets of Success
“I don’t take a lot of time to reflect on my own personal success as such; I like to look at other people on my team. I don’t necessarily recognise the success in what I do because I’m always looking for something new, something challenging to do that’s going to be a differentiator”
2009-present: Vice president talent and resourcing, Invensys
June 2006-March 2009: Head of talent management, Vodafone
June 2003-June 2006: Head of careers and resourcing, Vodafone
April 2002-June 2003: Head of resourcing, Caudwell Communications
1999-2002: Director, resourcing, Bookham Technology
1996-99: HR manager Europe, Spargo Consulting
Education: Henley Management College, University of Hull
Invensys has three individual businesses:
• Invensys Controls
• Invensys Operations Management
• Invensys Rail
Year ended 31 March 2011:
• Employed 20,664 people worldwide
• 14% of employees were based in the UK
• 12% of group revenue came from the UK
• The largest percentage of group revenue, 31%, comes from the rail transportation sector