We were lucky enough to grab 5 minutes with Rudolph Wontumi, Senior Vice President HR & Corporate Services at JCB International (Europe) about his career to date, how he manages his European remit of an international business and the importance of coaching.
What is your HR background?
I studied HR as part of my first degree. This was primarily because I was intrigued by how the academic principles will be applied in the workplace to achieve the desired impact.
My first job in HR was as an Administrative Officer in a Management Consultancy. I then ventured into HR consulting for a while and then went into the hospitality industry and now I work in financial services. I have worked in HR all my career.
Apart from my time in consulting I have worked as a HR generalist, but I have worked on several projects that focused on specialist areas of HR including Reward, Learning and HR processes and systems.
What does your role as HR Director at JCB International entail?
I provide leadership for the People strategy of the organisation. My main focus is enabling the business to get the best out of our people to drive business results, developing our internal talent and creating a conducive work environment where people can thrive.
I work with the leadership team to set the strategic direction, the challenges anticipated, the opportunities the strategy presents for our employees, the gaps that exist and how we can bridge those gaps whilst growing our internal talent.
My role also involves consistently reviewing our work environment, culture and employment practices, and how we can enhance them to retain our top talent and attract quality external talent.
What role does coaching play in your leadership style?
For me coaching is an enabling process in leadership. I believe everyone has good qualities, unique attributes and how they get things done.
Coaching enables the person to enhance their strengths, fine-tune their unique attributes and ways of doing things to make them more successful in their roles.
You have a European remit at JCB international, how do you tailor your approach for different countries or regions?
The key is recognising the cultural variations in the different countries, whilst keeping focus on the desired outcomes. Culture is a powerful influencer on how and why people do things in certain ways. I am careful to understand the cultural dimensions of each location to enable me to engage with them and drive the corporate people and business agenda.
I have been fortunate in my career to have worked in organisations that operate in multiple international markets, so I have learnt how to drive the business in different countries by tailoring my approach to support the local implementation.
As one of my business heroes says, “think global, act local”.
What’s your HR philosophy?
Given the right environment, development and motivation every person has the potential to be the best they can be. HR must be a facilitator of this.
If you could change one thing in HR now what would it be?
Reactivity in meeting the business requirements. It creates the perception that HR is a backing act, instead of the main one.
If people are the most important (and expensive) asset of organisations, HR must enable the business to proactively incorporate people into their key business planning and decisions.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve made to the culture?
Enabling a culture that is founded on the organisation’s values. This has impacted the way the we do things now, from our talent acquisition, people development and recognition.
The positive change in our retention numbers is amazing.
How do you measure the success of your strategy?
Business results and feedback from employees.
When you look at your career to date what has been your biggest achievement?
Debunking the myth that HR is industry/sector specific. I have successfully worked in HR in consulting, hospitality (both in hotels and the corporate HQ), financial services…and still counting.