Article: Integrity is Integral to the company

C-Suite

Integrity is Integral to the company

Jonathan W. Lawrence, Group Vice President Intertek Plc, shares insights on the need to hire for passion and integrity
Integrity is Integral to the company
 

Ecellence in business delivery is ensured by hiring people for their personal integrity and technical expertise

 

Looking at how the spending pattern of global trade is expected to develop, India is emerging as an attractive market, as there is an entire population in India, which is becoming more able to purchase sophisticated products, and therefore, keen to buy both locally and from export markets. This scenario has made India an attractive market, which is seeing more and more products entering the country and more people buying these products, and therefore, more issues around testing, specifications and quality are taking a predominant place.

Intertek’s business helps its customers achieve their desired levels of quality and safety for their products, processes and systems. The emphasis is on testing the quality and the reliability of food, chemicals, aircraft fuel or even telephones, to name just a few. Intertek helps its client organizations to increase the value of their products, gain competitive advantage, and develop trusted brands. Catering to the standards of performance and quality for products belonging to such varied industries, multiplies the talent challenge as each market is different.

Talent is critical to business

People management has always been about finding the right people, being clear on what you want them to deliver and giving them honest and constructive feedback on how well they do it. The criticality of talent in Intertek’s business is defined by the business itself; which aims at verifying products and processes around the world, at all stages of the supply chain, to ensure they meet the required quality standards to enable their success in the global marketplace. A huge challenge in this regard is to make all employees understand the essence of their role: to provide customers with confidence in the quality, performance and safety of whatever they are producing. What Intertek offers its customers is in turn reflected and defined by their employees’ efficiency level in delivery and performance. There being no room for error, excellence in business delivery is ensured by hiring people for their personal integrity and technical expertise.

The people strategy – Keep it simple

A significant effort is required in getting the right people and ensuring that they do the right things in the right way. The aim of the people strategy is to hire those from technical backgrounds - engineers, chemists, or textile specialists - who are passionate about quality performance of the products in their respective domains and sectors.

The challenge for HR is how it should structure a common system that is applicable for the 30,000 employee base spread across 100 different countries and are working in different sectors. This mammoth task has been possible merely due to one lesson that Jonathan W. Lawrence deems essential for all HR professionals to imbibe globally, that is – to ‘keep it simple’. He explains, “My personal view is that if you recruit the right people who have the right beliefs and values, if you are clear of what you want them to do and how you want them to behave, if you encourage them to innovate and the way you reward them reflects the behavior you want, and train them on how the world is evolving, then you get most of what you need them to achieve. And a lot of it starts with a very basic skill, which is to hire the right people.”

At Intertek, there is a network of HR specialists and line managers who are trained to identify and recruit the right people for the business. Their focus on finding people who fit the personality, behavior and nature of the organization is absolutely sacrosanct. Despite being a global organization, locally, it operates as small ‘families’ that work together for a particular customer on a particular product. This approach allows excellence in every delivery. Thus, the efforts at every local office are towards enabling a comfortable environment for people to work together, and ensure teams take ownership on the safety, performance efficiency and quality of the product they are working on. Lawrence opines, “I don’t think anybody can navigate all cultures. So, it is best left to the leaders identified to run the business at the local offices.”

The nature of the business demands a huge emphasis on integrating people who join from diverse backgrounds. Lawrence explains how they simplify the complex business, “If the total business is viewed as one, it might look complicated, but individually, each team catering to each individual product in a particular sector is a simple structure.”

Hire for integrity

Talent acquisition is focused at identifying people who are subject matter experts in the particular product or industry that the business needs to address. Above all, Lawrence reiterates, “The focus is on finding people who can work as a team, and have high integrity on how they do business, because every time an employee interacts with our customer, we are selling a commitment of ensuring extremely high standards of quality and performance.” Thus, integrity of the people as much as their technical competence is critical for business delivery. This, in turn, poses a great expectation on the HR team, not only to look for subject matter experts in various domains, but also to critically evaluate candidates for integrity in how they operate.

While the contributions of Intertek are not directly visible to people, their efforts today help and influence everything that is going on around the world. Its success, despite its complex and geographically dispersed operations, has been possible because of the passion and commitment of its employees, individually and collectively.
 

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Topics: C-Suite, Strategic HR, #BestPractices

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