Q&A with Swarovski: Technology shifts and the importance of business acumen

Tom Ban, EVP Corporate HR of Swarovski joined HRD Connect to discuss recent technology shifts and the role of leaders in the performance culture.

As a partner of the executive board, how important is strategic and business acumen in a HR team?

I think that business acumen is extremely important for mainly two reasons. One is to really understand what the conversations are about and to contribute about ‘people perspective’ to all these discussions, and to know where to jump in when less important things take over. Secondly, to really remember at all times how important it is for the organisation to be able to follow, to understand the strategic direction and to incentivise the organisation and the right way. This is so that everybody is pulling at the same string, in the right direction at the same time.

How can leaders play a part in creating a performance culture?

I think that is an interesting question because I believe it is the leaders that own the performance management. What HR can do is provide frameworks, policies, tools, ideas and very often the link to frame these discussions. At the end of the day, it is always down to the manager and his or her employee to have meaningful conversations and to create performance between them.

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In your 20 years of experience in change management, how have organisations kept up with the increasing technology shifts, and how can they maintain the transition for future demands?

So I think there are in general, two drivers toward change – either you are a technology company yourself, which I have had the pleasure to work for or you are driven by consumers. If you are in the technology company, you are already lucky to be part of this change and likely to have a passion for it. If you are not a technology company, then you will have to use technology, and it becomes the consumers that drive this change, because they tell you what they would like to use. The transition is therefore maintained when the consumer pushes you to keep up with technology shifts. It is either inside the company or it’s very often the consumers who drive your agenda.

In your opinion, how does the future of HR look?

For me the future of HR is not changing as a mission, it is just changing. I think it already is and will always be the framework, the context and the work environment for everybody to be their best at work. It is complex but it is changing anyway, anytime.

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