International · 17. August 2021

Ireland: Principal Connections talked to Ken Foley, Head of HR at CNP Santander Insurance

What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR leaders today?


“The pandemic has irrevocably changed the world of work. It’s clear that some form of hybrid working model will be a consistent feature in the foreseeable landscape of many organizations. There are many advantages to a hybrid approach. However, I believe that it is incumbent on HR leaders to be cognizant and sensitive to the negative, unintended consequences of hybrid working. For example, more and more research is being published that highlights the increase in inequalities faced by women in the workplace. The strides made by many organizations regarding diversity and inclusion must not be eroded as a result of hybrid working models.”

What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?


“In recent years, within HR circles, there has been an explosion of interest in and debate around the confluence of HR and technology. It would be foolish not to recognize the positive advances that technology has had on the HR profession. However, I’m a firm believer that in a post- pandemic world HR needs to “get back to basics”. What do I mean by this? Providing the best employee experience is single-handedly the most important issue facing HR leaders. Technology can enhance employee experience but cannot replace it. For me, here’s a simple example: It is inarguable that video interviewing is inferior to an in-person interview located in the office of an individual’s potential new workplace. As Mickey Harte said, “you cannot email a handshake”.
I’m also a strong advocate of coaching. There has been an upsurge in the published research into the benefits of coaching. Some years ago, Google’s People Innovation Lab started Project Oxygen. Their initial hypothesis was that manager quality does not have an impact on performance. To prove this point they hired a group of statisticians to evaluate the differences between the highest and lowest rated managers in Google. They examined data using past performance appraisals, employee surveys, interviews and other sources of employee feedback. In fact, they proved that good management does actually make a difference. Moreover, Google identified the ten behaviors of their best managers.”

Top of the list? The best managers are good coaches! Creating, instilling and, crucially, maintaining a coaching culture should be on the agenda of every HR leader.

Kevin Foley
HR Leader of the Month for August 2021
CNP Santander Insurance

Agilium Worldwide

Dr. Matthias Rode is the Regional Director EMEA of AGILIUM Worldwide and your main contact in Germany: For any questions please contact him directly.

Founded in 1984, Agilium Worldwide LLC is an international executive search group of independent, owner-managed retained executive search firms, with members who are active in virtually every market. Agilium Worldwide ranks among the world’s top 25 executive search organizations.

Agilium Worldwide’s member firms offer personalized, specialized, client-oriented services. By eliminating the formally structured, pre-programmed approach they can remain proactive and secure prompt, skilled and expert service to their clients, to help them find the “Perfect Fit” – the right person for the right position, at the right time, at the right location.

Agilium Worldwide member firms are trusted advisors to companies from the Fortune 500, as well as to upcoming and start-up companies around the globe. Clients get the best of both worlds: an entrepreneurial approach with global reach and local perspective.

Verfasst von: Agilium Worldwide

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