DisruptHR London: Interview With Chris Withey

ChrisWitheyChris Withey works with Oracle as a part of their cloud HR Systems sales operation. He engages with both business and technical professionals to help define their problems and understand if Oracle is able to provide a suitable solution.

Chris questions, listens and works together with HR professionals so that they are able to achieve business and personal goals. He is also more than happy to act as a source of information for those unsure of the advantages and challenges between ‘on-premise’ and ‘cloud’ solutions.

Chris has a wide range of experience, from starting his own business supplying specialist staff into events all around the word, being part of the Harvey Nash team in London, and managing a multi-lingual team of consultants at Portland Resourcing.

This month, Chris will be one of the speakers at the DisruptHR event in London and we got to ask a few questions about his talk and his views on HR. You may find more information about the event here.

HR Gazette: Why did you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR London?

Chris: I enjoy speaking to groups of people and trying to provoke new ways of thinking about our day jobs.

HR Gazette: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR London?

Chris: I will be giving a creative analogy specific to HR systems.

HR Gazette: What separates DisruptHR from other HR and Talent events which happen in London? 

Chris: From what I can tell from the way it should run, it will be much faster paced and high energy. In theory, it will avoid death by PowerPoint..

HR Gazette: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros?

Chris: Hopefully I will summarize that in my 5 minutes. In short, it will give a new perspective on the HR systems we use.

HR Gazette: The DisruptHR format means you only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges and opportunities does such a condensed speaking slot offer?

Chris: I really like this concept. If you can’t summarize & deliver your point into 5 minutes, most audiences would switch off anyway.

HR Gazette: How does DisruptHR provide you with a platform to talk about Talent, Tech, and HR in new ways?

Chris: Two ways:

  1. Use innovative ways of communicating common HR issues/solutions.
  2. Gather current topics of conversation from the other speakers on the night.

HR Gazette: You’re a big name in the HR space. Please share 2 or 3 other ‘influencers’ in the space who you follow and tell us why.

Chris: I’m not a big name on the list but aspire to become one. I work for one of the largest Softwasre companies in the world and therefore have a great network of people to speak with regarding their daily thoughts and struggles.

Other than companies I follow, I enjoy content from: Jennifer Arnold @jenparnold

HR Gazette: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture‘. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you?

Chris: It’s hard to define. There is a real difference between big business and small business. In a small business, a big sell is in the ‘people & culture.’ For a big business, although they will have their company policies that will define their ‘culture,’ the individual teams will almost act as small businesses with their own ‘people & culture.’

In my eyes, the easiest way to describe the people and the culture is to think of groups of friends going through the school system. Similar people all tend to stick together and form their groups. I think this is the same in business. Think back to school, imagine taking the child that spends their lunchtimes playing in the school orchestra and putting them in the playground to play football with that group of kids. I appreciate that is a massive stereotype but in my eyes, it’s the same as taking a banker and putting him/her into a local government office.

HR Gazette: What do you think will be the major developments in the UK Talent and Recruitment space to watch out for in the next 12 months and why? For example, how does the growing numbers of Millennials in the workplace shape traditional talent acquisition and people management approaches?

Chris: I think the biggest changes will be with the increase of technology and internal teams focused on driving recruitment & talent management. More businesses are leveraging the technology to both allow their HR professionals to be more proactive in their roles and ensure that they are retaining the right people in their businesses. Attracting talent is becoming easier with HR systems leveraging the power of social networks that all Millennials have imbedded in their lives.

HR Gazette: Finally.. if you could be a superhero, which superhero would you be and why?

Chris: Batman – Always thought he was awesome.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
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