Get to know your peers in the HR community through our career profile series. Today, we talk to Kevin Hough, group head of resourcing at LV= about his career journey. He reveals how resourcing has become his absolute passion; from starting out as an I.T. consultant for the British Army and a special constable in the police, before the HR director at LV= spotted his potential. Hough is now responsible for resourcing across the LV= Group.
Name: Kevin Hough
Job: Group head of resourcing
Current employer: LV=
CV in brief:
- 2011-present: Group head of resourcing, LV=
- 2010-2011: HR delivery manager, LV=
- 2008-2010: Senior project manager, LV=
- 2006-2008: Senior project manager, Zurich Financial Services
- 2004-2006: Project manager – information management, National Policing Improvement Agency
- 2002-2004: EDMS consultant, British Army
A day in your life
Tell us about your job and organisation
Resourcing is my absolute passion. I’m responsible for the resourcing across the LV= group, there are 6,000 people who work at LV= across 23 locations in the UK – and my team recruits approx. 1,800-2,000 roles a year, both internally and externally.
A large part of my role is also about developing and bringing the LV= employer brand to life. I believe that every single person should be a brand advocate of the organisation, that means being a brand champion myself, and role modelling that.
Who do you report into?
The group HR director, who also sits on the executive committee for LV=
Tell us about your team
They’re a very big reason why I do my job. They’re a really passionate group of individuals, extremely hard-working and supportive of each other, with a real diverse range of skills and talent, and that makes us what we are today.
We pride ourselves on ‘our successes’ rather than necessarily individual ones. When the pressure is on, everyone will help – including myself. Everyone will muscle in until the job gets done without being asked, and this is really, really powerful to me. It sounds like a real basic, but it’s something we’re proud of.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
It’s the team, the growing and getting the recognition for the great job they do.
- People tend to stay at LV= for a long time, so it’s great to see those people you’ve hired doing well, and having successful careers
- Seeing the organisation move forward, having the right people and the right talent, and being a part of that
- One of the things that LV= is extremely proud of is that we’ve been voted as one of the most trusted and recommended insurers in the UK. Our challenge therefore is to ensure that we recruit the right people to continually fulfill this promise
What is the most challenging part of the role?
Ensuring you’re keeping up to speed with recruiting talent in today’s world. It’s really easy to get bogged down with the here and now. Social media is a good example: you’re busy spending time on Facebook and Twitter and before you know it there’s a new channel that’s probably more effective.
I really enjoy sharing our stories, talking to others and actually looking at what’s happening outside of LV= too. We launched a survey to our people to help develop our employee value proposition (EVP), and it’s really great to see the level of input from our people and senior leaders. It shows that they’re engaged and interested in what we’re doing.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Predominantly lots of meetings, but I love to spend as much time with my team as I can. Sometimes we go for ‘coffee chats’ where we just wander off, sit down, have a coffee and don’t talk about work. It’s really important to get to know the whole person, both inside and outside of work, it’s nice to hear about their lives and I want them to feel they can bring their whole selves to work.
Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?
The culture and the challenge. Back in 2008, LV= didn’t have the best reputation in our local area, so I was really interested to go in and find out more. When I interviewed for my first role, I found out there had been lots of change and a new team management team brought in, and I remember coming out of that interview thinking: “Wow, I want that job.”
Thank goodness it worked out, as I’ve not looked back since.
Perks and downsides of your role?
Perks – if you position yourself in the right way, you have a chance to really shape the future of the organisation.
Downsides – high pressure, if things go wrong they go wrong, and sometimes people like to blame recruitment – for example if people leave. The challenges of this role are never-ending, you’re always needing to evolve, but that’s another reason why I love it.
What skills are essential for the role you’re in?
Understanding how the business operates and having great communication skills. In addition, being forward-thinking, having a commercial-brain and acumen and understanding that you’re not just a little department in HR – you’re one of the centres of expertise to help drive the organisation forward.
How did you get to where you are now?
I started off at a small I.T. business consultancy. The experience there was fantastic as the managing director really helped me hone my stakeholder and project management skills. I’m still in touch with him today.
As part of this role, I worked as a consultant for the army and police, before securing my first role at LV= working in their change and IT function. It was then that the HR director at the time approached me to head up some large people projects, and my HR experience started from there.
When I first started out in my career, I think I was naïve and didn’t understand the breadth of HR and that you can have a really fantastic and diverse career. It was a real journey for me, personally and professionally, as it was tough to convince fellow peers I was the right person for the head of resourcing role. I didn’t have any HR or recruitment experience as such, so it was really great to prove myself and get their buy-in and really develop and grow the resourcing function.
I’m very self-critical, and always thinking: “What can I do next?” to make our resourcing function even better – watch this space!
What were your best subjects in school? What and where did you study?
My favourite subjects at school were science, craft design and technology. I really enjoyed that and then I went on to study Information Systems Management at Bournemouth University, and that taught me I.T. isn’t always the answer. It gave me a real balance between business, I.T. solutions and people.
What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?
My first ‘real job’ was my placement year at QinetiQ. It was here that I met the MD from Focal Point Systems, Paul Hamill, who really took a chance on me and saw my potential. He offered me a permanent job after my degree and I believe its thanks to Paul and my time at Focal Point Systems that has shaped who I am today.
Have you followed the career path you set out to?
I don’t think I ever had an exact plan. Back when I started out, I thought I’d become a large programme manager or a chief I.T. officer, or something like that. I thought I’d always stay in projects and change management, I never thought I would end up in HR.
Now recruitment, talent and HR are definitely what I want to do.
What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?
My key challenges in the early days were convincing people I could do the job and make a difference. To be successful, you don’t need this long career in HR and all the certifications to go with it – not that I’m advising you not to do that – but I think it’s about having the right mindset and sheer determination.
If I ever I do external presentations, I prefer to talk about my mistakes and how I overcame and learned from them, and that’s what I want to hear from others. I want to know what they’ve done, how they’ve approached something – as I want to learn from them as well. I think building on your own and other people’s experiences really grounds you as a professional.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?
It’s probably the level of physical training I had to endure when I joined the police. And having CS Spray sprayed into my face – that was possibly the highlight, and lowlight, of that vocation.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The LV= team winning the ‘Best in-House Team’ at the Recruiter Award last year. I remember when our name was announced, it was an absolute picture seeing the team’s faces – they’d worked so hard. I’ve actually got the picture from the event on my desk and I absolutely love it. I’m so proud to work with my team, and it makes it all worth it.
Do you have any career regrets?
Not really. I continued being a police officer during my time at Zurich and the early days at LV= but just didn’t have the time longer term to do both. I’ve got a lot of respect for people who work in that world but then my career progressed with LV= and I’ve not looked back.
What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?
Talking and connecting with people in the industry and understanding their experiences and challenges.
Connecting with internal and external mentors can be really powerful. It really surprises me when people don’t tell anyone about their aspirations. If you don’t tell anyone, no one can help develop you or be aware of what career path you want to take.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Enjoy it more, don’t have any regrets, and take on those experiences. Whenever I walk into Bournemouth University to do a presentation or meet some students, it makes me think of my time there. The memories come flooding back and I think: “I spent four years there and I didn’t enjoy it enough.”
- Coffee or tea? Coffee – I like a Starbucks to give me that morning buzz (Americano with hot milk please!)
- Jam or marmalade? Sweet strawberry jam – I don’t like the bits in marmalade
- The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles – my mum used to be a massive fan and played their records all the time
- Mac or PC? I would love to say I’m a trendy Mac-Man, but it’s definitely PC
- The Guardian or The Times? Well, I do enjoy some celebrity gossip from the Daily Mirror. Jokes aside, The Times
- BBC or ITV? The BBC – no adverts!
- M&S or Waitrose? M&S – I like to think I shop there all the time, but I clearly I don’t…
- Morning or night? Definitely morning. I’m up early every morning and even at weekends, make the most of the day
- Rain on snow? Snow, I love snow – I’m such a big kid
- Sweet or savoury? Sweet. It has to be a Snickers
- App: Nike Fuel – it’s like a similar concept to a Fitbit, it tells me when I’m being lazy and when I need to get up and do something
- TV show: Modern Family – it makes me cry with laughter every time
- Band: David Guetta – something you can have a good dance to! *Sync Nike Fuel*
- Song: ‘Put ‘Em High’ by Stonebridge – it always makes me think of great times and makes me feel fantastic
- Book: Anything by Peter Jones, a crime detective based in Brighton
- Sports team: Bournemouth FC!
- Thing to do on a Friday night: Going out for a curry and a nice glass of wine to relax
- Place to eat: Indi’s in Westbourne – they’re amazing. The food is fantastic and the people are too
- Holiday spot: New York at Christmas. I like to immerse myself in the magic
- Piece of advice you’ve been given: Treat people the way you want to be treated
By Sarah Clark
Online features editor at Changeboard
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