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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Luisa Delgado, regional general manager
Article Type: Practitioner profile From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 8, Issue 5
HR executives share their experience in human resources
Luisa DelgadoLuisa Delgado is the general manager of P&G Nordic.
Mid-2007, Luisa Delgado was appointed general manager (GM) of P&G Nordic. She brought over 16 years’ of predominantly HR experience at P&G to the role, including working in local start-up Portuguese and established UK operations, a global role in project work and regional roles in organizational effectiveness (OE) and labor relations. Her most recent role was a Western European HR leadership position, as HR VP for several years. She enjoyed both her operational and strategic experiences, and in particular the HR role she played in P&G’s transformation from a country-by-country centric business, to global product divisions leading the businesses by categories, and local country clusters going to market.
This background gave Delgado a range of experience with business, organization and people issues and the chance to learn by working closely with senior business leaders through a lot of change. She says: “What I have seen make ultimately the difference in effective change management is the leader’s ability to personally lead the transformation, from the front, behind and alongside people.”
1 Intertwining of career paths
Career paths are changing as strategic business requirements change. For HR, it is acknowledged that an operational assignment in sales or marketing should become integral to the HR career path. At the same time, there is also an acknowledged need to revamp the preparation towards the new local general manager role. Most companies’ business strategies have evolved to leverage more purposefully global scale, while preserving local relevancy. Therefore, organizations have changed accordingly into category and local organizations, resulting in a change in the required leadership roles.
Delgado’s personal belief is that a strategic HR assignment is as beneficial for the preparation to become a general manager, as is an operational business assignment for HR leadership development. And recently one of her best brand managers actually requested a HR broadening assignment “to prepare myself to become a better general manager in the future.”
2 The breadth and depth of HR
An HR career combines breadth and depth. Many companies are organized around HR business accounts on the one side, and corporate functions on the other. Delgado believes that assignments leading over time across the two prepare HR talent for a broad understanding of how the business operates, and for deeper areas of mastery. She comments: “ In my view, it is key to experience both types of roles, to see the total business picture and to acquire technical knowledge to be credible.”
She says that her biggest learning through the business account model has come from the diversity of businesses she has partnered with – small/big head offices, commercial teams and plants. On the corporate side, she has enjoyed mixing talent development roles locally, with OE, labor relations and diversity regionally. She adds: “ Also, work in HR gives great opportunities to engage on complex people issues and to learn what makes people tick – very useful when working with retail customers and consumers, and with corporate partners.”
3 The changing role of the local GM
Delgado says that executive search consulting firm, Spencer Stuart, last year published a good overview of the GM role changes and implications (Birkel et al., 2008). The local leader is called to operate in a new context – internally, because others in the corporation own pieces of what used to be the “local empire,” and externally, because demands are becoming more complex, from more stakeholders. As a result, the skills gaining in importance include interdependent leadership skills, operational discipline, talent attraction and development, and the ability to shape values and culture, including stewardship, deeper commercial skills, corporate representation and networking on key societal topics such as sustainability. The leader’s passion to rally his/her local organization on a clear set of choices is key, as is the ability to build the needed capabilities and deliver via daily operations. Consumer goods and retail are all about detail, through relentless sustainable delivery.
4 Working together for sustainable business
As a GM, Delgado says she expects HR to:
Offer a coherent architecture of simply articulated initiatives, fully integrated in the chosen business strategies, covering organization design/capabilities, talent management, performance management and employee engagement.
Design its interventions with a profound understanding of the needs of employees and management.
Deliver with operational excellence and personable warmth.
Market, measure and renew its initiatives and base operations regularly.
Be always a step ahead, in touch, visionary and courageous – and to never lose sight of the company’s purpose and values.
Together, the GM and HR play a pivotal role in building internal and external trust. She concludes: “Deserving that trust, from each other internally, and from our consumers, customers, and corporate stakeholders, is what sustainable business is ultimately all about.”
About the author
Luisa Delgado is general manager of P&G Nordic. She joined P&G in February 1991 in Portugal as a graduate new hire. Luisa Delgado can be contacted at: email@example.com
Birkel, F., Harper, J. and Speed, E. (2008), “The changing role of the country general manager in CPG multinationals”, Spencer Stuart, July, available at: www.spencerstuart.com/research/consumer/1281/