Transforming Human Resources: An Interview with Scott Kelly, Hitachi Data Systems

Tags: chro

Leah Williams

Transforming Corporate Culture
When you’re looking at improving or driving culture in any organization, it requires focus and the culture not to be taken for granted. That’s one of the things that we do a great job of at Hitachi Data Systems. We really spend time, resources and energy on understanding how we want to shape our culture and driving leaders towards enabling that culture. Part of that requires that they behave and act in a certain way. Our CEO is a very strong exponent and role model of the culture and that has a very positive effect across the organization.
Having the C-Suite adopt the cultural norms is extremely important in driving the right behavior. Our C-Suite were always keen, they just didn’t know how to go about the role modeling. Part of HR’s job is to illustrate what was required from the C-Suite and to support them in being successful.
Global Cultural Challenges
In terms of culture, the challenges across the world include the fact that some of what we see here in the United States and what we feel are important are less important in different parts of the world and vice versa. Money takes a place of real importance in some countries whereas, engagement and recognition is very important here in the United States and elsewhere. It’s really about understanding what the cultural differences are, understanding what’s more important and what’s prioritized and making sure that that’s modeled by Hitachi Data Systems leadership around the world.
HR Initiatives for 2015
For 2015, our priorities at HDS are numerous, but a couple of the key ones include a program to transform our sales force. HR is taking a leading role in that and the reason for that transformation is to address the further transformation that’s occurring in the technlogy industry. The tech industry is transforming at the fastest in some 25 years, so we’re required to transform our sales force and provide the skills for them to be successful in this new environment.
From a transformative perspective, another key initiative that we’re driving is to ensure that our employment brand is valued, not only internally across our entire organization, but also improved in what is one of the most competitive markets for talent in the world.

Adapting to Continuous Change
Adapting to change in real time, or continuous change, is something that all organizations need to improve on. It’s not necessarily part of the core skills that leaders have. We’ve much more tended to approach change as a program-based activity. And whilst elements of that are important to be successful, it’s also important to continue to look for what’s going to be different in the future. Continuous change will become the norm for all organizations.

Question for CHRO Peers
If I were to ask my peer CHROs a question, it would really be, "how do you continue to drive value from your HR function in such a dramatically transforming industry?" The technology industry, of which we’re a part, requires continuous, or iterative, change and driving value while sticking to a standard agenda is very tough to do. So, it’s really about how you remain agile, nimble and continue to drive value without being seen as sporadic, as far as your business customers are concerned.
Skills Sought in HR Professionals
To drive transformation, the skills I’m looking for in HR professionals include some very different skills than were required in the past.
I look for challenge. I look for individuals who can be appropriately disruptive in the organization and challenge everything that we do. I look for the people that I hire to be bold, to have a point of view, and to be confident about that point of view. I also look for them to be innovative individuals who’ve done innovative things. And, finally, I look for them to be data driven. Someone who is analytical, perhaps has come from a non-HR background, are all the types of skills I’m looking for. That’s really helped drive transformation at HDS.
To find these skills, you have to be very creative in terms of where you look. It’s really about not looking in the traditional places, because I think the traditional wells have run dry, in many respects. I also look for individuals who demonstrate the right attitude and behaviors, without necessarily having an HR background. I think it’s about casting the net a lot wider than we did in the past.