The First 100 Days as CHRO at Wolters Kluwer
Who: Bill Baker
What: Chief Human Resources Officer at Wolters Kluwers since June 2021
Interviewed by: Frans Dagelet
How would you describe your first 100 days as a CHRO, seeing that you started in the middle of a pandemic?
‘I would describe them as exciting and unique. Adopting the role of CHRO in the middle of it certainly presents its challenges, but thankfully we were able to adapt to people working from home quickly. Customers say they could not have gotten their work done nearly as well without us. So I think the challenge for me was continuing to deliver that support, and prioritizing the health and safety of our colleagues.’
How do you support employees during the pandemic?
‘We did a lot of surveys, and launched an enhanced well-being program in 2020/2021 for our employees. It helps people find balance in a world where your personal life and your work life happen in one room. That has given us a framework we can continue with.’
Were you prepared for how the pandemic changes work and flexibility?
‘I do not think you can prepare for a pandemic, but you can have feedback mechanisms to hear from people. There is no doubt that an event like this changes the way people think about work and interacting. That starts out of necessity. But once you adopt a different model out of necessity, you start to realize: ‘Well, maybe the old model is not right either’. We have always been working across different geographies and different time zones; the pandemic just brought that conversation to the forefront. So this is an opportunity to cultivate a sense of belonging for employees. That is a real focus area for us going forward, because at the end of the day, we are a people business, right?’
What was it like for you personally, becoming CHRO at a company you already worked at?
‘That has actually been very helpful for me. I joined the company as the head of HR at one of our business units, which helped me learn a lot about the business. But now I am not only reacting to that, I need to make sure I know it. So having the right connections with the other leaders across the business and a really strong level of support within the company is something I have been cultivating.’
What is your main priority as CHRO at Wolters Kluwer?
‘Going forward is making sure you have that talent equation right. So I am keenly focused on continuing to mature our understanding of our workforce. How do we identify talent? How do we bring them into the organization? How do we create connectedness? Pandemic or not: That has always been at the core of HR at Wolters Kluwer, and will continue to be.’
This interview was published in Management Scope 02 2022.
This article was last changed on 09-02-2022