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Employee Quick Fire questions for Jackie McGhee – Head of HR Europe

14th February 2013

Jackie McGhee joined SunGard Availability Services in November 2010 as head of HR for the UK (her role expanded to cover Europe a year later) from a subsidiary of Hewlett Packard where she was HR manager for the UK & Ireland. Prior to that, Jackie worked in HR for the ambulance service where she took an active lead in the merging of four separate organisations into one. She also spearheaded an initiative improving employees’ terms and conditions, which she describes as “a positive project rewarding people doing a life and death job.”

Jackie originally trained as a nurse but says there are parallels between her two careers: “They’re both about giving people the tools they need to perform to the best of their ability. In nursing that might be crutches, in business it’s training and support.” Together, Jackie and her team are responsible for providing a well-structured, nurturing environment that encourages the staff who provide our services to excel in what they do.

What attracted you to SunGard?

I really liked the culture of the organisation! From the moment I set foot in Reception for my first interview, I felt the care, attention and high regard that SunGard has for its customers and employees.

What does your job involve?

The organisation has experienced a number of exciting changes in recent years, and my role has grown accordingly. I’m responsible for about 1,000 employees in seven countries (out of around 3,000 across 13 countries in Availability Services worldwide).
Demonstrating the importance SunGard places on developing its people, I report directly into Keith Tilley, our executive vice president for Europe and cloud, and attend leadership team meetings. With the help of my team (five in the UK, a
business partner in France and seven in India) I ensure we have a global framework in place that is understood by our employees and allows them to perform at their best. One of our main differentiators is the quality of our people and the service they give our customers, so we want to do what we can to support them and provide them with the right environment to grow. It’s also about ensuring we have strong management so we provide effective leadership and we actively grow the ability of our managers.
As a global business, we have a set of core values but adapt our standard policies on a country by country basis to ensure compliance with local legislation and to reflect regional and cultural differences.

What are your professional qualifications and accreditations?

I’ve been a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) for ten years now and have a BSc Degree in Psychology, which I did as a mature student when my two children went to school. I’m an ACAS trained mediator, trained job evaluator and also hold a certificate in coaching. At SunGard we encourage all our employees to pursue professional development opportunities and, practising what I preach, I’m in my final year of an MSc in Coaching &
Behaviour Change, which I’m studying at Henley Business School.

Have you won any awards?
While working for the ambulance service, I was nominated twice for Support Services Employee of the Year.

What qualities do you need to be successful in your job?

It’s pretty important to like people! Most HR professionals would agree that we see the full spectrum of personalities and behaviour during the course of our careers. We get to see people at their best, and also during times when things are going badly.
You need to have the resources to balance patience, support, trust and enablement with a strong commercial awareness. I work according to the belief that everyone comes to work every day to do a good job and to make a difference – it’s important never to lose sight of this basic truth.

What achievement in your current role are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to single out just one but during my first year here, I decided to handle our European employee engagement survey in-house, drawing on the skills within the business to deliver this. Not only did this provide an opportunity to access new skills, it also gave us more of a stake in the content and our responses to the survey feedback. It also enabled the costs we would have incurred using consultants to be invested elsewhere in the business. It was a real team effort: the HR team designed and piloted the survey and we had help and support rom the business at different stages. or instance, providing feedback for the pilot, translating the survey into French and getting to grips with the online tool used.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I’ve got the best HR team in the world. That’s a great start to every day and together we always deliver results.