People Puzzles provided vital high-level HR expertise to help multinational company Praesidiad carry out a major relocation project 18 months ago. Since then, HR Director Janet Wilkinson has continued to support the company’s people projects.
Praesidiad – part of the global investment firm Carlyle – produces heavyweight metal structures such as fencing, flood barriers and safe haven bunkers. Operating across 100 different countries, it has more than 1,000 employees.
Why bring in a People Director?
In early 2020, Praesidiad’s aim was to transfer much of the UK operations for its Hesco brand – more than 40 roles – to Poland to consolidate operations and create a centre of excellence. Time was of the essence so someone was needed to hit the ground running when it came to managing the people side of things.
Janet’s corporate background as an HR director at companies such as Channel 4, Northern Foods and Sears, meant that she was used to working on large-scale HR projects.
From May to September in 2020, Janet delivered the following:
- Collective redundancy consultation with the trade union, plus individual consultation with the at-risk staff and those remaining in the UK
- Knowledge transfer and people transition plan to Poland
- Communication and support strategies
- Planning for a simultaneous relocation project to Italy
Delivering the plan
The relocation was the first major project that Praesidiad had undertaken to make a significant return to its investors, and the intense pressure to deliver the project was compounded by added challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking ownership of the HR aspect of the project, Janet joined a dedicated team to scope and deliver it, which included the CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer. Janet describes this time as ‘high energy, with meticulous planning while ensuring that space, time and resource was devoted to support the affected individuals.’
The number of redundancies involved meant that there needed to be a minimum 30-day consultation process. Staff were given the opportunity to relocate and were offered help to find new jobs. As some marketing and sales staff were being retained in the UK, a separate plan was needed for them.
Once the operations had moved to Poland, key staff were mobilised to document and transfer knowledge. There were challenges – an outbreak of Covid at the UK site closed operations for a week and a whole team had to isolate for 10 days in Poland. Janet recalls having to adapt swiftly to prioritise the health, safety and welfare of staff and their families.
Now that the relocation has been delivered in time and on budget, it has made huge savings in overhead costs alone. Pooling resources in Poland means the company now operates far more efficiently – and with less supply chain shipping involved, its carbon footprint is much reduced.
Since the relocation project, Janet has continued to support Praesidiad on an ‘as and when’ basis, working on specific projects to help the business through a period of great transformation. As well as managing the restructure and relocation of another Praesidiad brand, she is currently supporting the UK operation’s return to office-based working post-lockdown in a new location and coaching line managers to manage their teams effectively in the ‘new normal’.
Simon Lawton, Transitions Director at Praesidiad, said the following about Janet’s role over the past 18 months:
‘Janet is an absolute joy to work with. Her wealth of experience of working with people from an HR perspective gave me the confidence to drive a restructuring plan that supported a strategic business transition that involved moving the core part of the Hesco business from one country to another – during a short space of time and at the start of a global pandemic. I learned a lot from working with Janet and I was very fortunate to have her by my side as a sounding board for a lot of difficult decisions.
‘I was able to focus on planning, change management and execution of the transition, alongside keeping operations running smoothly to provide continuity of supply to our customers, during a massively challenging period for the organisation. This was made possible due to the trusted partner role that Janet performed to lead on all matters HR related.
‘Janet has such a diverse skillset. She is able to inspire confidence in senior leaderships teams, and ensure that people going through any kind of change are given the right level of guidance and support – all whilst rolling up her sleeves to take care of the necessary administration that ensures robust compliance.
‘A true professional that understands business strategy and what’s required to be successful when it comes to people, how to keep them as engaged as possible during tough times and genuinely has people’s best interests at heart, which she demonstrates by going the extra mile to help and support people at every level and in any situation.’
If you think your business could benefit from a People Director like Janet – or you feel you need to review your people structure and processes to help support business grow in the right direction, find out what one of our experienced People Directors can do for your business by calling 0203 239 3307