HR Director Davy Price-Stephens takes on the Back to the Track challenge
I joined Jaguar Land Rover just over six months ago, having previously held a partner position at one of the big four professional services firms.
I have always had a huge passion for cars, so I was really excited about the move.
Throughout my career, I’ve found that the best way to really immerse yourself and learn about a business is experience the day to day of others. In respect of my new role, how can I sit within HR and try to support transformation activities, if I don’t really understand the sharp end of the business, what the root cause drivers are of many of the issues and, in basic terms, just the way things work?
How can I go above and beyond, if I don’t understand first-hand the capacity of others to embrace change and the immediate challenges they face?
Personally, I’d also struggle to feel credible telling people that I worked for Jaguar Land Rover, without experiencing and understanding the core of the business where the product is actually created.
My assembly line experience wasn’t designed as a one-off, over the coming months I plan to work shifts on all of our sites. I’ve also already spent time with our NSC and Retailer network, both in Sales and with the Service teams and Technicians. I’m also keen to explore other areas of Engineering and PTO, in the UK and overseas in the future, to get a real flavour of the entire business.
At EMC, I joined the team in Petrol Assembly and in short, my robot and I were responsible for attaching Flex Plates to about 460 engines, as part of the planned build total for that day.
I think I got to work quite an easy station by comparison to some others, (where I couldn’t mess up or slow down the line) but it was a great learning experience.
It sounds stupid, but for years I’ve been advising clients on business processes and organisational structure, yet to actually see and be part of the physical manifestation of a business process was mind blowing.
I worked a full shift commencing with the team brief and then went through the same on the job training that any new operative would receive, which meant I was really closely monitored to ensure everything was fitted correctly (and also so I really understood what I was doing and what I was a part of).
I really enjoyed being part of the process of making an engine, something tangible; you don’t get that when you spend your time restructuring investment banks.
The other thing I enjoyed was the atmosphere at the EMC; the people that I met and had a laugh with. It’s great to hear people’s stories and get a sense of the genuine passion they have for our company and our product.
The biggest challenge, let’s call it a surprise, for me, when working on the production line, was how little capacity our people have for anything beyond the task at hand.
The briefing at the beginning of the shift is, well, brief… and throughout the day there is limited time to engage with the business, other than through discussions with colleagues and/or managers.
I am not surprised that some of our people do not necessarily feel connected to the business, understand how their role contributes to delivery of our strategy and priorities and don’t necessarily have a full understanding of projects/initiatives that may have an impact on them.
The experience really made me think about how we might be able to engage with our people across our manufacturing sites more effectively, to get them more actively involved in projects that will impact them. And, also how we can improve the HR service delivery model to better accommodate their needs.
The focus on continuous improvement within the EMC is another thing that I will be driving more within my own team and function.
I would certainly encourage other senior people across the business to take up the ‘Back to the Track’ challenge as I genuinely believe that if you are in a senior role, you need to have a full appreciation of our product above and beyond (pardon the pun) just driving to work every day in a very nice car.”