Today's postcard is from London

Australia should be proud of its high-quality HR talent.  The Australian HR community is now represented around the world.

Today’s Postcard is from ex-pat Australian Chris Meyrick, a Senior VP of HR currently based in the UK. 
Chris Meyrick is a Senior International Human Resources Leader, who has been recognised for his ability to deliver change and transformation in rapidly evolving global businesses. 
Chris has developed his career in global businesses and had the opportunity to align local and global HR activities in matrixed, portfolio organizations. Chris originally started his career in Australia with Westpac and Optus before joining American Expresswhich then offered him the opportunity to move overseas.  

Chris first migrated to New York in 2009 with American Express and then to Hong Kong before more recently moving to London last October to join Avis Budget Group as SVP HR for their International business.  Avis Budget Group is in approximately 180 countries and currently employs approximately 30,000 people. 
Chris generously set aside some time to converse with us about his personal experience of HR in offshore locations. 

What are some of the challenges of the business environment you are operating in?

“There are a couple of ways to answer this question. 
Geographically there are differences. For instance, in Europe, the breadth and diversity of the region in terms of customer needs, market dynamics and the rate of change towards mobility trends such as electric vehicles. This pace of change is accelerating across Europe too.
From an industry perspective, technology disruption has had a huge effect on the business. We’re revolutionising car rental by digitalising our entire operation to improve the customer experience and leverage the opportunities that come with connected car technology.  This is true disruption and requires innovative talent strategies to navigate successfully and maintain operational excellence.”

What are you key observations on the HR trends playing out in your markets?

“We are seeing a lot of competition for talent due to growing trends for flexible working across multiple regulatory environments and due to many European countries have low unemployment rates.
Effective workforce planning is required with a need to second guess where and how things are going to go!
In regards to core HR service offerings for the business, we had to create a bespoke country by country solution whilst still creating a scalable infrastructure with payroll, benefits etc., there’s not many organisations that can tackle this at the moment."

What do you feel are some of the differences in the HR landscape in offshore locations compared to Australasia?

“A definite difference is the complexity of the employee and labour relations environments overseas and the work that this creates. 
Due to this, when rolling out a program of change and the uneven conditions in markets, the question becomes - Do we look to start together or end together?
Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned new approaches and thinking to apply around the reality of speed and how to bring people along on the journey – Gone are the days when you’d have an idea as part of the planning process, decide what the program was and off you’d go and implement it and then start looking to the following year."

What have you benefited from as a HR professional in stepping out of Australia from a personal career perspective?

“Personally, I’ve always been curious and I’ve always had an interest in living overseas so when I was working in Australia, I actively sought out challenges that would create bigger opportunities, then overlay that with being connected with overseas colleagues helps you with the first steps on the journey.
The benefits that come to mind now that I have made the move are;
  • Developing my skills in understanding scale, multi-jurisdiction activities, dealing with multi geographical locations and different cultures”.
  • Exposure to legacy issues and frameworks - Australian companies tend to be more modern when comparing them to multinational, multicultural businesses with legacy on top of legacy. 
  • Seeing first-hand the richness in diversity of how the business has arrived at its current position, so figuring out, how and why did we get here? How do we move forward? What issues do we focus on? 
  • Being actively involved in the creation of HR cutting edge solutions that were applied across multiple sets of colleagues, peers and stakeholders. Work extended beyond HR and into the broader business, across different parts of the world and that’s my definition of diversity”.



What advice you would offer others contemplating a move overseas?

  • “Have a sense of curiosity, seek challenges and development.  
  • Australians have been exposed to a multicultural society which leads to an easy going style and that’s really transferrable across many cultures. I think that’s important as culture differences are vast across religion, ethnic backgrounds etc.
  • Be prepared to get outside the comfort zone, be OK with not knowing, be self-aware and accepting of outcomes and challenges.
  • Don’t go with a fixed term in mind. We all know someone who’s gone overseas for a year and ten years later, they are still there!
  • Develop your external networks in your new territory with a sense of urgency, my advice would be to re-create them to the same depth and breadth of the ones you have here in Australia”.



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