Governing Body Spotlight
Co-Chair of the UK & Ireland CHRO Community
Chief People Officer
Angela Williams is the Chief People Officer at Corsearch. Angela specialises in HR transformation, talent management and performance management. Angela holds a master’s in Education from the University of Reading (1990 – 1991).
Learn more about leaders in the UK & Ireland CHRO community here.
Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.
I started my commercial career at a graduate programme with Esso Petroleum/Exxon Mobil, managing the delivery of their global pension scheme. I then started the graduate and intern programme, where I learnt the skills of a HR business partner. This laid the foundation for me to join Blackwell’s, where I ran the HR team in both the UK and the US, working as part of the business turnaround team based in New York. After four happy years, I became European HR Director (HRD) for the Walt Disney Company, delivering the end-to-end people service for the European-based businesses. I also served as the HR Business Partner for the TV and film production businesses.
One of the most significant changes to my career came when I was asked by Blackwell’s former CEO to become the COO and VP for HR at QXL Ricardo. This was an internet startup listed across three stock markets. Over the following six months, we acquired nine additional businesses, integrating them into one singular organisation across sixteen countries, delivering a profitable business.
With this amazing business and operational experience – in the crazy start up times of the Internet – I was appointed to Land Securities PLC as Group HRD. I loved every minute of the five and a half years I worked there. Learning how to run the Remuneration and Nominations Committee for a FTSE 30 business laid the foundation for every role I have undertaken since. Furthermore, my experience there gave me the opportunity to take on a number of non-executive roles. These primarily included serving as Chair of multiple committees in various organisations. Since operating in these roles, I have led significant strategic, organisational, people, culture, and digital transformations, working all over the world across various sectors. Some notable examples here include British Gas, Sodexo and Which?
More recently, I was Chief People Officer at British Airways, where we increased customer satisfaction through an improved customer and employee experience and engagement programme, delivering significant profits for shareholders and investors. I also led the Data, Analytics, Projects, Programmes and Digital teams, bringing huge programmes, such as the A350, into service. Essentially, we created an agile approach to programme delivery.
In my last role, I was the Interim Group Chief People Officer with the Post Office. Here, my aim was to oversee cultural and technological transformation, ensuring the Post Office can deliver as a retail franchise partner with a social purpose, for many years to come.
Since May 2022, I have been the Chief People Officer at Corsearch. To date, I have had a varied and fascinating HR and business career, in addition to operational, business and technology-digital experience. I am so lucky to be a non-Executive Director at AND Digital – a dynamic, growing, and inspirational digital consultancy, delivering every day for major clients. Most recently, I was appointed as Chair of Northcoders PLC – an AIM listed PLC that aims to provide trained digital talent to fill the digital skills gap.
What is one of your guiding leadership principles?
Be authentic. Be aware of the shadow you cast, and treat others as you would like to be treated – we are all humans trying to do a good job.
With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CHRO going in the next 1-2 years?
Technology will be at the heart of everything we do in the coming years. Therefore, we must be tech-savvy and maximise the use of the tools and opportunities we have. Moreover, we must ensure that we capture the potential of technology to grow the business and enable our people to be even better versions of themselves. Ultimately, this will drive a culture of openness and innovation – only those who are open to this change will survive and thrive.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CHRO?
Be a part of the business every day. You are the custodian of the purpose, values, and culture of the organisation. Alongside the CEO, you set the tone. Be the role model that you wanted when you were starting out in your career as a leader. Above all, enjoy what you do and make it enjoyable for those you work with.
When I first started out as CHRO, I received some advice from another CHRO, who I had worked for previously. They said, “When you are on your deathbed recollecting your life and achievements, it won’t be the meetings you attended that you will remember – it will be the experiences you had and the people you made a difference to. You create your own legacy every day, so make sure it’s a positive one for everyone you spend your life with, at home and at work.” I have tried to live by this advice every day since.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
I have spent time on Antarctica and in the Arctic.
I started life as a professional musician, and I love to run (I ran the London Marathon many years ago).
Being with my family over dinner or watching live sport – especially Wales rugby – are some of my favourite places to be.
What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?
I have been part of the Evanta CHRO community since its beginning. The people I have met, and the quality of discussions and learnings has been excellent. It’s a strategic community full of great people, all with a common focus and ambition. It’s very rewarding to be a part of it.
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