In our latest Talent Leadership interview, we have caught up with Paul Awcock, Head of Talent Sourcing and Management at Lloyd's of London.

Paul has over 20 years of senior HR leadership experience, bringing together a depth of knowledge across the HR spectrum from Reward to Inclusion and specifically Recruitment and Resourcing, where he specializes in identifying and transforming the talent and hiring landscape at all levels.

At Lloyd’s, he leads the Talent Sourcing function, managing the Recruitment RPO, Emerging Talent RPO and internal sourcing of Senior, Executive and Global hiring, talent moves and succession planning. He is responsible for inclusive recruitment practices and the upskilling of all hiring managers across Lloyd’s to become accredited hirers and people leaders.

Paul is passionate about diversity and inclusion and sits on the Executive Committee for RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) where he regularly shares his own organization’s journey to becoming more inclusive to disabled talent as well as busting some commonly held misconceptions around disability in the workplace. During his time at Lloyd’s, the business has made monumental changes to the way it sources and secures talent through several training initiatives – and is reaping the rewards as a result.

Prior to Lloyd’s, Paul also spent time with Catlin, Lloyd’s Banking Group and Monsoon Accessorize in a range of senior talent and resourcing roles.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing TA functions in the current market? How have TA functions had to adapt?

PA: I think the obvious response for me would be the transition to virtual assessment & selection, especially for senior or key roles. In a traditional face to face environment you have the casual conversation from reception to the interview room, that continues in the room when making the coffee or doing the introductions, so that early rapport building is in danger of getting lost through the camera lens. The challenge for me has been to make sure I focus on that informal and relaxing start to the conversation, rather than be tempted to dive straight into the formal process. The candidate experience should always be at the forefront of the process.

So, we have needed to focus on adapting the interview process to still be as thorough and robust in a virtual context as we would for face to face. At Lloyd’s we have continued to hire very successfully at the senior level throughout the pandemic, hiring some seriously great talent.

To what extent should TA be responsible for the success of candidates they help to place?

PA: This is one of the most important parts of my role, ensuring that in the early conversations with candidates I can describe exactly what the role is, what the culture, behaviours & values of the Corporation are, and giving a really good account of what a candidate should expect once they are successfully hired. I always use the phrase “I’d like you to join us as a friend on day one, not a stranger” Whilst that may sound soft, the intention is solid, it’s within my gift to make sure we honour that commitment. I also ensure I stay connected to senior new joiners in their early days, just to check in and make sure that I have adequately prepared them to join us.

We know that Lloyd’s has taken great steps to become diverse and this is particularly pertinent given they’re nearly 300 years in business. Talk to us about what has been crucial to the success of implementing this framework and getting stakeholders on board.

PA: Crikey, it’s ‘soap box time’ I have no doubt in my mind that a fundemental part of the successful hiring practices at Lloyd’s stem from the very early introduction to inclusive hiring in my first 6 months, gaining buy-in from the Executive Committee on the importance of hiring diversley and obtaining funding investment to create the Inclusive Hiring Programme accreditation that is mandated across the Corporation for all hiring managers (at all levels) to achieve before conducting an interview.

My approach was to invest in an external audit of our processes to be able to confidently confirm how out-of-date the Lloyd’s recruitment & selection processes were and how harmful they were to poor hiring decisions, poor candidate experience and as importantly, the Lloyd’s external Brand as a key Market employer.

What is your proudest achievement as Head of TA at Lloyd’s?

PA: The introduction of the Inclusive Hiring programmes against quite a cynical early view in 2015, the programme is now part of the core learning curriculum and we run 11 programmes a year, not just for Lloyd’s but for the Market. It was and still is a bit of a game changer. And if I am allowed more than one, hiring the first female Chief Information Officer (out of sector) and the first female Chief Data Officer (out of sector), I had to break Lloyd’s obsession from hiring from the Market!

Thinking beyond just day-to-day responsibilities, how can TA leaders best champion diversity?

PA: Think of it against everything we do. Every process we change, every activity we up-date, every job we redesign needs to have a D&I lens so that the continuum of good practice doesn’t fade. I have worked in TA for a little over 30yrs and D&I for a good 20yrs, but I never assume “we’re done” it must become a part of who we are and we need to assume an ambassadorial role in ensuring our recruitment practices remain inclusive at EVERY stage of the process.

How do you think the TA community can continue to collaborate and work together in the future?

PA: Simple, just keep talking, working as a subject matter cohort and sharing good ideas and best practice. Celebrate success, share stories – good and bad. Our respective functions are the windows to our organisations, staying connected will help us all thrive ………..and have great fun!

Thank you Paul Awcock for such an insightful interview!

Come back soon to see more in-depth interviews addressing the key topics shaping the global talent acquisition market - and if you have any suggestions of topics or people for future interviews, please send them to emily.ivey@leathwaite.com

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