Leaders with Ambition - Kevin Hogarth

Leaders with Ambition - Kevin Hogarth

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Kevin Hogarth - Business Adviser, Mentor and NED.

A thought leader in the human resources space, Kevin Hogarth reflects on today’s evolving workplace cultural landscape on this episode of Leaders With Ambition.

His most recent role, as a Partner at Strengths Unleashed, is the culmination of a myriad of high-profile roles at major global professional and financial services firms such as Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose and Freshfields.

In this episode, you'll learn about the defining values that have driven Kevin’s enormously successful career trajectory (a commitment to fairness is at the top of the list). Kevin’s approach to HR has long focused on helping executives and teams reach their potential through enlightened management – with undeniably positive results.

But it’s Kevin’s work at the forefront of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – where he has been challenging and expanding the conversation for more than a decade – that will be his legacy.

He has made inroads by documenting both qualitative and quantitative data points that support not only the business case for promoting EDI but also the ethical imperative that is changing the way organisations operate.

This in-depth discussion takes a candid look at everything from white male privilege to the mental health and business challenges that arose overnight as a result of Covid19.

You won’t want to miss Kevin’s words of wisdom or his stories about the very setbacks and challenges that have propelled him into the position he enjoys today – as a trailblazer, mentor and authoritative voice advancing best practices for workplace cultures in these transformational times.

Watch the episode with Kevin Hogarth here

Listen to the audio episode below

Starting Out

Kevin discusses how his core values are rooted in understanding from an early age that the world was rife with unfairness, spurring his commitment to work towards equity.

He talks about how his experience as a competitive badminton player has lent itself to Kevin’s understanding of how to coach and achieve excellence as a Manager. The development of his career was determined by the mentors in the early stages of his career that shaped Kevin’s trajectory and opened up opportunities well suited to his ambitious nature.

Kevin enjoys rallying up teams and inspiring individuals to develop their potential, he is a true leader. Kevin embraces conversations with employees agitating for change and career progression, which he loves to promote.

Kevin tempered his desire to pursue as many professional experiences as possible for the purpose of growth with his desire to be intentional in his choices.

Moving sectors

Kevin talks about the growth he experienced while working in financial services and the battle scars acquired during his steep HR learning curve.

What attracted Kevin to professional services and the challenges he encountered during the transition – as well as timely mentoring that got him on track!

Kevin is receptive to the perspective others have to offer and the intent ideally behind both giving and receiving advice.

Comprehensive training early in Kevin’s career (at Boots plc) set him up with skills that have been foundational ever since. The exposure EY provided to global workplace cultures and styles of doing business, ultimately drew Kevin to work with Capital One during a very dynamic, entrepreneurial period of growth.

Kevin learnt about Business Transformations and what it looks like to manage through disruption, contraction, adaptations – and reshaping teams accordingly. Kevin then pivoted to Freshfields and then Norton Rose, helping both firms progress their people management practices while building his skill sets.

Kevin explains why Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are about marshalling talent and organisational growth that ultimately benefits the bottom line.

Taking the role at KPMG and incorporating ED&I in to the corporate world

Kevin delves into taking on the role of Chief People Officer at KPMG UK in the midst of the pandemic and the agility required to lead through unprecedented times.

How he made a difference and what inspired him to launch an independent practice coaching executives in how to build better, fairer, more resilient workplace cultures.

Kevin goes through how he leverages quantitative and qualitative data to underscore the benefits of integrating Equity, Diversity & Inclusion into the corporate roadmap. He discusses why the argument for EDI isn’t either/or. Doing the right thing is the right thing to do – and also the most financially sound way of doing business.

Being the Change

Standing side-by-side, as a white man, in solidarity with those who have experienced marginalisation, recognising privilege and advocating for change is the essence of Kevin’s work and the global goals within ED&I spaces.

Kevin always innately understood the power of networking (formal and informal) in fostering growth and sustaining long-term career goals.

Kevin’s Career Challenges

  • Coming up to speed and contributing during times of professional transition.

  • Gaining traction in the promotion of EDI and mending dysfunctional workplaces.

  • Covid19 - It required high-stakes adaptations in an atmosphere of total unknowns.

Kevin’s Career Highlights

  • Advancing HR goals inside Capital One’s dynamic culture of growth.

  • All the talented, amazing people with whom he has worked across the board.

  • His contributions to changing the conversation over the past 10-15 years and bringing EDI into mainstream business culture and expectations.

Words of Wisdom

  • 'Don’t be afraid to try on many hats over the course of your career.'

  • 'If you’re doing something you don’t enjoy, change it!'

  • 'Look for something that you enjoy and can feel passionate about.'

  • 'For HR in particular: Explore line management roles and other varied experiences to enhance understanding, common language and insights.'

  • 'Spend time reflecting on your experiences and find people who will help you put them in context and evolve beyond!'

Key Quotes

  • “When I look back at my career, I do think it has been about creating fairer workplaces where people can thrive and make the most of their abilities, regardless of who they are and their background.”

  • “I was always interested in the concept of how I could make a difference to the world and make the world a better place.”

  • “You received very direct mentorship and coaching from a very senior person and have paid it forward with your teams as well.” (Nicky)

  • “Not everyone is very skilled at giving feedback so some of it lands a bit more harshly than other feedback, but if you think about the intent behind it, it’s people trying to help.”

  • “I’ve had role models who helped guide me and offered development opportunities … and I’ve incorporated that in the way that I manage and lead my teams as well.”

  • “You see people go into management roles because they’re good at their jobs, but being a good manager or leader requires a different kind of skill set.” (Nicky)

  • “We saw (during the pandemic) HR teams really step up and help organisations through that crisis incredibly well. Professionally it was very challenging. There wasn’t a playbook.”

  • “I’m incredibly proud of how the whole HR profession responded to the challenges that Covid presented to organisations not just across the UK, but across the world.”

  • “The system that we operate in has been designed predominantly by white men and favours white men. And it’s largely up to white men to change that system.”

  • “It’s easy to have a LinkedIn network with thousands of people on it, but do you actually have a relationship with those people? That’s different.” (Nicky)

  • “Often, it’s the periods that are the hardest when you’re learning the most about yourself.”

  • “There’s still an enormous amount to do, but when you think back 10 or 15 years, the world is a different place. There’s a very different dialogue and very different expectations for organisations and leadership teams.”

About Kevin

Kevin’s career began at Boots plc in recruitment and then in HR roles in Abbey National, EY and Capital One and as Global Human Resources Director at one of the world’s pre-eminent international law firms, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

As Global Director of People and Culture at Norton Rose Fulbright and then Chief People Officer at KPMG LLP, Kevin’s broad experience helped provide leadership through the pandemic, overseeing the well-being response and transition to hybrid working.

Kevin is now a Business Adviser, Mentor and NED, this coming after a myriad of high-profile executive roles at major global professional and financial services firms such as Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose and Freshfields.

He has recently joined the Board of The Law Society and will shortly be appointed to the Board of Dimensions (a social care organisation). In addition he was recently appointed on a year long contract as an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser to Welcome Trust.

About Nicky

Nicky has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Regional Managing Director of Ambition UK, Europe & US she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.

Want to learn more about the team at Ambition? Click here to find out what we’re up to! If you enjoyed this discussion, please visit this link to find previous episodes of Leaders with Ambition.

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