CIPD09: Sharon Doherty on Beyond Business Partnering


DSCN1874  Last time I saw Sharon Doherty from Laing O’Rouke present, I didn’t manage to post on her presentation.  So in this session, I’m correcting the omission.

Sharon has done the same as Kevin White and conducted a mini survey for us talking for a few other HR Directors.  My summary of the key points includes:

  • Individual becomes individual, team and organisational effectiveness – Lynda Gratton, LBS
  • Need for adaptability – Philip Stiles, Cambridge
  • Standard becomes bespoke (eg meeting needs of diverse global workforce with four generations of employees in the workforce) – Stephen Dando, Thomson Reuters
  • Investing in HR’s own capability – Stephen Dando, Thomson Reuters
  • Developing financial capability and business understanding – Anne Minto, Centrica
  • Need to deliver a unique contribution without flamboyant language – Claire Thomas, GSK
  • Understand interdependency and think about end-to-end process and working together – Hugh Mitchell, Shell
  • Standardise the relationships – have all you HR BPs doing the same thing – Ronald Schellekens, Vodafone.


Sharon’s summary of this is that HR departments aren’t adding strategic value (and that this is good news for consultants).

Her suggestion is that companies need to work in 5 zones:

  1. Core HR – individual people work
  2. Human capital including team work (I think this is social capital?)
  3. Organisational effectiveness – company-wide work
  4. External work
  5. Executive work.


Sharon also talked about the really interesting work she’s been doing in different companies including Lang O’Rourke.  Most interesting for me, given my posts on leadership and communityship today, is the team aspect of HR work (in her Zone 2) at BAA Terminal 5 where the company took responsibility for employee engagement of other companies (60% of these said they liked working for T5)!


Sharon asked ‘Why can’t other companies do all this?’.

The answer is that of course they can.  I liked Sharon’s presentation but I don’t agree with her view of consultants – we’re not in competition.  For some things, it will make sense to use consultants, for others it won’t.  Wise HR teams will understand which.

So some organisations will use consultants to help them operate in all 5 zones.  I don’t see any problems in this.  And of course, when organisations choose to work with me, I do what I can to help them build their skills through this process.

Or if companies want to do everything themselves, they can use consultants to help them build these skills (the Human Capital Strategist certificate course and other workshops I deliver do this).





  • Consulting – Research – Speaking  – Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


  • Link to original post

    I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).


    Leave a Reply