Case Studies Archives - Hensen Associates

Transforming The HR Team Of A Large Media Organisation Amidst A Public Scandal


What does it take to change HR amidst the most unstable organisational conditions imaginable?

Hensen Associates are currently working with Annie, an eminent Interim Director of HR Operations who fundamentally transformed the HR operations of a large media organisation whilst helping to steer it through one of the most publicly scrutinised crises in UK media history.

Not only did she successfully safeguard the business through this period of unprecedented pressure, she also established a remarkable high-performance culture in her HR team, delivered cost savings and cut through entrenched change resistance.


Prior to Annie’s engagement, the HR operations team was highly undervalued by the business and operated in separate silos aligned to the highly-autonomous business units. There was no focus on robust compliance – which had left the organisation exposed – and the HR function was predominantly concentrating on various piecemeal HR interventions aligned to the various business units.

Furthermore, the Executive board had mandated that the HR function were required to deliver cost savings. Amidst all this, the organisation was then suddenly thrust into the public limelight in one of the most high-profile scandals in UK media history.

Why Annie?

Annie was chosen for the assignment because of her proven leadership ability. She was able to set and implement crystal-clear objectives, mobilise teams and individuals in a compassionate way, whilst forging trusting relationships with leadership teams through delivery and engagement.

She also carried with her a successful reputation for delivering cultural change and employee engagement initiatives along with a range of HR operations improvement projects.


Annie initially shaped a long-term improvement plan (LTIP) with an objective of making the organisation fully compliant within the next five years and establishing a new HR Shared Services function. In tandem with gaining approval of the LTIP from the Group HR Director, Annie identified the key areas of business risk from a HR perspective in the context of the crisis.

She instantly repurposed the HR Service Delivery and Compliance team and created a HR Business Change function that was tasked with implementing the material changes under her leadership. This gave Annie the ability to simultaneously direct HR’s engagement with the business to help manage crisis-related activities that resulted from the scandal, ensuring that short-term risks and long-term objectives were under control.

Along with Annie’s exceptional leadership capability, this structural arrangement in HR created a high, sustained work rate which allowed the organisation to effectively resolve people-related elements during the crisis – and address aggressively shifting business demands.

Over the course of this 18-month crisis period, Annie managed to address the high-risk compliance and policy issues which had plagued the business, all whilst supporting the Group HR Director and senior stakeholders in multiple crisis related interventions – many of which were under extreme time pressure.


Annie’s leadership paved the future for this organisation by aiding them through a time of uncertainty. She ultimately succeeded in planning, implementing and leading a fully compliant, group-wide, high-performance HR Shared Services function underpinned with a standardised set of employer T&Cs, policies and processes across the group. All whilst overcoming entrenched cultural change resistance. She also delivered £400k in savings, in accordance with the LTIP.

Annie managed to successfully deliver drastic change to the HR function whilst supporting senior business leaders and the Group HR Director. She led the organisation through a unique corporate crisis which meant that detrimental financial and reputational repercussions were avoided.


• Drastically reduced the organisation’s risk profile by establishing standard employee T&Cs, policies and processes;

• Implementing the new group-wide HR service, ultimately achieving a cost saving of £400k;

• Providing accurate and timely reporting to governing bodies and law enforcement authorities during the crisis


If Annie could contribute to your organisation or if you would like to discuss how Hensen Associates can support your HR Change roadmap then contact us on +44 (0) 1189 901137



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Case Study: Hensen Associates identifies Interim HR Service Lead for World’s Largest Chemical Producer in just 23 days

The Challenge
In January 2017, one of the word’s largest chemical producers had re-launched a global HR transformation programme which aimed to actualise unrealised benefits from an ongoing HR change effort over the past three years. The key outcomes of the programme were as follows:

•   The establishment of a more refined HR services operating model by creating a new regional HR service centre
•   Implementing Workday to replace the existing SAP HR technology platform
•   Launching a new HR self-service portal.

With over 20,000 employees in over 80 countries, this was a highly complex initiative, with multiple technology and consulting third parties supporting the central European and UK project team.

In order to complete it, the incumbent HR Services Workstream Lead (the stakeholder) had engaged a consultant to support her in the re-shaping of the HR service delivery model up until the end of September of 2017. However, although many of the conceptual and strategic elements had been established by this consultant, he was unable to shape the practical components relating to the HR services’ process, technology and operational components as part of the change.

With a firm go-live deadline in June 2018 for the new HR operating model, the Workstream Lead urgently required an external resource to define these practical elements, and more importantly; project manage them to completion in an autonomous, hands-on capacity.

Hensen Associates were therefore tasked with identifying a suitable interim resource with not only an operational and transformational track-record in global HR shared services functions, but also someone who accustomed to the complexity and pace of the programme as it moves toward its big-bang go-live.

The Solution
Meeting with the Workstream Lead allowed Hensen Associates to examine the culture of the organisation, and crystallise the necessary workstream outcomes in detail to ensure the right match from our Interim or Associate network who could make a valuable contribution.

There were two key attributes that came to light in our discussions:

  1. Organisational ways of working
  2. The complex eco-system of the programme itself.

In essence, we uncovered that if this resource was to be truly autonomous – which was critical to protect the stakeholder’s overall outcomes – the Interim needed to be effective in navigating the compliance-led mindset of the business and influence other project stakeholders in the right manner in order to meet their deliverables. Operational expertise in HR services was also critical, as was the project management track-record of implementing case management tools such as ServiceNow and embedding new processes. They were also needed to commence the assignment on site, within just three weeks.

Our Process
The requirement was challenging, not only in the often rare global HR service transformation space, but also the personal and cultural attributes which could determine the success of the whole workstream. Despite our deep network of Interim Associates acquired over ten years, the availability of the most trusted practitioners in our network simply did not match with the stakeholder’s requirements. Even recommendations at 2nd, 3rd and 4th degrees of separation proved fruitless from either an experience, availability or quality of previous delivery standpoint.

Instead, using our knowledge of which clients in the UK were conducting similar HR transformation programmes, we isolated four organisations whom we knew would have utilised a very similar type of resource in their respective programmes. We networked and leveraged relationships from each of these four organisation and created a shortlist of two highly suitable and available prospects. After interview, the stakeholder was introduced to one, along with references from previous stakeholders to verify their delivery.

The Outcome
A total of 23 Interim prospects were pre-interviewed for the requirement, resulting in nine detailed interviews, two finally shortlisted, and one finally introduced to the stakeholder.

This introduction was a two stage process (one telephone, one face to face) between the stakeholder and the candidate. The stakeholder felt that the candidate’s hands-on experience and ability to manoeuvre a complex programme structure (as evidenced at her role at one of the world’s biggest energy companies) would be ideally suited.

In turn, the candidate was delighted as this role would bring them back into an HR function delivering transformation, as opposed to being embedded in a programme team attempting to delivery change ‘on behalf’ of the HR function.

Hensen Associates Consultant Testimonial
“These type of narrow ‘technical’ requirements with unique cultural dynamics are difficult, but often the most satisfying due to the nature of their difficulty. Getting detailed understanding of both aspects up front turned out to be as crucially important as was our client network knowledge base – which made our search effective, targeted and painless for our stakeholder at the point of delivery.”

Case Study: Interim Workday Programme Manager Safeguards £1.1million Investment

If your organisation is implementing Workday but isn’t sure if the proper preparations are in place, you may find this case study of particular interest.

Hensen Associates are currently working with an Interim Workday Programme Manager who safeguarded £1.1 million in his current assignment whilst avoiding unforeseen costs of over £120k.

This case study contains the fine detail of how this impressive result was achieved.