Rewarding Futures

Realising People Potential: Global Needs and Local Experiences

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Nations are neglecting or wasting, on average, 38% of their talent.’ This is one of the claims made by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their 2017 Human Capital Report, published recently.

The report is driven by the latest data from the WEF’s Global Human Capital Index which ranks countries on how effectively they’re developing their ‘human capital’ (i.e. the knowledge and skills people possess that enable them to create economic value). It got us thinking about how much of what is being reported globally has in common with our experiences ‘closer to home’.

Given that nations aren’t realising the potential of their people, the WEF argue for ‘a human-centric vision of the future of work, one where people acquire and use their knowledge and creativity as key drivers of a prosperous and inclusive economy.’

It’s not all bad news. The report found that today’s global population is generally better educated than previous generations, irrespective of location, with an increasing number of people holding professional qualifications across a broad spread of interests/skills.

However, the four other core findings left room for improvement;

  • ‘Youth, women and older people still do not get the opportunities they want in most labour markets.’ This is contrary to the improving trend in education and reflected in issues such as the well-publicised gender pay gap. The WEF suggest that many people see a future in digital opportunities rather than traditional forms of work.
  • ‘We need to reform education for the next generation. But that alone is not enough. We also need to up-skill the current workforce.’ In other words, an education system is required that prepares the next generation for economic models and jobs yet unknown whilst investing in the current workforce so that they can likewise adapt and be future-ready. 
  • ‘Business and educational institutions need to deepen their collaboration on education, re-skilling and up-skilling across the globe.’ What the WEF are actually saying is that many businesses needs to rethink their ‘short-term’ view of people as a financial burden to be minimised, and instead see the development of workforces as both an investment and social obligation.
  • ‘Too many employers and governments around the world are focused on a narrow talent pool.’ The WEF see an over-reliance on both highly-skilled small pockets of people and cheap labour to fuel innovation and economic growth respectively, and argue that instead nations should open up the opportunity provided by the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (i.e. one driven by digitisation and artificial intelligence) to broaden the talent base and offer more fulfilling work to more people.

But are these grand global aspirations being realised here in the UK as we see it through our relationship with both major organisations and smaller entrepreneurial businesses?

While it’s fair to say that the focus on development is often the first casualty in businesses under acute financial pressure, Vana Resourcing has recently worked with a number of major organisations to introduce Heads of Talent and Development, and their subsequent teams. In fact, almost a third of our appointments over the last 12 months have been for talent specialists, ranging from emerging Talent Managers to Heads of Organisational Design. We’ve also noted clients taking a much more holistic approach to investing in their talent from entry level (i.e. apprenticeships and graduates). 

Through all of this we are seeing HR integral to making workforces future-ready. At its best HR is an enabler, focused on attracting, developing - and retaining - the best talent, and creating a culture of engagement and shared goals. Additionally, we are seeing more and more of our clients doing away with traditional performance reviews and moving instead to ongoing conversations around goals and performance. All of this supports the fluid, adaptable and agile cultures that HR Leaders are responsible for developing which appeal to a more mobile and empowered workforce.

“Whilst it’s hard to argue with the findings of the WEF Human Capital Report, we believe that HR professionals and functions are already delivering against these,” says Vana co-Director Jo White.

“Yes, different organisations are moving at different speeds, but there is enough from our experience to suggest that the overall trend of companies investing in people and culture is positive and one where HR are in the driving seat.”


You can read the Global Human Capital Report 2017 in more detail here.

I’ve worked with the team at Vana on many occasions over the years, engaging them to hire senior talent in a number of businesses. Both Debbie and Jo offer great insight and expertise, but above all they deliver results. I would happily recommend their services.

Scott Fishburn, HR Director, DFS

“Debbie and Jo are high-integrity recruiters who take time to understand organisational needs; commercial and cultural. VANA have worked in partnership with us a number of times, enabling us to secure some excellent senior HR hires.”

John Burgess, Head of Talent & Leadership Development, AXA Group

“I have worked with Debbie both as a candidate having introduced me to ING Direct and Invensys, and as a client supporting me with key hires in both organisations and more recently at DAS.  Both Debbie and Jo are exceptionally well networked, I trust their judgement completely and would highly recommend Vana.”

Kate Banks, ‎Group Director of HR & Legal Services at DAS UK Group

'Debbie and Jo are first class headhunters of HR talent. They take the time to fully understand the brief and culture of the organisation before suggesting any candidates for opportunities. Thank you Vana for sourcing quality hires for my team.'

Helen Norris, Head of HR - Nationwide Building Society

I have worked with Debbie both in the search for talent and also as a candidate, in both situations Debbie has been faultlessly professional. Debbie builds strong relationships exploring briefs to ensure she has a deep understanding of what the business and candidate need, allowing her to deliver a real match.

Ian Marchant, Retail HRD, Greene King plc

Candidate experience is really important to me in recruitment, because that is someone's first experience of an organisation - your organisation. As I see it, the recruiter is part of YOUR brand and their actions impact on YOUR reputation when they act for you. The candidate remembers the experience of applying for a job and not always the recruiter involved.

My experience as a candidate of Jo's was exceptional. Jo kept me informed at every stage, questions were anticipated and I always knew where the process was. Also, Jo was present as a person and not as a remote handler. This shows me that any candidate that Jo places would be treated in exactly the way I'd want them to be. I recommend her without hesitation.

Geraldine Buckland, Director of People, Bristol Water

Debbie and Jo are great recruiters of HR talent; they have successfully worked on a number of key senior hires for us both in the UK and internationally.

Jonathan Wright, Group HRD, Murphy Group

Debbie has recently supported me in securing my first HRD role. Her observations and feedback were very insightful and assisted me greatly in navigating the recruitment process and learning about the company and environment I'll be stepping into. Totally dependable, unbiased and a good judge of character, I would highly recommend her to act on your behalf with prospective employers. I haven't worked with Debbie yet as the employer but wouldn't hesitate to do this if the need arises.

Anita Calverley, HR Director, Yeo Valley Farms

The thing about Vana Resourcing is that Debbie and Jo actually care – about you as a person, your career and your business. Yes they deliver great candidates and opportunities but they make sure that the fit / opportunity is right, challenging both sides in a positive way when needed. They’ve supported my career for the last 10 years, including introducing me to my current HRD role, and I have no hesitation that they will be my first point of call for future candidates and opportunities.

Suzie Noble, Chief People Officer, Brightside

“I have worked with Debbie and Jo several times, they stand out from the crowd as a sourcer of talent and when managing you as a candidate, I simply haven't worked with anyone better. Commercial, thorough, expert and with a sense of integrity that means you are only ever recommended to organisations that suit you - and as a hirer you only get talent that works for your organisation. As a hiring organisation, working with a partner like Vana is simply irreplaceable.”

Head of OD, Vodafone

Debbie brings accurate and current insight on HR Talent. Her ability to recognise top people in their field and actively nurture relationships over a long period of time sets her apart from her peers. Debbie is refreshingly honest , she keeps confidences and is not afraid to challenge both candidates and hiring Executives to ensure the right outcome for all parties. I would have no hesitation in recommending Debbie or Vana Resourcing for a critical HR hire.

Barbara Duffy, International HR Director leading on Talent, L&D, Resourcing,OD

“Debbie introduced me to OVO Energy, and she not only found me the right role, but an organisation whose ethos matched my values.  I have since worked with Vana to recruit almost my entire senior HR team! From HRBP's to a Reward Lead and most recently a HR Director. Vana really understand the importance of culture fit."

Kim Atherton, Chief People Officer, OVO Energy

I have worked with Vana Resourcing for a number of years representing me in my own search and as a client. Debbie and Jo are professional and efficient but unusually for this sector, genuinely caring about both client and candidate experience in equal measure.

Jonathan Edge, HR Director UK & Ireland at Ideal Standard International BVBA

“Jo is highly professional, knowledgeable and proactive. It’s not often that a recruitment consultant really interviews you in the same way a prospective employer would.”

Simon Amesbury, SuperGroup plc

What a refreshing delight to work with a commercial partner who understood my business, had national and regional awareness, a handle on the market, an effortless connection with candidates and could tolerate my Everest-like expectations.

I will continue to work with Debbie and Jo again on my incessant drive to solve the talent conundrum of the coming years.

Keep up the great work, you are a credit to the industry.


Stephen Robson, HR Director, Global O&Supply Chain at Kingfisher plc

"The team and I have worked with Jo now on a number of occasions for various recruitment assignments. I have always found Jo to be consultative and considered in her approach but above all honest and straight forward! She has a great understanding of her market place and is always at the end of the line to offer insight and market knowledge. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Vana and look forward to our continued relationship."

Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society, Resourcing Partner, Nationwide Building Society

I've known Jo for a number of years and worked with her as a client and candidate. What's great about working with Jo is that you're guaranteed an honest perspective and terrific insight to the market. She nurtures her relationships in a natural and engaging way: put simply - she knows her stuff!

Marie Aitken, Chief People Officer

I initially engaged Debbie to undertake a search for a Head of OD. She is consultative in style, and took time to gain a comprehensive insight into our organisational culture and HR journey, delivering an excellent shortlist of candidates and a super hire. The feedback from our candidates on their engagement with VANA has been equally positive. Jo and Debbie has since supported me with several other senior hires within the People organisation at RLG, and we enjoy an effective working partnership.

People & Corporate Affairs Director, Royal London Group

“I have worked with Debbie as both candidate and client. In both contexts I have found her to be super-efficient, thorough and a pleasure to do business with. She listens really well, responds quickly and is flexible to evolving demands. Debbie is up there in my top 3 recruiters.”

Sue Round, Head of Talent and Organisational Effectiveness, BP

I have worked with Debbie and Jo for many years as a candidate looking for opportunities and a manager looking for talent.  I have always been impressed by how Vana strive to ensure that there is the best fit in terms of candidate values and company culture.

Sarah King, Head of HR, Triodos Bank