An interview with Lisa Hand, senior HR Manager, Sigma Systems

Lisa Hand is one of 3 senior HR Managers at Sigma Systems the global leader in catalog-driven software. The company has headquarters in Toronto, Canada, London, UK, USA, India, Europe and Asia Pacific.  One of the UK operations is based at Springboard, Cwmbran from where Lisa is responsible for HR operations across Europe and Asia Pacific and where 60 of the 95 UK staff work.  Lisa reports into a VP, HR. and has been with the company for five years.

Sigma has been recognised among the 30 Best Companies to Work for in Wales. It’s recently received the prestigious one star accreditation for 2019 from UK Best Companies. Lisa was a finalist in the 2019 Wales HR Awards (Best HR Professional Digital/IT category).

Your own journey in HR

We only touched on HR within my undergraduate degree but after graduating I secured my first HR job at the Welsh Ambulance Service which lasted a year. A good mentor advised me to undertake a Master’s Degree in HR and pursue the full CIPD track.

I’ve had experience across public, private and not for profit sectors which included the NHS, hospitality sector and Housing Associations.

What does being a finalist in the Wales HR Awards mean to you?

Firstly, I have a fantastic, supportive team behind me which has enabled me to be successful. I was delighted to be shortlisted. These awards demonstrate growing respect for HR (traditionally regarded as a less visible support service) and the impact HR professionals can have on the success of a business. I love the tech industry. It means even more to be shortlisted in this sector.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Variety and responsibility along with opportunities to make an impact within an innovative business is truly rewarding. Sigma also ensures staff engagement is high on our agenda.

In the last eighteen months the geographical remit of my role has doubled and it’s much wider than a traditional HR function. I operate as a true HR Business partner and look after Europe and Asia Pacific. Our commercial expansion plans into new markets enabled me to establish new HR systems and look after issues such as immigration which is vital to our success.

Sigma places high importance on recruiting the right person with the qualities and attitudes we value. I’m involved at the very start of their Sigma journey with initial screening processes and first interviews. I really enjoy seeing the successes our employees go on to achieve.

What are the challenges?

Recruitment and attracting the right person for the job. The tech sector is such   a competitive industry. Retaining staff and maintaining excellent engagement are also important to get right.

What’s at the heart of The Sigma Way concept?

Our unique culture places genuine trust, flexibility and great values at its’ heart. Our goal has always been to create a fantastic environment where people want to work and stay for the long term; it’s also about evolving with the changing needs of our people and the business to continue our success story.

Our global recognition programme features performance embedded awards linked to our company values and salutes the success of both individuals and teams. Our Career Adventure Programme enables employees to think creatively about how they can develop, travel and maximise their career opportunities.

Our social events also help create a stronger team and improve collaboration and innovation

What are the HR ‘hot topics’ for 2019?

The potential impact of Brexit and changing immigration rules. Sigma depends on employing staff from Europe and further afield and our employees also travel regularly across the continent and the world. 

Attracting the best people, getting the best out of them and making sure they feel they want to stay. Employee experience and engagement is becoming more important.

Health and wellbeing of employees and ensuring a true ‘flexible working’ culture can operate.

In Wales the well-publicised tech skills shortages present a real issue, so businesses like us are working with universities, colleges and other partners to help ensure a dynamic and exciting industry for the future.

 A final word …….

“HR is all about common sense, doing what’s reasonable and fair and what works for people in practice.”