#MyWTW: From contractor to Global Head of Talent Acquisition: Elise Hunt’s thriving & fulfilling career journey
Can you tell us about your career journey at Willis Towers Watson?
I first joined Willis Towers Watson in 2010 as a contractor working three days per week, a year after having my first child. The company had just completed a merger and I was responsible for integrating Human Resource (HR) policies across Europe. When my contract was almost up, a maternity cover opportunity arose within the HR Business Partner team and I was fortunate to remain with the company longer. Not long after, I then fell pregnant unexpectedly with my second child. During my maternity leave I kept in close contact with Willis Towers Watson, before returning four days per week as a contractor on an HR Operations project. My career took off from there as I then became a permanent colleague and established the Willis Towers Watson Global Recruitment Operations team. This opportunity provided me with a building block to think more strategically about recruitment, build global frameworks and governance, and to look for continuous improvement opportunities. I worked on some incredible global projects, including another merger and some large system implementations. Now, as Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Willis Towers Watson, I am very inspired to further shape the future talent goals within the company.
How do you meet the diverse hiring needs of the company?
Willis Towers Watson decided to re-establish its Talent Acquisition function as a global Center of Expertise, so I am working to build the company’s recruitment function to meet the diverse hiring needs of the organization. Alongside this, Willis Towers Watson is expanding its entry level programs, investing in more recruitment tools and technology, and redefining its operating model which includes better articulation of the hiring manager and recruiter responsibilities throughout the hiring process. Willis Towers Watson never stops striving to be a more inclusive employer. We acknowledge that we operate in some industries that are not as diverse as we would like, but that does not stop our ambition to diversify our workforce. In many cases, if diverse talent is not available at the senior leadership level, then we look at how we can bring diverse talent in at the entry level to train and develop our future leaders. In addition, we have a whole host of inclusion networks around the world and many incredible initiatives that those groups have pioneered. One of our most successful initiatives is a return-to-work program.
How important is employee engagement?
Willis Towers Watson is incredibly supportive, caring, and respectful of its colleagues’ needs. Of course, pay and benefits are important, but wellbeing and care programs can be a major differentiator between employers, and I believe this certainly positions Willis Towers Watson as a magnet for talent. An organization can use all the tools in the book to position their brand with buzzwords and on-trend terminology, but to make a real difference the most successful brands are those that are described by the employees. I think authentic stories about what it is really like to work for an organization make the most impact and resonate with prospective hires. At Willis Towers Watson, we have an incredibly flexible, supportive, and agile approach to work. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing a self-shot video by a colleague showcasing their working day and being real about how they balance their deliverables with their home life.
What is Willis Towers Watson’s stance on work flexibility?
Willis Towers Watson has been a long-term advocate for flexible, agile working and many of its employees are used to flexing their working patterns pre-Covid. Willis Towers Watson’s flexible working culture has continued post the pandemic with various options to support working from home, hot desking in an office environment, or blend an alternative form of working.
In what ways has Willis Towers Watson demonstrated its support for its employees?
What has really humbled me is the vaccination programs that Willis Towers Watson has supported and rolled out across countries that have not had access to sufficient medical care. In addition, there are dependent care programs, employee helplines and a wide variety of wellbeing resources and support on place for our employees. I believe this exemplifies the organization as more than solely an employer, but truly demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting and treating the individual needs of its employees. Attraction and hiring are two of our key levers for change and this is where my team can really influence others and make a difference. For example, Willis Towers Watson provides more than just the typical maternity or parental policies. There is real support for parents, care givers, and women who return-to-work, take for example our mentor schemes and impressive return-to-work help and resources. Alongside that support, there is a strong desire from the company to ensure that women are supported in their career aspirations, regardless of their career breaks.
I speak from personal experience; It would be very challenging to undertake the global scope of my role if I wasn’t able to flex my work around my family life and further responsibilities. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with colleagues who respect my situation, many of whom have not had young families to juggle. At the same time, I can actively support my team members. For example, one of my team is part of a ‘SHE Leads’ program that provides timely career coaching to aspiring female leaders.
What can you say is Willis Towers Watson’s stance on pay equity?
As part of its practices at Willis Towers Watson, there is a consistent focus on pay equity and transparency. Even when the UK Government suspended mandatory employer reporting on the 2019 gender pay gap due to the pandemic, Willis Towers Watson actively chose to submit their UK gender pay gap report. Employer policies, procedures, resources, and support are extensive at this highly progressive company.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and taking our dog, a very energetic Hungarian Vizsla, for long walks on the countryside. I also enjoy cooking for friends and family, especially a Sunday roast. During the pandemic, I discovered the Peloton exercise bike and I’m now truly hooked, so I try to squeeze in a ride between my meetings. Additionally, when I get an opportunity on the weekend, I enjoy going to Tottenham Hotspur matches with my husband and children.