Partnering With The Partners

By Warwick Bowd

Published Date: 2019/11


Partnering with the Partners

Recent research suggests that a new and different way of business partnering from HR leaders is now required to keep pace with the changing demands faced by partners in professional services firms. As the broader business community undergoes massive transformation in the wake of challenges like digital disruption and increasing business risk, partners in professional services firms are grappling with the issue of how best to evolve their practices and continue adding value for their clients. Human Resources leaders play a key role in this journey, as designated ‘business partners to the partners.’ 

On Tuesday 29th October, Derwent’s National Professional Services Lead Partner Warwick Bowd facilitated a conversation with Alissa Anderson, Human Resources Director, Business Services (Global) from Herbert Smith Freehills and the CEO of leadership and transformation consultancy Lighthouse Group, Peter Nankervis.

The discussion covered topics including the skills and mindset required to be an effective HR business Partner to Partners in professional services firms. Some of the takeaways included:

  • Recent Lighthouse Group research shows the top things Partners are looking for from their HR business partners are ownership and accountability - the ability to think more like a business owner.
  • The importance of adopting a strategic and commercial mindset and being good at stakeholder management.
  • Seeing each Partner as a human individual and connecting with them on an individual level versus seeing them as a broad collective.
  • Taking a walk in the Partners shoes and really understanding and emphasising with their world.
  • Developing a mindset of resilience, courage, humility, agility and lifelong learning.  
  • The concept of ‘unlearning’ with Barry O’Reilly’s book quoted ‘Unlearn’.
  • The power of a mentoring relationship, Alissa shared she’s had the same mentor since she was 20.
  • The sliding door moments we have each day where we can open the door to build trust and turn towards that person or close it.
  • Driving connections across any silos and taking personal accountability for building relationships.