About Gareth Owen
Gareth Owen OBE has served as the Humanitarian Director at Save the Children UK for 17 years, overseeing global emergency relief efforts and strategic leadership in the organisation. His role involves fundraising, strategy development, and promoting innovative collaborations. With a background as a first responder and over 20 years in the field, Gareth brings a blend of operational expertise and strategic insight to guide the organisation's humanitarian programs worldwide.
How does your organisation navigate the complexities of operating under multiple jurisdictions with varying localisation requirements and business process?
Leading interconnected teams across regulatory and cultural frontiers requires concerted evolutionary shifts - in mindsets, adaptive policies and integrative technology. We actively champion accessible systems that equally empower leadership everywhere while respecting regional diversity, never demanding conformity. Our solutions must enable seamless accessibility for leaders facing unrelenting worldwide demands. The tech needs to be super efficient and intuitive for busy leaders and managers to get ubiquity of use and impact. Design that is easy to understand and focused on the user helps align our platforms, making sure our systems are used to their fullest potential. This integration demands focusing on mutual goodwill, celebrating the vibrancy of multiculturalism, and embracing the richness of different locales rather than forcing conformity.
Sustaining ethical practices globally requires elevating employee voice, and advancing mutual understanding through cultural localisation. But adherence to core values and ethical integrity remains vital. There is tremendous decentralised potential with distributed leadership inside adaptive frameworks - as strategy permeates all theatres while upholding uniqueness. We are progressing workplace communities that resonate with shared purpose while championing the richness of difference.
Could you share an example where an adaptive HR approach was crucial for a successful outcome?
We continually work on helping organisational development evolve. Recently, some deep introspection occurred around aid groups' cultures given external scrutiny. Many rely on managerial processes merely addressing surface perceptions rather than underlying relationships. Despite proposing braver initiatives targeting fundamental reasoning and trust, initial leadership hesitation impeded progress. However, persisting irritation around superficial results built receptivity to experimenting with vulnerability coaching focused on diversity, equity and inclusion fundamentals. Over the past years, championing these transitional spaces centred on emotional truths has created positive ripples.
Though abstract, this exemplifies fertile territory for adaptive HR to nurture collective potential. I think it's really fertile territory for HR now, this sort of adaptive, transformative language emerging in recent years. The embedded hierarchies and connectivity loss amidst hybrid working models further show why human sustainability requires supportive fluidity. When people can express anxieties openly, understanding emerges. The humanitarian crisis showed the need for adaptive emotional intelligence in anchoring diverse perspectives with empathy. Despite visceral reactions, reasoning together spotlighted how critical compassionate adaptability remains for coherence amidst turbulence. Inviting courageous vulnerability nurtures collective potential.
How would you rate the adaptability and flexibility of your current HR solutions?
We face common nonprofit challenges adopting affordable systems then wrestling with fragmented capabilities. While gradual improvement occurs, truly intelligent HR technology remains rare - solutions forgiving and intuitive enough for varied users often lose focus chasing box-ticking compliance over experiential relevance. Despite performative processes like annual reviews barely scratching engagement, pulse surveys build serious datasets exposing feelings useful if we listen.
Managerial effectiveness still struggles moving from sporadic measurement toward sustained, collective loops understanding emergent priorities through trustful technology. But seeds exist in surveying real-time experiences, signalling potential for responsively nurturing human potential beyond static ratings. This trajectory toward ethical relating and understanding spurs reimagining holistic growth.
How important and how do you ensure your HR platform remains flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of your business?
To ensure our HR platform stays flexible and adaptive, we start by deeply comprehending the value it provides - what do leaders, managers and staff actually use and need? We focus updates on those essential functionalities while eliminating extraneous elements. However, operating globally with multiple competing systems hinders data integration and insights. Despite appreciating good data's importance, inconsistencies persist, obstructing global data hygiene and security efforts. Confidentiality considerations add complexities.
So when evaluating HR solutions, I think first is usability - will people use it comprehensively, correctly and for efficiency? The tech needs to be super efficient and intuitive for busy leaders and managers to get ubiquity of use and impact. Thereafter cost effectiveness and ability to meaningfully roll out without disruption.
How do you anticipate the evolution of HR management?
Thought-provoking concepts continue emerging, like self-managed systems, though mainstream activation is gradual. Still the biggest influence remains Professor William Easterly's critique on technocratic illusions around rigidly planned organisational approaches demanding predefined outcomes from the get go. As our HR and OD strategists recognise, we must transition from this restrictive burden of proof limiting human potential.
Similarly, responding in humanitarian crises meant trusting real-time assessment, not top-down predetermination. Guided by these paradigm shifts, incrementally more trusting, organic human-centred models now gain traction across hierarchical norms that determine experience largely from the top, often detached from daily realities of teams below. So by challenging assumptions and nurturing collective sustainability over control, innovative spaces open for transformative leadership - elevating HR support of people’s full capability with the adaptive mindsets and technologies enabling responsible autonomy.
About Save the Children UK
Save the Children is an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children's rights, provides relief and supports development around the world. Founded in London in 1919, it is now made up of 30 members operating across over 100 countries. Save the Children focuses on bettering children's lives through improved education, health care and economic opportunities, as well as emergency aid and security. With innovation and local partnerships at its core, Save the Children envisions a world in which no child dies from preventable causes.