Top 50 HR & Recruiting bad asses in APAC featuring – Mark Souter

Oh hai!

Hopefully you’re back again and so I don’t have to explain the history of this post, though if you’re a first time reader, please read the back story here while we all wait.

So, I am actually starting to feel this crazy old idea of bringing this APAC community of ours closer together by continuously posting is working. Yesterday I attended a catch up with internal recruiters in Wellington, NZ from some of the who’s who brands in tech and I was really impressed with how everyone is helping each other to get better in our roles. It was amazing to see, as traditionally most recruiters here keep to themselves and I have had to go mostly online to share and learn. (more me learning tbh)

Anyway – yay Wellington.

What’s that, you are not from NZ and don’t know of Wellington!!!!

Well check out the below video to see about little old Wellington. Some (not me cause it’s stupid) are calling it SiliconWelly because of how amazing the start-up tech scene is here. So while I am not so keen on gimmicky names as Welly should find it’s name, I will say it’s pretty rad here. As my blog is attracting loads of readers per day outside of Aus/NZ I thought I would throw my adopted town a plug.

Hope you enjoyed the video, I found it on YouTube a while back when a candidate asked me why he should move to Wellington. I sent him that vid, I’m not sure why he never did come here thinking about it now.

The actual video was made as you probably noted to attract Aussies over The Tasman Sea.

Speaking of Aussies though (wow what a segway) I am really pleased to be able to profile #37 on this list with you.

I was quite interested to hear these answers, and I was not disappointed….

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Mark Souter

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I first heard about Mark, when Will Staney was raving about how good he was when Will was in NZ for www.it18.co.nz last year. (Also, get your tix for this years it18 as it’s approaching fast in Welly and Auckland)

Will told me I should definitely follow Mark and have a beer with him. Well I have not managed to have a beer with him (yet) though I have been following him and have some mad respect for his work.

Mark, what do you do in the HR/Recruiting scene?

It seems that many, at some stage, have shared the question of how to clearly articulate & credibly demonstrate the true business impact of investing in people & culture strategy. As a HR Director, I’ve often heard executives & business leaders proclaim sentiment along the lines of how “people are (their) most important asset.” That broad perspective is rarely debated. However using numbers, for example, to link how a compelling place to work, relates to a compelling place for customers to spend &, ultimately, a compelling place for others to invest in the business, is not altogether common.

I work with HR & business leaders to explore their organisation’s strategy, uncover what that means for people (or ‘HR’) priorities & build business cases with benchmark data on how unified HR technology is the key link in the HR/Recruiting & business relationship. I also enjoy sharing the stories of other people’s successes in HR & recruitment & learning from perspectives that are different to mine. I enjoyed working as a HR Director, as well as now being “in & of the business” I supported from a HR perspective, in an external customer facing role with SAP-SuccessFactors.

Why/How did you get into the industry?

The ‘why’ was from quite a simple revelation when I was at high school. The connection between, and the importance of, people & work grabbed my attention, as work is where many find a sense of identity & spend a vast amount of their lives. Unsurprisingly with this interest, I didn’t have many high school dates either! I was fascinated to learn about entrepreneurs and people being bold & starting new businesses, as well as the early trade union movements and their endeavours. I thought this was so interesting that I believed that the girls in my class, just had to notice how cool I was by understanding a little about the division of labour, free markets and productivity. I was wrong. The ‘how’ was from a customer when I laboured as a landscaper, who happened to be a CFO. He learned I had recently completed my degree in Industrial Relations/ HR & he arranged an interview for me with the HR Vice President. I was hired for a 3 month contract, which turned into 2 years of HR & recruiting work.

What is something we don’t know about you?

I trained as a baker & paid my way through University, working the night shift & studying during the day.

Which people inspire you globally?

Brad Eastman, “Beastman”, a friend & artist based out of Sydney, Australia. His art is featured in the background in the earlier photo. Kirsty Harkness, who is a New Zealand entrepreneur who started Tiger Tiger photography & now also creates award-winning wines. Will Staney, a friend & former team mate of mine who I hope to work with again, is an excellent recruiting technology lead. David Bagheri, who has worked in microfinance with Australian primary industries & is now based in London. Jeff Diana, the best Chief People Officer I’ve known & worked for, who hired me for the opportunity at SuccessFactors to lead the HR practice in Asia Pacific through a period of tremendous growth.

What about companies then, which inspire you globally?

The types of companies & organisations that inspire many people, are usually ones that don’t appear to be driven solely by traditional Wall St values. They have a uniqueness about them. I read a quote recently by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” For me, the companies that inspire me are ones that perhaps hold that type of vision that de Saint-Exupéry describes, be it small local businesses like Search & Be Found, The 4217  & Australian businesses that are creative and reaching international audiences like Redbubble.

What advice would you give someone looking to enter this industry?

Don’t despise the days of small beginnings. When you do the work that others are less enthusiastic to do, you’ll be promoted to where everyone else wants to be. The leaders in this industry have prepared for years & they are willing to generously share their knowledge. You have access via social media to expertise that just one decade ago was unheard of. For those who are already leaders in this industry, what leaders you are genuinely following & learning from? If your (highly unlikely) answer is no one, welcome to the highest place of leadership you’ll achieve.

What is your favourite drink?

Beer, scotch, water & coffee. In that order.

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Vend approves of this drinking vessel.

What are you currently reading?

I’m looking at our identical twin little boys, who are learning how to write their names. I’m reading their different, some more or less accurate, interpretations of their names. Some attempts resemble looking at the inside of “the precious” ring, in ‘Lord of the Rings’. They’ve recently started this learning activity & they’re getting better every day at it.

Why do you love the HR and Recruiting industry?

It’s the most recognised & influential part of a business, in my opinion, where the best is yet to come. So many great ideas, technologies and creative approaches are being prepared for those in this space, who care about people & business.

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Who would be top 5 on your list?

Obviously there are many people who could, and perhaps should, have been included in Troy’s list. Without taking anything away from them, the same observation may also be applied to these five people I’ve elected here.

I’d like to highlight Colin Ellis, Sarah Miller, Michael Specht, Amanda Sterling & Vanessa Wiltshire, for their shared knowledge and all their contributions in building better HR practices. You’ve all influenced, challenged & encouraged me in my understanding of people & HR practice.

It’s great to see Troy placing value on others in this field & most importantly help building new community. For that endeavour, Troy, thank you. I believe your actions have inspired people, to encourage others in HR & recruitment. It has done for me.


Thanks Mark, really cool stuff there and I look forward to having a beer with you soon.

Ok, so I have been getting some people ask me who is going to be next and so the order I have now is Hassanah Rudd, Vanessa Payne and after that it is up to you.

Comment below on who you would like to hear from on the list. Also do you have any special questions you want me to ask them.

Cheers

Troy

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