Daring to be Different: the IKEA HR team share their IKEA experience.

IKEA are embarking on an exciting growth programme which of course creates challenges when it comes to recruiting additional resources to support this expansion. A key focus for this recruitment is in the HR team where they are looking to recruit co-workers from a variety of backgrounds. The environment is unique, as is their approach to recruitment which is focused on the person rather than the CV. Crucially, a classic HR background is not a pre-requisite. More important is a passion for people, an understanding of how to deliver strategy and processes within teams and of course, an alignment with the IKEA values. An understanding of the Retail environment is helpful of course, particularly given the scale of the IKEA store operation! However, it is not essential and the team are interested in people from different backgrounds who can bring a fresh approach. As part of the campaign to source HR Managers in Training, we thought it would be useful to talk to the existing team to find out where they have worked previously, how they have found the transition and what their role entails. As you will see from the following interviews, every member of the team brings a unique perspective to their role which we hope will inspire you to consider IKEA as an employer of choice. Thank you to the IKEA team for their support – you can read their stories here:   Dominique Sayce, HR Manager   Debbie Cox, Recruitment and Competence Development Manager   Darren Taylor, Deputy Country HR Manager, UK&IE   Aoife McCarthy, HR Manager, Dublin   Lisa Duxbury, UK&IE Recruitment Specialist   To read more about these vacancies at IKEA, click here
 

Interview with Debbie Cox, Recruitment & Development Manager, IKEA

Name:                                     Debbie Cox Role within IKEA:              Recruitment & Competence Development Manager Biography: IKEA FOOD manager Gateshead store & Wembley store; Assistant Store Manager Oslo, Norway; IKEA FOOD Country Manager Norway & Denmark; IKEA FOOD UK Competence Developer; numerous secondments and projects. Debbie, you joined IKEA from being a foodcourt manager in 1994, how did you find the transition? It was over 20 years ago now, but I remember it not being so easy. I"d come from a typically British hierarchical retail catering background where direction was created for me. Suddenly, I had to create my own direction. Once I got used to this, it was incredibly exciting, but I had to learn a thing or two about myself along the way. One thing I will say though...the people around me in IKEA were – and are – never less than welcoming, helpful and friendly. This is why I knew joining IKEA was the right thing for me. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? I"d not done HR before joining IKEA, and I guess that speaks for itself! The opportunities to take your career in different, and unexpected, directions are very much alive in IKEA. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? Influencing skills are key – the ability to get buy-in from colleagues is essential for success in IKEA as all leaders have a certain level of autonomy. Perseverence; things can take time in IKEA and you need to be able to stick with it. A strong identification with the IKEA culture & values – you have that, you’ll be able to achieve anything. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? A fresh outlook. Open to ideas and contributing ideas – no matter how off the wall they may seem. A willingness to put themselves in new situations. Passion. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Recruitment. I’ve only just taken this on as part of my role and not having a HR background, I know nothing about it. It’s probably only in IKEA where this is seen as a good thing! I guess I bring fresh eyes, a new perspective , and can challenge received wisdoms. We’re about to go in to expansion mode so there’s a lot of recruiting to do and it needs to be done differently than we’ve done it in the past. What will your next role be within IKEA? No idea! That’s the beauty of it. It could be anything. I’ve never had a career plan, but just walked through the doors as they opened! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The fast pace, the freedom to set your own agenda, the space to be who you are. To read more about opportunities to join the HR team at IKEA, click here
 

Interview with Dominique Sayce, HR Manager, IKEA

Name:                                     Dominique Sayce Role within IKEA:              HR Manager Biography: Area Manager for Aldi Stores Ltd: A regional role achieved through the fast track Graduate Programme, which covered between 4-6 stores around the Bristol area. Responsible for an average of 125 employees, and weekly turnover of £750k+. A wide ranging role which entailed area recruitment, financial planning and forecasting, area wide recruitment, inventory auditing, coaching and development, cost control, competitor analysis , full HR responsibility and project work which included National Apprenticeship Roll Out for the South West, new store opening in Fishponds and restructuring of training programme for Store and Area Managers. Finance Consultant for Michael Page Ltd: Specialising in the qualified and executive finance arena, I covered the Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucester region specialising in qualified accountants  through to Director level recruitment. Dominique, you joined IKEA in December 2014, how have you found the transition? The transition into IKEA is an ongoing journey – one in which I have only recently started. It truly is a different world, but one in which you get a lot of helping hands along the way, pulling you through and guiding your every step. Never before have I worked in an environment where it is in everyone’s interest to watch you succeed and you are actually encouraged to take your time, learn the ropes and get to know everyone before you actually step into your official role. As corny as it sounds, I feel like I can be myself and let down my barriers to really get to know my colleagues and co-workers. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? I would say it is more so the environment that differs, as opposed to the expectations of the role. The responsibility of HR throughout the commercial realm is to lead and develop staff, to spot and nurture talent, to provide robust systems and processes to ensure fair and diverse recruitment and to overall, provide a safe and enjoyable working environment for all employees. However, IKEA actually provide the environment where the needs and happiness of the employees is a number one priority. It’s not governed by targets and KPIs, it is more focused on leading by example and creating the type of environment where employees naturally enjoy coming to work, are motivated and proud to represent IKEA and want to work together to really drive the business forward. From an HR Manager perspective, I feel as if I have the scope to spread my wings, really get close to employees to understand truly their needs and perspectives and then build upon those findings and relationships to create processes and systems which suit our store. The UK IKEA “HR Guidelines” are there as a support function; they set the structure for how to conduct business, but we have real autonomy on a local level to adapt our processes and focus to cater for our co-workers. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? It is a wide role and often quite hard to pin down each and every aspect of the HR Manager role, but I would summarise the key qualities to be: approachableness, honesty, humbleness and passion. It is commendable to try new things, to dare to be different and to strive for improvements throughout the store. It is ok to make mistakes, to learn from them and not be scared to go to plan B, C or even D! Passion shines through. In order to drive changes and success, it is crucial to have your team and co-workers behind you. By leading through people and by example, passion is infectious and creates the “feel good” factor. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? Apologies for the “thesaurus” approach to this question, but I truly believe that each co-worker (regardless of job role or seniority) displays the following characteristics: openness, honesty, passion, motivation, dedication, humbleness, desire to improve and find new ways of working, keen to share best practice, ability to build relationships and more that anything, have two ears and one mouth! What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. IKEA truly is an anomaly in that your values, personality, attitude and passion are the key drivers to success. If you are someone who is a people person, who believes that relationships are the key to success, is ambitious and eager to find better ways of working, and ultimately wants to work for a firm where you are employed for who you are – come to IKEA. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Given I am new to the role, my biggest challenge is learning the IKEA Way. Coming from quite a hard commercial background, it is a very different way of looking at business. I am being encouraged to walk and then crawl, having been used to being expected to run from day 1. Also, relaxing into an environment where the focus is on building relationships and getting to know the entire business. What will your next role be within IKEA? Quite hard to say as I have currently only been in my role for 2.5 months. Nonetheless, the freedom internally to move disciplines means that I can get quite excited about the freedom to consider options such as Logistics Manager or Business Navigation. That said, there are always numerous opportunities which will be arriving due to the extension and upcoming project plans for the UK. And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The best thing about working for IKEA is the autonomy to shape your role, to experiment and bring new ideas to the table and the freedom (and expectation) to truly spend the time getting to know co-workers and building relationships. Not many companies offer this opportunity. In so many firms nowadays, the expectation is to be up and running as soon as possible, delivering targets and meeting KPIs. Never have I ever worked for a firm such as IKEA, who genuinely place so much pride and emphasis on the strength and relationships of their employees.    To read more about the opportunity to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

Interview with Lisa Duxbury, UK&IE Recruitment Specialist, IKEA

Name:                              Lisa Duxbury Role within IKEA:       UK & IE Recruitment Specialist Biography: I joined IKEA as a co-worker in the Lakeside store working in customer services. After 18 months I joined the HR team as HR Administrator, and then went on to other roles in HR including store Recruitment Specialist, L&D Specialist and HR Generalist. I took part in some internal development programmes to then move on from the store and take the role of the HR Manager in our UK & IE Service Office. I have been in my current role for 2 years. Lisa, how did you find the transition when you joined IKEA? I joined IKEA way back in 1997! I remember getting lost in the store and meeting so many new people in the large store teams. But I remember feeling connected to IKEA very quickly and very soon feeling at home! How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? Really having a voice in the People Agenda in your unit! By working alongside the store team everyday and working in a multi functional way we can really ensure that we are making our stores a great place to work. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? Openness to learning, being a strong leader and having a passion for developing people. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? Being open to learning new things, being self aware and being you. I like to see a connection between people and the business together if possible. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Just be yourself and be open. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? Looking after candidates in a good way so whatever the recruitment outcome, everyone has a positive experience meeting IKEA. What will your next role be within IKEA? I’d like to work in the store again! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? Working with likeminded people who share the same values and passion for making IKEA a great place to work! To read more about the opportunity to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

Interview with Darren Taylor, Deputy Country HR Manager UK&IE, IKEA

Name:                                     Darren Taylor Role within IKEA:              Deputy Country HR Manager UK& IE Biography: University Graduate -1996 Experience in a main stream DIY and food retailers - 1993 - 1997 Darren, you joined IKEA from Do It All DIY in 1997, how have you found the transition? I joined IKEA in 1997 from, at the time, a main stream DIY chain where I was a warehouse supervisor. The transition for me was very natural; the fast paced retail environment that IKEA offered suited my strong work ethic and offered me career opportunities as well as an environment to grow as a manager and a leader. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? Over the last 17 years in IKEA I have had a number of roles, starting as a trainee department sales manager in the cook shop area and then spending the next 13 years working with the IKEA commercial functions in various roles in four IKEA stores. In 2011, I decided to try a different direction and diversified by taking a position as a Store HR Manager in Nottingham. I then joined the Country HR team as the Deputy Country HR Manager in 2014. As a Store HR Manager there were a lot of similarities and transferable skills which I used before and still rely on daily. A passion for working with the customer and leading a team of co-people is a common theme through my career; I use these skills today as much as I did in all of my previous roles. The HR manager role in IKEA gives you freedom to develop a short, mid and long term approach to working with a “People plan” in your local market. The key is to engage the 300+ co-workers and management team in your store, while at the same time you have the opportunity to develop and lead the business from the front, making key decisions within the store to secure the IKEA brand. In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? The key skills for this role are, having a passion for people; this includes both the customer and co-workers alike. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? The candidates who stand out are the ones who are comfortable with who they are, being self aware of their skills, how they lead, what they want to personally develop, how they can contribute to IKEA’s growth as a brand. What is also important is having a passion for home furnishings and how to connect this to customers’ and co-workers’ lives, needs and aspirations. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself, be open, passionate and inspire; it’s not necessarily about what you have done in the past but more what you can do in the future. Enjoy the interview and share your views. What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? IKEA is growing so fast in the UK&IE ; with our customer and co-workers’ needs constantly changing and evolving, my biggest challenge today is to make sure we are living up to our vision, HR idea and core values in all of these diverse and exciting markets . What will your next role be within IKEA? My career has been very varied and has changed direction many times, however I always feel comfortable with the fact that you can have many different careers in IKEA without moving company. My ambition is to be a Country HR Manager over the next 3-5 years, in a European country; lets see where the next few years takes me.... And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The best thing for me is the freedom to grow both personally and with the business. Every day there is a new challenge, but each one is exciting and stretches me to become a better person, leader and retailer. To read more about opportunities to join the IKEA HR team, click here  
 

Interview with Aoife McCarthy, HR Manager, Dublin, IKEA

Name:                               Aoife McCarthy Role within IKEA:       HR Manager, Dublin Biography: I have 13 years experience in HR, 11 years as an HR Manager across a number of different sectors – telecommunications, sales and retail. I have worked with Xerox, Google, Manpower and CPM Ireland. Aoife, you joined IKEA from CPM Ireland in September 2014, how have you found the transition? I will be honest, it has been intense. Changing jobs can be challenging as you absorb yourself in the new culture and the learning curve is significant, no matter how much experience you have. It’s like starting school again! I was also returning to work from maternity leave for the first time so adapting to life as a working mum was equally challenging. But since joining IKEA, I have not looked back. It has been an incredible experience so far. The first thing I noticed about IKEA was how welcoming everybody was - the co-workers had such a wonderful spirit within them, it immediately felt like home and I knew I was part of something very special. Within a few weeks, I felt like I had always been there. Understanding the culture is one of the most important things before making the transition to a new job. As a new mum, IKEA have been so supportive as I adapt to striking the balance between home and work. I really don’t believe I would have gotten the same level of support in another company. How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role? People are at the forefront of IKEA’s business strategy which isn’t always the case for some companies. Everything we do at IKEA aims to support our co-workers. The biggest difference for me as an HR Manager in IKEA is supporting the store as Duty Manager at weekends. This is a fantastic way of keeping close to challenges in store and utilising this information in driving the people agenda forward. It also keeps me close to the co-workers and ensures I am continuously building relationships. I also work in partnership with our Business Navigator which is different to previous roles. Our relationship is critical in steering the business in the right way and we support each other in decision making. Also, I never had to wear a uniform until joining IKEA – I love not having to think about what I’m wearing, it’s at least an extra 25 minutes of sleep each week when you know what you’re wearing the next day!! In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role? As an HR Manager, you need to be people focused, commercially astute, decisive and highly energetic. You need a high level of empathy while being able to adapt to an ever changing daily agenda. You also need to be a very strong leader. IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA? I really believe that if you are committed to putting the customer first, have a high level of integrity and the desire to learn while learning from mistakes, you will be very successful in IKEA. What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA? Be yourself. It is as much about IKEA being right for you as it is you being right for IKEA. If it’s really right for you, you might actually enjoy yourself at interview, I know I did! What is the biggest challenge in your role at present? My biggest challenge currently is prioritising. There are so many exciting projects on the HR agenda, I am eager to get me teeth stuck into all of them however I also need to manage the day to day operational issues in store. What will your next role be within IKEA?      I always thought that I would stay within HR for the rest of my career but IKEA has taught me that if you are a strong leader and you have the ability to learn quickly, you can do anything and IKEA will support and develop you. I would love to be an Assistant Store Manager some day! And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA? The people. They are IKEA’s best assets and I am so proud to be a part of them.   To read more about the opportunities to join the IKEA HR team, click here
 

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