We’re delighted that Hannah Reid, Apple’s People Director EMEIA will be joining us at this year’s MADWorld Summit on 21st October as a judge for the TechTalk session. Hannah’s accolades include recognition as a top three senior leader at the Black British Business Awards and top 100 most influential black women at the Black Magic Gala. In this profile interview, she shares her thoughts on the importance of seizing opportunities, leading with empathy and where innovation is needed when it comes to workplace mental health and wellbeing.
First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career. How have you got to where you are today? What are your passions both inside and outside work?
My name is Hannah Reid, and I am EMEIA People Director at Apple. I have spent 19 years in Human Resources and started my career in HR after leaving university with a degree in journalism.
I began my career in the Employment tribunals service which is a great place to build HR knowledge and understand the legislation which Governs employment. I was promoted after a short time and discovered my passion for HR. When the judiciary was placed under the Department of Constitutional Affairs I decided to leave and joined the City of London Police.
I spent 8 years in various roles and worked my way up to head of HR. I did this by seizing opportunities to work on multiple projects and ensure continuous development. I was also intentional about gaining exposure to a variety of senior leaders who over time became sponsors in my progression. I also went back to university and did 2 more degrees both in HR. One of my toughest challenges was completing my dissertation for my master’s degree 2 months after giving birth to my second son.
After 8 years in policing leading the HR team and a multimillion pound change program in response to the Government’s comprehensive spending review I had been credited with awards for the work I had delivered and had to make a decision about the next phase of my career. My 20’s were coming to an end and I was one of the highest ranking black civilian women in the country so I decided it was time to move to the private sector and expand my skill set in a commercial environment.
Two and a half years after a move to Allianz, I was headhunted to join Oliver Wyman as Regional Head of HR but with responsibility for parts of EMEA and adding payroll, compensation, benefits, Mergers and Acquisitions to my experience. I was also headhunted for a position advising the Vice Chancellor of the board at Ravensbourne University. I then started working with an executive coach on my brand as I knew I had to be more intentional about my next move.
During this time, I was recognised as a top three senior leader at the black British business awards and top 100 most influential black women at the Black magic gala. I was headhunted by Gartner where I joined as senior director and partnered with the Senior Vice President of consulting on strategic priorities for the EMEA consulting business.
In my spare time I began coaching female senior leaders and leaders from the black and brown community to really embody my belief in paying it forward. I was approached by Apple just as I was driving significant impact at Gartner and made the difficult decision to leave and pursue the next chapter in my career.
I have 2 wonderful boys and an amazing husband who has been pivotal to my success in my 19-year journey. My passions are paying it forward and helping others to realise their potential. I also enjoy travel, music and boxing. You will often hear me saying ‘you cannot outperform your own level of self-esteem’. I firmly believe in being intentional about how you invest your time both personally and professionally.
The pandemic has forced mental and physical health to the top of many organisations’ agendas. Our goal is to make sure it remains a priority and becomes embedded as business as usual post-COVID. How would you suggest people driving this agenda within their workplaces can achieve this?
Post-COVID wellbeing easily sits in the top priorities for all businesses, the business case has now evolved from productivity and trust. A wellbeing strategy is not something to be delivered as a stand-alone policy or series of initiatives but rather this is key to employee engagement, the sustainability of talent attraction and retention.
Many companies will either operate a hybrid model of home and office work or 100% working from home. The benefits of working from home full time are as well documented as the challenges. Those challenges are predominantly centred around mental wellbeing, managing psychological safety, and avoiding feelings of isolation.
Wellbeing can also help drive the inclusion agenda as the feeling of belonging and engagement are paramount to D&I as well as wellbeing. Businesses should risk assess their organisations to ensure their leaders are well versed in wellbeing, trained in empathetic leadership, and role-modelling a culture that promotes mental health.
I also think it is important to ensure you review your structure to ensure you can support your employees. Having offerings no one can utilise due to the operating model is counterproductive and even when the structure is conducive you need to encourage usage. Having robust policies and procedures is important but it cannot become an underutilised resource as we see with traditional tools like EAP.
We need active overt role-modelling, innovative and accessible solutions. Progressive organisations are charged with holding empathetic leaders accountable for their role in mental wellbeing and judgement free cultures where employees are able to share how they feel.
We are delighted that you will be joining us as a judge for this year’s TechTalk@MADWorld awards at the Summit on 21st October in London. Where do you think most innovation is needed when it comes to workplace mental health and wellbeing?
The first is accessible content, utilising tools we use in our daily lives such as Apps. We also need easy to navigate tools with a mixture of self-help so we can continue to educate to enable as well as offer expertise available 24/7. There are already several great Apps in this space for different purposes – for example meditation and resilience building. It would be great to see these tie into tools we have around productivity that suggest efficiency gains and some development in how we work more effectively to reduce stress.
I would love to see solutions to in-person benefits we lost due to Covid like we saw with all the great work on bringing the gym into our homes recognising the importance of physical wellbeing. Providers have created great offerings with online doctors and therapist, what about other creative forms of content that are known to be great for increasing physical and mental wellbeing?
How do we provide bitesize education and technology that encourages mental wellbeing integrated into workplace systems such as the calendars that automatically adjust meeting cadence in line with wellbeing policies? For example, if the policy is starting meetings at 5 past the hour to encourage a break in between calls, then the technology is enabling a culture of breaks.
Other great advancements are gamification to promote wellbeing such as signing up to pledge minutes to take time out to meditate or to exercise and sharing those platforms which everyone can participate on – allocating points and prizes. These are also great tools for role-modelling as you can see senior leaders involved and if they refer to it in meetings it encourages more participation and a bit of fun.
I would also like to see innovation around engaging families, so we find ways to build a better society and inspire and educate our young people.
What are you looking forward to most about the MADWorld Summit?
I always enjoy hearing speakers at these events and the list of speakers is brilliant. There are so many to choose from. I am excited to be in person at a conference again as networking remotely has been difficult.
It will also be wonderful to see the evolution of all the tools now available to support employee wellbeing and of course I am looking forward to being a judge! I know it will be difficult to pick a winner as there is such phenomenal work being done and it’s wonderful to see the impact this has on our society.
The MAD World Summit is on Thursday 21st October, in-person at 133 Houndsditch in Central London. The Summit is the go-to event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing.
There are 3 ways to attend – either with a Full Pass which includes the keynotes, case studies, roundtables and refreshments, a Free Pass for the workshops and exhibition, or a post-event Digital Pass. For more information visit the event agenda or to book visit the booking page.