The HR Architect Spends 5 Minutes With … Geoff Pearman

Introducing Geoff Pearman, Managing Director, Partners in Change

Geoff Pearman is the managing director of Partners in Change an organisational and workforce development consultancy.  Geoff’s background is in the social services, universities and government. He has worked in New Zealand and Australia. Geoff has qualifications in sociology (organisational change), social work and adult education.

 Am I an HR practitioner? I have never thought of myself in that way or been asked the question. My background is in social work, training and development, adult and continuing education and management. I enjoy working with organisations to find solutions to vexatious people issues, developing new programmes and seeing individuals, teams and organisations grow and develop. If that makes me an HR practitioner and I need to be fitted into an HR slot then I guess my field is organisational and workforce development.

A turning point

What could be more fun than doing what you enjoy and being paid for it? Over the past 5 years my career has developed in ways I would have never dreamed.

In 2007 I met Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures in San Francisco at a conference in Vancouver. At the time I had no idea that attending a lunchtime session on the ageing population would have such a profound influence on what I am now doing. Marc introduced me to encore careers. Careers that “combine, passion, purpose and a pay check”.  It wasn’t a straight line from that workshop to now. I not only needed to research ageing workforces and understand the demographics (which are scary) but also experience the practical realities. To be made redundant from two jobs in your late fifties delivers unique insights and focuses the mind.

So what is occupying my time at present

I am just finishing a contract with a large Government agency of over 3000 employees where I have lead the development of their workforce capability strategy. This has been challenging and played to my strategic and future thinking strengths.  As an aside I am currently using dialogue-based methods to open up very productive conversations between unions and employers. It was a case of “if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got.” So we are changing the mode of communication and getting excellent outcomes on some long standing knotty issues.

Alongside of this I have been establishing my consultancy Partners in Change and more recently working to build a presence in Australia. I am enjoying running regular workshops on stakeholder engagement. Another fascinating project I am working on at present is with a professional association to build an online learning exchange for it members. However the big one for me is the ageing workforce and Staying On

I have come to see this as possibly one of the biggest workforce challenges of the 21st century. As one person put it recently, this is no longer an HR issue, but rather a strategic imperative focused on workforce capability. Given the significance of what is happening and the nature of the business and commercial risk for many companies I would argue this is first and foremost an issue for the board and executive. They have got to engage with the challenge strategically, understand their risk profile, the age wave dynamic and the business imperative.

HR has much to offer from its toolbox in working with the executive in coming to grips with the phenomena of the ageing workforce. However what I am observing is that the challenge for many in the HR profession is being able to move from being transactional to becoming transformational business partners with senior management in tackling the big issues.

The Future

The ageing workforce issue is not going away, it will only become more acute. I see myself working in this field on both sides of the Tasman and helping companies face up to the challenge of the age-wave. From June I will be based in Brisbane.

Closing Statement

I will leave you with a stunning image shot by my wife Jan on the Christchurch estuary and a quote that challenges me every day – “we create the future by changing the nature of decision making in the present”.

Interviewed by Tony Wiggins

Tony Wiggins is the Founder and UX Editor of Saturday Shoutout!!! and The HR Architect Spends 5 Minutes with …. Tony utilises the blog ‘The HR Architect’ as a social media network and platform that empowers HR professionals to network, assist and support one another, spanning different countries, subcultures and niches.

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