Meet the Team: Interview with Andrew MacLeod

Andrew MacLeodCo-Founder and Partner at Red House International (RHI), Andrew is a human capital and total rewards leader with over 20 years of global management consulting experience.

Why did you and Victoria launch RHI?

Myself and my business partner, Victoria Laidler, identified an opportunity to start a fresh new Reward and Human Capital consultancy that would have smart agile technology systems at its core. We’re passionate about really helping businesses meet their HR needs and envisaged a way of doing things differently. We saw there was a way of marrying excellent service and solutions from highly experienced consultants with exciting and innovative technology that genuinely makes a difference. It’s exciting to be part of a business that’s striving to do things better and involves a cherry-picked team of professionals we’ve worked with over the years and know are the best at what they do.

What problem does RHI solve and what differentiates it from other consultancies?

We have established our firm on core principles of deep industry expertise and agile technology solutions. Increasingly, in the HR consulting industry, there has been more and more focus on standardisation.  Our suite of solutions – ranging from industry-specific market data surveys to gender pay reporting, operational and HR audit, governance and employee engagement – is built around the unique requirements of the industries we serve. The key is that we have full control of our technology, and work closely with our development team to customise or apply feature requests as required. Clients don’t have the standard issue of being stuck in a global queue, waiting for approvals, as it is managed directly within the team.

Do you see the firm more as an HR tech start-up or a consultancy?

Well that’s a difficult question to answer, as we play to our strengths in both areas. Certainly, at times over the past 18 months, I would say a technology start-up. We have rolled out an ambitious development programme and certified our technology infrastructure and information security systems to the international ISO27001 standard. It has been an incredible amount of hard work, but we look back now and are blown away by what we have achieved. One of the most rewarding aspects of the role is hearing from our clients how impressed they are with our solutions. It simply reinforces our belief that we have solutions that are strongly differentiated in the market and respond to a client need for more bespoke technology platforms.

How is next generation data analytics and data science transforming your industry?

For many firms, their human capital function begun its digitisation journey a decade ago. Whilst there are some clear leaders in the industry, it’s always a little surprising how few firms have fully embraced the benefits of HR digital transformation. The current pandemic will certainly require firms to expedite this process. We believe digitisation goes so much deeper than a sophisticated HRIS and payroll system; the true benefits of digitisation come with layering on business intelligence and machine learning infrastructure that provide fast insights to inform business decisions, and predictive analytics that inform and support HR strategies. This crisis has made it crystal clear that the management of human capital assets is one of the most important factors to business success, and therefore it is only right that these assets are cared for and supported with strong governance and business intelligence.

What is the most critical initiative you are working on now and how do plan on achieving it? 

This is a great question and very hard to determine. Certainly, the most exciting work we are doing right now is in the field of predictive analytics. With the pace of change in the current climate, data very quickly becomes out of date. Predictive analytics are enormously powerful to enable future insights to be drawn from known current variables and historic trends. This is clearly evidenced in our GapHub (pay gap reporting and analytics) platform, through which we can provide deep tangible insights into what changes need to happen to measurably move the needle. All too often, a headline number does not provide sufficient context to build an action plan that will meaningfully explain the extent to which change is required, and it’s only with this additional deep-dive analytics and insight that reliable decisions can be made. After a 12 month break, we’re also looking forward to relaunching the new and improved Hotel Industry Rewards Group (HIRG) EMEA Survey for 2021, as members will have been without quality data for 2 years, and it will be critical to have insight and evidence available to support post-pandemic planning and recovery.

Mandatory UK gender pay reporting was suspended this year due to the pandemic. How have your clients responded?

Many of our clients are committed to producing insights on their gender pay differentials, and we have seen them proceed with reporting even though it is not required for 2020. Others have taken the opportunity to kick-off the 2021 cycle earlier and are preparing for 2021 reporting now, well in advance of the 30 April deadline. I’m looking forward to making the GapHub data collection, reporting and visualisation tool available to our clients, to provide even greater support and insight throughout the process.

RHI has a strong focus on the hospitality and travel industries. What will need to change as the industry moves into post-pandemic planning and recovery?

It’s a really interesting question, and one that I think may take up too much time for a short interview. One critical element in the Reward and Human Capital space is the need for robust data and evidence-based decision-making. There will be even more scrutiny on structures and costs, whilst planning for pandemic recovery will place pressure on HR professionals to provide evidence to support their proposals. Whilst the current focus has been on restructuring and downsizing, there is also perhaps the greater challenge of rapidly building the business post pandemic and knowing when to hit the growth button.

How are you keeping the team engaged during these challenging times?

Like many firms, our colleagues are currently working remotely. However, we’re lucky because we’re used to working in this way with our global team, so have been well placed to maintain  communication resilience. We’ve been having regular video calls to review current projects and opportunities, update on software development, and carry out live trainings which are followed by an exam and certification. I like to keep the team on their toes by wearing unusual outfits to the video calls – they tell me their favourite so far has been the work shirt with tartan trouser combo!

How do you drive innovation and new product cycles?

For any firm with technology at its heart, innovation drives differentiation, and we clearly see this as one of the most important factors in our company’s success. We are fortunate due to our size; the whole team internationally is very close to our technology infrastructure and teeming with ideas to enhance it further. We also embed direct client feedback in our roadmap. We don’t want our systems to just be good, we want them to superb. Finally, I would say we have a fabulous development team that really understand what we are trying to achieve and are actively involved in ongoing system improvement. This holistic feedback means we are regularly pushing through system enhancements to further differentiate our products and services.

What are the big milestones you are looking to achieve in 2020 and beyond?

We have a very ambitious technology development pipeline. We have already rolled out the RewardHub platform, supporting industry network groups and reward surveys, GapHub focused on gender and ethnicity pay analytics, PulseHub employee engagement and AuditHub HR and Operational audits. We will shortly be launching our M&A due diligence and post-merger integration platform.

What is your vision for RHI?

In the past 18 months, we have developed a hugely impressive client base and feel enormously privileged to have been selected to work with these firms. I speak for the team when I say how sorry I am that the hotel and airline industries have suffered so much in the recent crisis, and we look forward to working with our clients to re-group and re-build over the coming months. Our focus now is on ensuring we deliver value to our existing clients and new clients in these industries. We certainly have lofty ambitions but, equally, we have always been very prudent not to take what we have for granted.

Co-Founder and Partner at RHI, Andrew has consulted on a wide range of human capital, reward and operational performance assignments including M&As, reward strategy, global job architecture, HR policy, diversity & inclusion (including gender pay reporting), equal pay audits, performance management, manpower planning and incentive and sales compensation plan design. Prior to founding RHI, Andrew held a number of leadership roles in Aon’s Human Capital practice, including leadership of the broad-based reward consulting and pay research analytics practice for the UK. Andrew also led Aon’s Talent & Organisation Analytics practice across Europe for more than 12 years, leading industry network groups and associations. He has deep industry knowledge and expertise across the hospitality industry, commercial real estate, financial services, global automotive and upstream oil and gas. Andrew previously worked at Willis Towers Watson, and holds a B.A. (hons.) in Economics from the University of St. Andrews. He lives in London with his wife, two children and their cockerpoo, Bumpy.


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