Euan Hutchinson, EMEA rewards director at Johnson and Johnson, has realised the value of good communication and team working since his transition from trained accountant to reward leader.
Hutchinson never intended to become a reward manager. He studied accountancy at the University of Strathclyde in 1985, but a chance opening with a client while working as a consultant changed his career path forever.
“I was originally an accountant specialising in tax for 10 years, and then I started to have the opportunity to do some consulting,” he says. “One of the clients I had worked with for quite some time was Compaq, the technology organisation.
“Eventually, one of Compaq’s HR managers notified me that one of their managers was leaving and he suggested that I would be a really good candidate for them. I took them up on the offer.”
Hutchinson looks back on the change as a brilliant move and wishes that he made the transition earlier in his career. “All the work I had been doing, in consulting and accounting, really came to life when I became a rewards manager,” he says. “You don’t walk away at the end of the project and I really loved being part of a team,” he says.
Although not a reward manager from the start of his career, Hutchinson has learnt some valuable lessons. “My accountancy training was tremendous,” he says. “It gave me the commercial awareness and discipline to take on different roles and learn a great deal.”
With his vast experience within the reward industry, Hutchinson has picked up some great tips throughout his career. “I value fairly simple things like communication, which is key,” he says. “In other words, I have to tell stories, which have a beginning, middle and end, and explain them effectively to an organisation’s employees.
“I’ve encountered really diverse cultural communicative climates and you just have to adapt yourself. I saw that when I went from Hewlett Packard (HP) to Skype. At the time, HP had hundreds of thousands of employees, whereas Skype’s employees were in the hundreds. I had to re-learn how to be successful and rely on your core skills.” he says.
Hutchinson says his biggest achievement to date has been to create a mindset of more collaborative working when he was at HP. “It’s the legacy of the team we left behind, with a great lasting impact,” he says.
Hutchinson, who is clearly very passionate about his job, has not come across any great hurdles that held him back. Even his transition from reward consultant to reward manager was almost seamless. “I actually found it quite straightforward,” he says. “There was a lot of familiarity, even though I’ve never learned the nuts and bolts of what it is to be a rewards manager.”
He explains that the future of reward management involves data collection. “Johnson and Johnson is trying to use more powerful data and analytics,” he says. “We are actually trying to predict what the future looks like and the solutions we will need to try and stimulate the right conversations.”
2011-present EMEA rewards director, Johnson and Johnson
2009-2011 head of rewards and operations, Skype
2002-2009 EMEA benefits director then EMEA rewards director, HP
2000-2002 country rewards manager, Compaq
1998-2000 human capital services manager, Arthur Andersen
Q & A
Do you have any role models or someone who has inspired you?
I have been very fortunate to have worked with some very great HR leaders, who have given me opportunities and responsibilities and have helped push me. My bosses at Compaq, HP and Skype were all brilliant. They have all helped developed my career.
Do you read any management books?
Not really, I’m a big auto-biography reader. I sometimes read a sporting one, sometimes one about a politician. The biography of [Johnson and Johnson founder] Robert Wood Johnson, The Gentleman Rebel, is inspiring. Johnson was a real revolutionary in his time and he wrote the Johnson and Johnson credo, which is the organisation’s ethos to this day.
How would you describe yourself?
First and foremost, I’d like to think that I’m very commercially orientated. That comes with the business training I had 20 odd years ago. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a technical type of reward person. l like to think that I’ve got the balance between making smart decisions and the ability to use technology.