Lara doesn’t like the term human resources. “I think HR is a really weird phrase,” she says. “We don’t care about resources, but we care about people. So why do we talk about people as if they’re just resources?”
She believes that, in order to be effective, the way we find tomorrow’s talent needs to constantly evolve. “The world is changing so dramatically,” Lara says, “and we have to make sure we’re making the best use of new technology and helping people to think in networks. It’s all about transparency.” The doctrine in HR has always been that management and HR know best, but Lara says that’s rarely the case and, in her opinion, everyone should own their career and drive it.
As a Global HR Business Partner at Siemens, Lara is constantly seeking ways to connect projects and people by focusing on their talents and interests, not just their CV. She feels that she creates the most impact when she acts as a conduit for people, providing a much-needed link between the needs of the company and the capabilities of employees.
Maybe a stranger is just a story you haven’t heard yet?
Working at one of the world’s biggest international companies, Lara quickly discovered the value of networking. “It’s too easy to stay within the confines of your own department,” she says, “but the best ideas happen when you talk to people from different walks of life.”
In fact, she started making connections while in the Siemens Graduate Program (SGP). Having completed an internship, and worked as a student at the company, she jumped at the chance to connect with a global pool of talent from around the world and joined the SGP.
Now into the second year of her HR role, Lara is still building on that network she first started to develop over three years ago: “If I ever need help with a project, someone I know, or someone they know, will be able to help me out.”
“It’s like a dating app, but for your career”
We already use technology to positively influence our love lives and social lives, but what about our professional lives? What if you could build a network that could further your career path? These questions led Lara and a few colleagues to come up with the idea for Sparks. “It’s like a dating app” says explains, “but for your career.”
Reaching out to someone she met on the program, the two worked together to develop a pilot that enabled both employees and employers to scroll through opportunities, search via hashtags, view each other’s profiles, and connect with each other.
After an initial pilot they are now developing the second version and will expand the pool of users. “I wanted to develop the app in an agile way,” she explains. “Usually we come up with a finished work result and roll it out to the business. But I wanted to scale it while testing.” Born out of the tech industry, agile working is all about maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. Doing adjustments bit-by-bit helps software developers to incrementally fix any bugs and learn as the app evolves rather than fine-tuning it behind closed doors.
Understanding matters of the mind
Lara’s fascination with people and the way we think stems from her background studying how social and psychological processes operate in organizations. At the University of Applied Management in Erding, Germany, she focused on organizational psychology — the study of human behavior in the workplace. “The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do was create impact in an organization full of people,” she says.
Trying to get a grip on how experiences, learnt behavior, and impact bias work takes a thorough understanding of human drivers. And, moving forward, Lara thinks we could learn from crowdsourced review sites to leverage the hive mind of the internet. “If you think about how we’ll connect in the future,” she says, “it’s less about typical structures and hierarchies, and more about networks.
Online or offline, Lara wants to meet people from as many different walks of life as possible. She’s moving to Dubai in October to continue creating impact.
When she started in her current position she wanted to encourage transparency around opportunities within the company and change how management identify talented people — it’s a similar mission to Robert Neuhauser. The Executive Vice President and Global Head of People and Leadership is responsible for orchestrating all the top management positions within the company, and he’s keen to replace traditional processes with a more attitude-based assessment. As Lara says: “HR isn’t about parenting anymore, it’s about letting people be in charge of their careers.”
Lara Pyko is a Global HR Business Partner for Siemens, Germany. She has worked at the company since 2012, currently lives in Nuremberg, and will be continuing her career in Dubai from October 2018. Find out more about working at Siemens.