Q&A: Susie Quirk: “Data helps us develop our employees”

Author: Kate Whitehead | Date: 24 Feb 2016

KPMG’s People and Change Advisory Service lead partner talks about big data and evidence-based HR

Susie QuirkIf anyone knows about using analytics to influence talent management, it’s Susie Quirk, lead partner for KPMG’s People and Change Advisory Service in Hong Kong and China. Quirk has more than 20 years’ corporate experience and has spent 10 years consulting on business transformation leadership. Her recent work in Hong Kong has underlined the need to see how data can be used to manage the war on talent.
How can people data be used to unlock business potential?
I’ll give you one example: we worked with a global bank to try to answer a revenue generation question. The hypothesis we were testing was: what is the profile of the employee that would generate the highest revenue in a particular branch?
 
We looked at all aspects of employee data – gender, tenure of service, revenue generation, overall performance data and customer satisfaction – we noticed it was part-time, middle-aged females that had the highest revenue generation potential. We realised it was because they actually use the products they are selling and they mirrored the customer population. What that meant was that the bank changed its recruitment profile – they were recruiting a lot of young graduates, and realised they weren’t perhaps best suited to this type of role.
 
How did you learn to make the most of big data?
KPMG started a centre of excellence in people management about four years ago to support and develop our consultants around the world. Right from the get-go they were training us in managing data more effectively. We call our approach evidence-based HR – it’s no longer HR information for HR professionals, its HR results for business professionals. So we can take the employee data and give the CEO insights into people strategies and what capabilities he or she might need in the future. We are also supported by a global data analytics team.
 
What are the emerging trends in data?
One of the things that has been emerging over the last six months is that now organisations can analyse the profile of a person who will leave the organisation in the first 12, 18 months, two years, five years. If you think about what that means for organisations, you are really going to change the way you think about how you develop employees, in particular high potential people. Where will this go in the future? I believe the next step is to link an individual’s performance and the organisation’s profit.
 
What about the possible risks posed by big data predictions?
There is a level of risk analysis that goes with this: how do you use data and make sure it’s used effectively. I think we are judicious enough as a profession to appreciate that. Organisations are using data to inform how they develop people rather than say, ‘We won’t hire that person because they don’t fit the profile’. They are aligning profiles to the right role.
 
What are you most excited about?
I’m excited about how an organisation’s values are becoming much more explicitly important to the C-suite. For many years, organisations said, ‘We’ve got our values – integrity, honesty, etc’. What we are now seeing is a distinct link between what it is we truly value and how we behave, and then what the output as a result of that. They can clearly see a link now, and I don’t think they could five years ago.