A psychometric test while still at school pointed Centrica reward manager Craig Truter towards a career in HR. Now he enjoys the variety of a global role
The idea of a career in HR first came to Centrica’s reward manager, Craig Truter, while he was still at school in South Africa. “I spoke to the HR manager at the company where my father worked about my future career and she ran some psychometric tests. These showed that I was suited to a job with people and, in particular, personnel,” he explains.
Although Truter went for a related degree, studying psychology and English at the University of Cape Town, when he graduated, he decided to put his career on hold and go travelling. This took him to a variety of locations before he ended up in the UK, where he took a job as a restaurant manager for the Belgo Group.
But, almost as if to prove the accuracy of his psychometric test, it was not long before he found himself in personnel, taking on the role of HR manager for the group. “I was there for five years and had a great time overseeing the HR side of the company’s expansion from one branch in Chalk Farm to a plc with branches throughout the UK and overseas,” he says.
With this firm foundation, Truter’s career path took him to a number of other companies in the UK, including The Body Shop, where he got his first taste of benefits and compensation. Then, two years ago, he took up his current role with energy giant Centrica.
Now, variety sums up his working life. “I don’t really have a typical working week,” he says. “As an example, recently we rolled out a total reward statement to a large part of the company. This involved working closely with members of the reward team.
“Another week I would be working on my own, spending time planning and managing stakeholders. This variety takes a lot of co-ordination, but I do enjoy it.”
As well as being responsible for the company’s reward packages, Truter also looks after employees working on overseas projects. Centrica has operations around the world and Truter is responsible for global expatriate management for 12 countries, including India, Nigeria and North America. This involves helping with everything from finding an employee a home to sorting out schooling for their children.
“I really love this part of my role,” he says. “It is very real and I can see how the decisions and actions I take regarding their placements affect the employee and their family. Arranging the right school or house can make a huge difference to their overseas assignment.”
It also takes some careful management. For example, although Truter makes himself available around the clock to the expatriate staff he looks after, he has put tools in place to reduce the chance of an early morning wake-up call. “Expat employees do not have the same working hours, so we make lots of information available to them to help them with any issues they might encounter,” he says. “We also speak to them regularly to find out if there are any new issues we need to look at.”
As well as enjoying the variety of his own role, Truter says he has seen a lot of change in reward since he began his career. In particular, he has witnessed a shift from a basic structure of pay and benefits to a total reward concept. “It is a trend that is gathering momentum, especially for global companies, and I think it is very positive,” he says. “It has huge benefits for the employee and the organisation.”
One of the things he particularly likes about this shift is the way it affects how employees feel about their employer. “It is about the psychological contract between the employee and their employer,” he says. “By enabling the employee to engage with the employer on multiple levels, for instance pay, training, and personal development, it creates a much stronger bond, with greater reward for both parties. It is a very positive shift.”
2007-present reward manager, Centrica
2005-2007 reward manager, DHL Express
2003-2005 HR manager, The Body Shop
2000-2003 HR manager, Reed In Partnership (Reed plc)
1995-2000 HR manager, Belgo Group
- Who is your role model? Roger Federer. I really admire the way he behaves. He is an incredibly successful tennis player, but he has not let this go to his head.
- Do you have a favourite management book? It is not strictly a management book, but I have to say Making Waves, David Hasselhoff’s autobiography. A friend gave it to me as a joke, but it is amazingly insightful in terms of the way he works with people. His approach can be translated to the workplace, but I am also reminded of the strapline from Knight Rider: “One man can make a difference.
- What is your favourite benefit? I am a massive fan of salary sacrifice and have introduced it everywhere I have worked in reward. It can really engage staff with their benefits, but also gives something back to the business. Everyone’s a winner.
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