Quick fire with award-winning HR director Shakil Butt

2 minute read

From HR heroes to zombie brains, ThePeopleSpace's new contributor Shakil Butt shares some personal thoughts

Shakil Butt

ThePeopleSpace is delighted to announce that award-winning HR director Shakil Butt is joining our line-up of inspirational contributors. Butt is the former director for human resources and organisational development at Islamic Relief Worldwide, one of the largest global relief and development charities in the UK, and will be sharing his thoughts and practices from over 20 years of experience leading a global HR team in a multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural environment with ThePeopleSpace audience.

We caught up with him to find out what our readers can expect from his contributions.

Your business is called HR Hero 4 Hire. What makes a HR hero?

Anyone can be an HR Hero but it begins with being in the people space wanting to make a difference to others by improving the employee experience and unleashing a person’s potential. Courage is an absolute prerequisite to do the right thing but also to be brave enough get out of one’s comfort zone and embrace change, adopt technology and be conversant with data.

Who is your HR hero?

It would have to be Perry Timms who is my teacher, mentor and friend. Perry is a force of nature on a mission to rethink what HR has to offer and marries the role of HR with being able to effect social change and deliver social justice. POW! We are like Batman and Robin with me being Batman of course, but don’t tell Perry.

You moved from a big, permanent HR role to setting up your own consultancy last year. How scary was that?

Scary? Who said it was scary. Scary is too tame a word. It is terrifying and yet liberating in equal measure. The constant self doubt over whether the consultancy is going to be successful, the lack of certainty and security not knowing when the next contract is going to materialise balanced against the freedom to work with people I want to work with on the things I want to work with. The master of my own destiny...too much?

We know you enjoy reading and learning. What was your favourite book last year?

I really enjoyed a number of HR books this year that included Perry Timms’s Transformational HR and Karen Beaven’s Strategic Human Resource Management as well as Fazl Siddiqui’s The Coveted Leader using a storytelling approach to convey lessons of leadership. The one book that stood out for me was Dr David Lewis’s Impulse: Why we do what we do without knowing why we do it. It was an interesting learning point that much of our decision making is driven not by our cognitive mind but instead by what he terms ‘the zombie brain’ which can be devoid of reasoning and logic.

ThePeopleSpace has been lucky enough to be one of those to #catchupovercoffee with you last year. What is your favourite coffee?

My default coffee tends to be a latte or a cappuccino which is more evidence than not of allowing my 'zombie brain' to take charge of my mouth when I order my drink. I do have a leaning towards the spiced pumpkin latte that appeared mysteriously around the Halloween festival. My favourite #catchupovercoffee, after meeting over 30 people, is a difficult one to answer but some do stand out more than others, including Sam Wothers, Ifraz Ahmed, Garry Turner and of course ThePeopleSpace’s very own Siân Harrington.

What can ThePeopleSpace audience expect from your contributions?

Nothing. That way I cannot disappoint. However I do have a certain lens that I approach the world of HR, from having the broader responsibility for the profession as a whole, being a CIPD board member, to having been a former HRD and practitioner. Having spent two decades working for a global charity and as an accountant gives me another perspective unique to my experiences. Judging HR awards also means I get to see what great looks like. Finally, I love to have fun and live the mantra that I am deadly serious about the work but nothing else; so I can get on my soap box at times, while other times I am happy to be a little quirky.

Published 23 January 2019
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