Placing HR in the driver’s seat

April 3, 2018


Oliver Sommer is our man on the ground in Denmark. Working closely with customers and with all the resources of Harvey Nash, he is helping to build our business and further strengthen our offer within recruitment and development of managers and specialists across a range of industry sectors.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role today?

I work as a Consultant today, here at our Copenhagen office, with search assignments across most industries and functions. We are a small customer-centric team working across our two brands Alumni and Harvey Nash, both part of Harvey Nash Group. We have our separate networks but have a complementary service offering and we are able to help clients on many different levels with their recruitment and talent needs.


So how did you end up at Harvey Nash?

I initially started studying history which I realized wasn’t something for me, so I jumped into business administration and philosophy, ending up taking a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. This is where I got interested in recruitment as a discipline – mostly because I could apply all kind of theory to the field; from philosophy, psychology and sociology to microeconomics and statistics.

Before joining Harvey Nash, I had the opportunity to work both for a temp agency and later at a Danish search firm working on search assignments at specialist and C-level. Through that experience, I feel I gained valuable insights into the different spectrums of our industry. I chose to join Harvey Nash for a number of reasons, but one thing that appealed to me was our strong Nordic footprint where we can help customers who have operations in multiple or all Nordic countries. There is a lot of value to be added when working with one recruitment partner, that understands the corporate culture and overlying strategy. Another thing that spoke to me, was the long-term perspective that I feel we strongly represent here at Harvey Nash, both towards clients and candidates, but also towards us as employees. There is a strong corporate culture and a feeling of trust between one another and a positive energy. It is a blessing to be around so many competent people here, who generously share their knowledge and ideas. It’s a motivating place to be, but also a big part of my drive and enthusiasm comes from the trust our clients show us when they involve us in one of the most important challenges there is: hiring the right people to help build a team to ensure future business success.


You have been instrumental in bringing this year’s Harvey Nash HR Survey to the Nordics. What would you say the overlying trends are within HR this year?

Digital transformation, AI and Big Data are on everyone’s agenda in one way or another, and this has a huge impact on many HR processes and HR functions. A lot of the more operational task of HR is digitalized or heading in that direction. Take for instance Payroll Officers being replaced by apps and software. We have already outsourced and moved many things into the cloud and we will see even more of this going forward of course. HR executives are being squeezed from both sides, forced to consider and understand the impact of digitalization at a lower operational level as well as at a higher more strategic level. They need to predict the future and what competence will be in demand, as well as be an active change agent. It is all fine and well for a business to hire a CDO or CIO and embark on a project to redefine and digitalize their operations and business model, but this person alone can’t complete that change. All the people of the business must be involved and included in this change and HR –  operational, tactical and strategic – must take part in the overall business strategy, perhaps even help drive it.

Skilled HR executives will be crucial to the future success of businesses. Products, processes, business models can be copied, but people can’t. My view is that one of the key points for HR will be to create a space for co-creation and inclusion, but also some sort of resistance, to capture the full potential of each employee. With so much of value creation nowadays lying outside of the business itself, HR must figure out how to capture the full potential of each individual within the organisation, through employee engagement initiatives, culture, vision and so forth.

Our HR Survey is just now being launched with some great insights. One thing we see compared to last year is that HR executives more often reply that they feel HR should do more for the business. I hope it’s a result of people recognizing that whilst more and more processes can be digitalized and made more efficient, the human perspective is more important than ever. Just looking to our own operations, we are faced with the same uncertainty as most businesses – what used to be core business for us, search and mapping, will eventually be able to be automated and carried out by AI search-bots that will learn to engage with candidates in an initial dialogue. I think this is great as it will allow me to spend more of my time where I can create the most value: engaging with clients and candidates, face-to-face.


Oliver Sommer, Consultant

M: +45 53 61 61 36