HR & Talent Management Conference

London - 10th March 2016 #HRGV2016


Tess Smillie, VP HR, Samsung

Tess Smillie

Tess Smillie


As VP of HR for Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, my role is to build and drive our People Strategy in partnership with the Business Leadership Team.

I developed my experience over many years, within the Tech industry, including Microsoft, Blackberry and now Samsung. Always operating in fast-paced, evolving and highly changeable environments; dealing with high growth, realignment and sometimes contracting businesses but always highly competitive for talent.

I’ve been lucky to work both domestically and internationally; leading teams in Latam, US, Canada, EMEA & APAC, including living in India when it was becoming a high tech talent hub. This provided me a great opportunity to learn about the value of differing cultures and the true potential of diversity.

My experiences have led me to develop a pragmatic approach to HR and a belief that business strategy and people strategy have to be created in unison. And, increasingly, that a pick ‘n’ mix based HR approach is required to meet the complexity of business today.

I’m passionate about what HR can achieve when working closely with the business and excited to be in a profession that still has so much scope for growth.

Work aside, I treasure my holidays and travel, especially combining it with my other passion, motorcycling. Any other time out tends to involve food, fitness and friends (ok, and possibly shopping).

An Interview with Tess Smillie

HR professionals must be an essential component of the business in order to succeed, according to Tess Smillie, Vice President HR, Samsung UK & Ireland.

Speaking to HR Grapevine, Tess Smillie says: "You cannot do your job in HR unless you are a fundamental part of the fabric of the business. The result will be better decisions.”

She believes that when this is the case "you know the projects you've got to focus on, where you have to drive change and how to drive that change. Furthermore, you are never going to then implement anything that jars with the organisation.

"Some work tend to be seen as an ‘HR initiative’, versus having real impact, if it is not right for the business temperature at the time, and I think you only understand that by being a member of the leadership team, being that trusted advisor and just being incredibly close to the business."

Smillie, who will be speaking at HR Grapevine's annual HR & Talent Management Conference this year, comments: "I know it's always harder to do this in practice, than it is to say, however when it works you can see the difference and how that alignment changes the way to do business. Those HR professionals are just standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the CEO."

Speaking from her own experience, she feels this can be achieved by embracing the exposure and learning opportunities that can come with truly challenging projects. She says when they are offered "grab hold of those projects with both hands and don't be afraid to dive in."

 - Session 2: Digital, Design or data?