106 Communications

6th Sense

106 seconds with… Jason Rowlands, Global HRD at Sonnedix.

November 2014 | 106 seconds, Culture, Employer Brand, Engineering

Jason has built an HR career working for some well-known businesses including BAE Systems, Barclays, Bank of America and most recently, RBS. But he’s been lured away from the world of established corporates into Sonnedix, a founder-led, fast-growing business producing low carbon energy. Here we ask Jason how he has found that transition, and explore some of the main differences between old and new. 

What attracted you to Sonnedix?

The opportunity! I wanted the challenge of helping to grow a global organisation in an emerging sector.

What are the big differences for you between a start-up business and a big corporation like RBS?

Commerciality, variety and pace.  In large organisations, process often becomes more important than the outputs, but there is no room for that in a start-up.  The environment is more entrepreneurial and with that comes the need to think and act fast and make a positive impact.

What’s it like working for a business where the leadership team is made up of the original founders?

Fun and challenging!  Working closely with the people that had the vision and drive to create the organisation is a great opportunity – but their passion for what they’ve built and want to build means there’s much more emotional commitment to take into account.  Cultural vision is the key – you really need to understand what they’re trying to build and make sure that what you do is going to support and grow this.

Sonnedix is global. How does this impact on your role as HRD? What are some of the key challenges you face?

The geographical spread (from Chile on the West to Japan on the East) of relatively small teams is quite a challenge, if for no other reason than the ability for my body to keep up with the time zone I find myself in!  Creating a connected organisation, where those small teams feel they are part of something bigger is also a particular challenge.  Culture change, leadership development, and defining and implementing a scalable operating model to support our rapid growth are the things that keep me busy and awake at night (as well as jetlag!).

What’s been the highlight of your time in the business so far?

Working with the founders who genuinely believe in, and understand the impact of HR.

You’ve done a lot of travelling already; where have you had your best meal?

Japanese is my favourite cuisine, so it would have to be one of the many fantastic tepanyaki restaurants in Tokyo.

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