Fixer: Will a dual role ruin my HR prospects?

24 May 2018 By PM Editorial

Could taking on a marketing role be a help or a hindrance? 

I work in a retail business as the head of HR, with an HR administrator reporting into me. Since the marketing manager left, our CEO has had the idea of me taking on marketing. I know very little about this area but I realise money is tight and it would be unwise to say no. Is it a sensible career move if I really immerse myself in it or am I moving too far from where I really want to be (which is HR)

I am a fan of HR professionals gaining experience outside the function. Too many people are focused on a linear career path that takes them to business partner, senior business partner and upwards from there. In fact, a bit of a detour is no bad thing – and you have an opportunity that represents a big investment in you from your CEO, even if it has been prompted by cost-cutting.

Taking on marketing will enable you to get to know the business in a different way. You’ll be heavily focused on commercial results, and you’ll become more comfortable with customer-focused analytics – a useful string to your bow when we hear marketing and HR departments are converging around the use of data.

The workload will be tough, and you’ll need to become more efficient at delegating, but the end result is that you will be more marketable as an individual. Some of the best HR professionals I have worked with have spent time outside the function before coming back. 

There may be some who say you’ve gained less HR experience as a result of your dual role, but most people will see it as a positive. Careers are rarely linear nowadays, so seize the moment.

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