Governing Body Spotlight

Co-Chair of the UK & Ireland CHRO Community

Rob Willis



Robert Willis is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Perrigo, a $5.2 billion, 9,500 employee global organisation that is a leading provider of Consumer Self-Care Products and over the counter (OTC) health and wellness solutions. Rob is also a Co-Chair of the Evanta UK and Ireland CHRO community.

Learn more about the UK & Ireland CHRO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

I’ve been in Human Resources roles for 30 years in multiple industries—education, information technology, banking, retail, consulting, and CPG. I started as an HR Generalist in Dublin, but my journey has spanned the globe including the United States, UK, Middle East and back home  now in Ireland.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

A sharp vision and strategy are paramount to delivering long-term value. I also believe in setting the right tone at the top. Engage people, listen, create a trust-based environment, make things clear, take feedback and have fun. I find this approach always leads to better business results.

With disruption being a key theme of recent years, where do you see the CHRO role going in the next 1-2 years?

Never have CHROs had to handle so much change so quickly. Competition for talent, virtualization of work, social, political and economic fluctuation has forced all of us to pivot quickly. It’s clear that things will never be the same.

I also think one the greatest disruptors to the CHRO role are technologies like digitization, AI and machine learning. While the CHRO role doesn’t need to be filled with a ‘techie,’ we do need to understand how HR fits into the era of digital transformation. This is something I believe is necessary which I am enjoying implementing at Perrigo. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a CHRO?

My key advice is to ensure you have a clear People strategy that links directly to where the business is going. Think dynamically as the business evolves and gain the support needed from the CEO and Board of Directors and don’t forget to keep the organisation up to date with the progress you are making. Keep thinking ahead of today and ensure the company has the best HR team in place to go deliver the strategy. Finally, never forget why you are doing this job, remain true to your values and always stay grounded and connected with employees.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. My wonderful family and I have lived in different parts of the world and have experienced many different cultures. I consider myself lucky to be in my chosen profession which has facilitated these experiences. 
  2. I love playing the drums (badly)… maybe someday I will get it right! 
  3. I still dream of making a hole in one in golf and getting a 147 break in Snooker.

What is the value of joining an Evanta community? 

Since I joined the Evanta community, I have participated in many forums and discussions that have stretched and influenced my thinking. With the rate of change and disruption in the global workplace, it is great to have a network and community to turn to for ideas and solutions. I’ve found immense value in hearing how my colleagues are tackling these challenges— in new and diverse ways. As a Co-Chair for the CHRO community, the Evanta team does a great job engaging with me to build purposeful agendas keeping us all engaged and connected. 

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

by CHROs, for CHROs

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