Five minute interview: taking on my new role as Global Head of Compliance at K2
Linda Barnes has worked at K2 since 2013 in HR and compliance roles. In recognition of her work to continue to build a strong culture and adherence to key compliance, risk and regulation considerations for the UK and European offices, she has recently been promoted to oversee all K2 global compliance.
We talked to her about her new role, what it entails and what plans she has.
Position: Global Head of Compliance
Responsibilities: oversight and implementation of risk and compliance frameworks, policies, procedures and training, monitoring of changes in law and regulations with regards to compliance and risk, providing expert information to the board and clients in RFPs, maintaining ISO accreditation and managing audits globally.
Why K2? What attracted you?
I really like the entrepreneurial feel of the business. It’s a real people place. The hierarchy is relatively flat, I am empowered to do my role and the culture is open and supportive which I really like, having worked in large organisations previously. I love the family feel of K2, there’s a lot of support and camaraderie. K2 has been so incredibly supportive and encouraging of my career development and invested heavily in my specialised professional training.
How did you end up in compliance?
I first started at K2 as an office manager but then went on to become a CIPD qualified HR manager. As K2 was growing and developing strategically, I took up the opportunity to undertake GDPR training and developed my expertise further so that I could lead on devising and implementing our compliance and risk framework of policies and procedures, including our three ISO accreditations.
What led you to this role?
I like learning new skills and have always been good at planning. I think my openness to taking on new specialisms and interest in developing well-structured programmes of work for the benefit of the company and our clients is what led me to compliance. I enjoy the challenge of the work because it is rooted in rules and processes whilst ensuring it is tailored to fit our key objectives and the needs of our clients, without losing sight of the human impact.
What’s your vision for compliance in K2?
For compliance and risk to remain at the heart of everything we do and to use it to add value and mitigate unnecessary risk on behalf of clients.
What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
Working with my colleagues internationally to ensure compliance is part of the culture of the way we do things in K2. I am putting plans in place to further develop our risk and compliance frameworks and will be running training programmes to build colleagues’ awareness and understanding to ensure we maintain consistent high standard ownership and implementation across the organisation. I encourage colleagues to challenge the way we do things to help drive innovation and improvements – just because it has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean that is how it should be done.
What advice would you give to others considering a career in compliance?
My route into compliance and risk is probably not the traditional one. I originally worked in project management and training in the retail sector and then moved into HR, but the common thread to my career development has been my determination to retrain and learn. I always ensure I keep up to date with the latest specialist information so that I can undertake my responsibilities as professionally and effectively as possible. I have challenged myself constantly. I am first and foremost a people person, but I have also come to see the importance of well devised and implemented policies and processes to underpin everything you do – we’re all data subjects and we all need to care about privacy, our rights and ensuring accountability. Businesses need to ensure they constantly review practices, be prepared to conduct investigations and Identify potential risks. Maintaining regulatory knowledge and reviewing and updating internal policies at least annually is fundamental, and although preparing and filing required documents is key, the most important element is educating and empowering your employees.