Nestlé appoints Tania Hector as corporate head of learning and development

Tania shares her mission to stimulate a passion for learning at Nestlé.

Tania Hector has been appointed as Nestlé Corporate Head of Learning and Development (L&D), effective February 2021. She will be based at the global headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. 

A creative problem-solver and decision-maker with strong communication, coaching, negotiation and problem-solving skills, Tania has successfully managed various turnarounds within a variety of HR departments in various locations.

She joined Nestlé in 2006 as an employee wellness manager and has fulfilled a variety of roles within the HR function, including talent acquisition, talent management and learning and development. She was at Nestlé Malaysia for two years before relocating to the UK in early 2016 to become the head of talent, engagement and leadership development at Nestlé UK and Ireland.

Most recently, she was Nestlé’s HR director for the east and southern africa region (ESAR), a position responsible for strategic and operational execution of human resources in 23 countries.

Tania says what appeals to her most about the current role is being able to influence others and drive a mindset shift. “I am excited by the prospect of cracking the biggest challenge in L&D, which is a hunger for learning.  L&D is often made so complicated that we end up with little enthusiasm from those who need it. I want to create an attitude of curiosity for 300,000 of our people and make it easy for them to learn what they need to learn, when they need to learn it.”

Her mission is to create an appetite at Nestlé for employees to consume that education, which she describes as, “A mindset shift of learning, every moment of everyday.”

She says that the future is about embracing technology and maximising the capabilities of innovations such as machine learning and AI. “Up to now, we have been very dependent on needs assessments and manual engagements with people; asking employees what they need and using that as the basis for our next steps. In its evolved form, AI can predict what opportunities lie ahead in the company or the broader market and give intelligence on what an employee needs to learn to be equipped for that future opportunity.”

Tania’s passion for her work is palpable and in addition to that enthusiasm, she brings to the role an ability to think laterally and strategically. Tania holds master’s degrees in both clinical social work and labour law/HR, as well as a post-graduate diploma in marriage and family counselling. She considers it an advantage that her roots aren’t in L&D, which allows her to step back and see the bigger picture in her new role. “What the job needs is a business head that can achieve a shift to where people develop an appetite for learning,” she says.

She wants to turn the myth that the organisation is responsible for teaching people on its head. “The truth is that as an individual you must want to learn first. The job of the company or whoever you’re in the ecosystem with, is to then help you to achieve that in the easiest, simplest fashion.”

Reflecting on the changes of the last year she says, “Covid-19 forced us into the virtual world. Now people are more comfortable in that space and since a lot of learning will be consumed on those platforms in the future, we are poised for a great acceleration.” She points out that as tools like VR are deployed in the field, they will be more accessible and offer richer, more but also immersive experiences through which to upskill.

“In a business such as ours, where you have people who work on the front line, in environments such as factories, virtual learning is ideal because they don’t have to commit an entire day to learning but can learn in chunks whenever they have time.”

Her new appointment is something she celebrates personally but has been delighted to discover an unexpected benefit. “All the congratulatory messages I have received have made me realise that this step in my journey is an opportunity to hold the South African flag high. I come from a small town and I hope that those with aspirations for a meaningful career can look at me and see that humble beginnings don’t mean you have to dim your dreams.”