Ross Pickford is in the business of helping people be the best version of themselves


Software engineer turned CHRO Global Kinetic’s Ross Pickford speaks about his passion for people.

A marketing and software engineer graduate, Ross Pickford’s background isn’t that of a typical human resources exec. Ross is the head of people at software engineering business Global Kinetic.

He was never set on being in the human resources field, he says: “I originally studied marketing before one of my first bosses encouraged me to venture into the programming sphere. I proceeded to put myself through night classes at Varsity College, studying visual basic programming.

“On completion, a friend introduced me to a guy who was looking to train up junior developers. Long story short, I ended up being placed at Old Mutual Bank in 1999, where I spent my formative years learning enterprise development and architecture, as well as coding in Java and proprietary banking software. It was during my time at Old Mutual that I met the now CEO of Global Kinetic.”

He says his entry into HR was purely organic. As part of the collective of software engineers that started Global Kinetic, he was tasked with running the payroll part of the business, and then some office management pieces. “Then came employment contracts and contacts in that field. As we grew in number, so did the need to start career planning for our people, as well as build structures and policies. In step with how things matured, so did we, and our ways of working.”

People-centric approach

As he found his feet in the role, Ross quickly realised that he had an affinity for helping people be the best version of themselves. “I actually don’t like the word ‘resources’ in the given name of this profession, as it makes it too easy to ignore that there is a person involved: a person whose life and family are affected by every decision we make as a business, and as such we don’t take this responsibility lightly. My goal is to always put the people first and work outwards from there.”

He concedes that it is not always possible to get everything right, as some individuals aren’t able to help themselves succeed in their environment. “But even in those circumstances, we try to do our best to resolve challenges in everyone’s best interest. We succeed at what we do because of the people that work with us. It is that simple.”

One thing he is steadfast about is continually evolving the organisation’s processes and ways of working to get the best out of everyone. “This usually includes updating and evolving training and development plans, career progression processes, adding roles and competency areas as we grow to have new and interesting places for people to work toward.

“We get a lot of feedback from our people and try to take it all on board to keep growing. We have tools to enable everyone to take continuous improvement into their work and their personal development. It starts with each person – their skill, their personality, their dreams. If we can align our purpose as a business to those of our human collective, we have the dream team!”

Ross adds that as much as he believes in developing others, he also believes in self-development. Lately he has taken up running, not just as a hobby but also as a means to balance his work and life. “A latecomer to the enjoyment of any sport, the last eight or nine years of running have had me become more and more active and I cannot stress enough how this balances the rigours of working, parenting, and life in general. I’m no triathlete, but it’s an integral part of my life now.”

Ross’ love for people doesn’t only dominate his work life, but is also present in his personal life. He quotes Anne Frank: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

“I want to be remembered as a trusted friend who made you smile,” he concludes.


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