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Elise Hunt enjoys a thriving career at Willis Towers Watson

Elise Hunt enjoys a thriving career at Willis Towers Watson

 October 26, 2021

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“Attracting and retaining talent is fiercely competitive in the wake of the pandemic, as individuals rethink what is right for them,” remarks Elise Hunt, Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Willis Towers Watson. “But with this comes opportunity, as what better time for organizations to rethink what they can offer to better align with new aspirations and priorities.”

From contractor to Global Head of Talent Acquisition

Elise is a highly visionary, tenacious, and dependable colleague who first joined Willis Towers Watson in 2010 as a contractor working three days per week, a year after having her first child.

The company had just completed a merger and Elise was responsible for harmonizing Human Resource (HR) policies across Europe. When her contract was about to conclude, a maternity cover opportunity arose within the HR Business Partner team and Elise was fortunate to remain with the company longer.

Elise fell pregnant unexpectedly with her second child. “We were working on a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations and the day we were due to meet with the other organization to discuss critical employment decisions, my baby decided to arrive six weeks early,” reflects Elise.

Elise kept in close contact with Willis Towers Watson during her maternity leave, before returning four days per week as a contractor on an HR Operations project.

“My career took off from there as I then became a permanent colleague and established the Willis Towers Watson Global Recruitment Operations team. This opportunity provided me with a building block to think more strategically about recruitment, build global frameworks and governance, and to look for continuous improvement opportunities,” explains Elise. “I worked on some incredible global projects, including another merger and some large system implementations.”

Now, as Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Willis Towers Watson, Elise is very inspired to further shape the future talent goals within the company.

Meeting the diverse hiring of the company

Willis Towers Watson decided to re-establish its Talent Acquisition function as a global Center of Expertise, so Elise is working to build the company's recruitment function to meet the diverse hiring needs of the organization. Alongside this, Willis Towers Watson is expanding its entry level programs, investing in more recruitment tools and technology, and redefining its operating model which includes better articulation of the hiring manager and recruiter responsibilities throughout the hiring process.

“Willis Towers Watson never stops striving to be a more inclusive employer. We acknowledge that we operate in some industries that are not as diverse as we would like, but that does not stop our ambition to diversify our workforce. In many cases, if diverse talent is not available at the senior leadership level, then we look at how we can bring diverse talent in at the entry level to train and develop our future leaders. In addition, we have a whole host of inclusion networks around the world and many incredible initiatives that those groups have pioneered. One of our most successful initiatives is a return-to-work program,” advises Elise.

Employee engagement is key

“Willis Towers Watson is incredibly supportive, caring, and respectful of its colleagues’ needs. Of course, pay and benefits are important, but wellbeing and care programs can be a major differentiator between employers, and I believe this certainly positions Willis Towers Watson as a magnet for talent,” remarks Elise.

“An organization can use all the tools in the book to position their brand with buzzwords and on-trend terminology, but to make a real difference the most successful brands are those that are described by the employees,” explains Elise.

“I think authentic stories about what it is really like to work for an organization make the most impact and resonate with prospective hires. At Willis Towers Watson, we have an incredibly flexible, supportive, and agile approach to work. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing a self-shot video by a colleague showcasing their working day and being real about how they balance their deliverables with their home life,” says Elise.

Supporting a return-to-work via flexible working

Willis Towers Watson has been a long-term advocate for flexible, agile working and many of its employees are used to flexing their working patterns pre-Covid.

“Willis Towers Watson’s flexible working culture has continued post the pandemic with various options to support working from home, hot desking in an office environment, or blend an alternative form of working,” attests Elise.

Actively supporting employee wellbeing

“What has really humbled me is the vaccination programs that Willis Towers Watson has supported and rolled out across countries that have not had access to sufficient medical care. In addition, there are dependent care programs, employee helplines and a wide variety of wellbeing resources and support on place for our employees,” explains Elise. “I believe this positions the organization as more than solely an employer, but truly demonstrates the company’s commitment to supporting and treating the individual needs of its employees.”

“Attraction and hiring are two of our key levers for change and this is where my team is able to really influence and make a difference,” suggests Elise. “For example, Willis Towers Watson provides more than just the typical maternity or parental policies. There is real support for parents, care givers, and women who return-to-work, take for example our mentor schemes and impressive return-to-work help and resources. Alongside that support, there is a strong desire from the company to ensure that women are supported in their career aspirations, regardless of their career breaks.”

“I speak from personal experience,” says Elise. “It would be very challenging to undertake the global scope of my role if I wasn’t able to flex my work around my family life and further responsibilities. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with colleagues who respect my situation, many of whom have not had young families to juggle. At the same time, I can actively support my team members. For example, one of my team is part of a ‘SHE Leads’ program that provides timely career coaching to aspiring female leaders.”

A strong and impressive focus on pay equity

As part of its practices at Willis Towers Watson, there is a consistent focus on pay equity and transparency.

Even when the UK Government suspended mandatory employer reporting on the 2019 gender pay gap due to the pandemic, Willis Towers Watson actively chose to submit their UK gender pay gap report. 

Employer policies, procedures, resources, and support are extensive at this highly progressive company.

Enjoying her well-deserved downtime

When Elise is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and taking their family dog, a very energetic Hungarian Vizsla, for long walks in the countryside. 

Cooking for friends and family is also a great passion for Elise, especially a Sunday roast.

During the pandemic, Elise discovered the Peloton exercise bike and is now truly hooked, so she tries to squeeze in a ride between her meetings.

When she gets an opportunity on the weekend, Elise enjoys going to Tottenham Hotspur matches with her husband and children.

Bring your career experience to Willis Towers Watson

Inspired by Elise’s career path within Willis Towers Watson?

Why not research the type of jobs that Willis Towers Watson recruits for and bring your skills, experience, and individuality to this leading company?


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