Stuart Hockridge, Senior Vice President Global Human Resources, joined Align Technology in May 2016 and shares his experience with the people and environment of Align today.  

What is your HR philosophy?  

I truly believe people can be great at what they do. Our role as HR is to create an environment that allows people to be as great as they want to be. If we do this successfully, then the business will achieve what they want to achieve from a strategic and performance perspective.    

How do you create such environment?  

There are a few key elements   

1. Start with hiring and onboarding effectively. That’s especially true in our business which is focused on growth.

2. Understand the capabilities you need at all times in order to be successful in the market.

3. Ensure you have the right leaders and managers by focusing on great hiring and great development…when businesses change and when the external market changes then the capabilities that the leaders and managers need will also change.  

4. Finally, have a keen focus on organization design. Always look for ways in which work can flow more seamlessly and where things can be simplified and focused.  

Everyone in Human Resources, no matter what they do, is involved and instrumental in one or more of these components. It’s impossible to optimize the environment when one of these pieces is missing.    

What does this mean for an employee or a candidate?  

It depends on what motivates them and in what stage of life they are. In my opinion, there are a few key things that make us unique in the medical device industry. To begin with, we are growing extensively in all areas – and that will be new for many employees who join our business. Given our rate of growth, new experiences are being constantly created. It would be difficult to find another company that gives you the opportunity to experience that in the way that Align does. 

In addition, in a sense every job grows with the company. As long as you perform well in your current position and engage with your manager on what you would like to achieve, there will likely be opportunities for you. If you are interested in learning new things and getting new experiences and you take the time to invest in that discussion and dialogue with your manager, then you are likely going to be able to do those things.    

How would you describe Align’s culture?  

There are a couple of things that make Align what it is today. It is a welcoming company. People are genuinely nice. They are passionate about the product and services that we provide because they know it makes a different in people’s lives. With that comes an overall family feel about the business. There is genuine recognition of the idea that we are all in this together and we want to win together. It’s been a legacy, this environment in Align, that I think will continue as the company grows.  

Every company envisions a certain culture that you need to have in order to be and remain successful. In our culture this means you are agile, quick to respond, quick thinkers, focused on customer, and accountable for very high standards in performance. I think we’re in a very good place regarding the culture that we need to have and sustain.    

What recommendations would you have for ambitious individuals who would like to develop themselves in a fast and dynamic environment like Align? 

It’s important to sustain a high level of performance and contribution within your existing job. Besides this I’d emphasize the importance of networking. Make sure you are known by key stakeholders as someone that is good at their job, has a good attitude and is good to work with. What will happen is that managers will think of you when they look for a team member. This doesn’t mean that you will get the job right away, because of course there are internal processes, but it does put you at an advantage. No doubt about it. 

There is also a group of people who are happy to do their job and are less interested in hierarchical promotions. Even in this scenario, you’ve always got to consider what more can you do next year than the year before. If you hold true to the principle that the contributions of all individuals in the company, comprise the overall company performance, we all have to ask ourselves: What can I do to be more effective? How do I do to continue to grow? If you don’t keep growing then the company may grow past you and that’s not in anyone’s best interest.

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