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Paul Marshall

Paul Marshall: Exemplar of Resolute Leadership

The advancement of technology and the improvement of systems has changed the way businesses virtually operate. These advancements also prompted changes in management style and requirements, particularly for an HR leader.

However, Successful HR managers understand and embrace their role as the conscience of their organizations. HR professionals are entrusted with many different types of confidential information, and nothing less than the absolute security and protection of that information from unauthorized disclosure is acceptable. HR professionals must exhibit complete honesty and discretion when working with every member of their organization.

HR professionals could potentially be managing employees across the globe, performing many different activities or projects throughout the day, and communicating with employees at all levels of the company.

They must know how to bridge gaps in communication and seamlessly transition from task to task while running things efficiently. Standing out with the significant attributes with a transformative approach is Paul Marshall, Group HR Manager at Howard Porter.

In an interview with Insights Success, Paul shares significant facts highlighting his professional tenure and his journey so far in the dynamic business arena.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Paul, please briefly describe your professional journey up until now. What challenges did you face along the way?

My earlier days were spent in several different roles that included manual work, sales and small business. I later enrolled as a mature-age student in TAFE and enjoyed it enough to complete 3 diplomas and some other accreditations and then later enrolled at university.

I initially enrolled in Accounting and Business Law but in the second year was drawn to Human Resources and Industrial Relations and completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Human Resources Management and Industrial Relations. After that, I was working for a State Government department (Labour Relations) and then I stepped into private enterprise.

The main challenge I faced was deciding to either position myself as a “generalist” or a “specialist.” As I continued in this industry area, I always found I was being exposed to a wide range of tasks, including some tasks that wouldn’t be classified as Human Resources Management.

More recently and considering myself these days almost a polymath or multipotentiality, the thought of specialising in a small specific area in an occupation that encompasses so much was a bit limiting to me.

I found the generalist thing much more attractive whilst maintaining a strong and current employment law skill – very much needed in HR and people tasks.

What significant impact have you brought to the HR industry?

I have authored two books on Business and People Management, and I share many of my past real-world learnings and experience. If you like what you read in this article, then chances are you’re going to love these books.

Like a good baking mix ready to go into the oven, featured in these books are well-researched and tested recipes and ingredients and I have prepared them ready to be poured into the reader’s minds.

The oven is the workplace, so as you read just keep turning up to work and eventually these ideas will be baked into your mind and your knowledge of these tested tips will be getting the attention of surrounding people as a freshly baked cake removed from the oven is sure to get the attention of your guests at the dinner party.

Golden Tips to Turbo Charge Your Business, Make More Money and Get Rich

Golden Tips to Turbo Charge Your Employees, Skyrocket Productivity and Get More Output

These books can be purchased from or any good online bookstore.

Tell us about Howard Porter and its foundation pillar.

Howard Porter is an industry leader, well-established and still a family-owned company that designs and builds quality transport equipment for the mining, resources, and general transport industries.

If I had to select just one pillar, it would have to be financial growth and stability. Growth and stability require focus and definition. Innovation and efficiencies are always welcome but as a Company grows bigger, then acquisitions become an attractive strategy to add financial growth fast and enhance stability.

In 2015 Howard Porter acquired Steelbro, which is a 140-year-old New Zealand coach-building business that had a rich history and is well known for its worldwide product the “sideloader” – a transport solution featuring two onboard cranes.

I was group HR Manager at Howard Porter at the time Steelbro was acquired. Steelbro did not have any dedicated HR presence, so I accepted that it was going to be me that would strongly contribute HR services to this acquisition project and with the aim to make the Steelbro business profitable again (a new priority) as well as providing services to the other group businesses.

I worked closely with the Business Director (Owner) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to review, restructure and develop the newly acquired business. We also worked with the General Manager of Steelbro. At the time of acquiring Steelbro, the business cashflow had stopped and the business was running with a $300,000 per month loss.

The business acquisition was attractive as the product complimented Howard Porters’ product lines and Howard Porter had the plant, equipment, and people to make this product faster, better and push it out through some already established sales channels.

Scaling a disorganized business doesn’t work well but in 2018 a Net Profit of over 1 million was achieved from the newly acquired business proving we were a somewhat organised business. Today it’s hitting well above this and has been another winning move in the quest to continuously deliver financial growth and stability.

Other key deliverables in this acquisition from the HR desk included:

  • Regarding budgetary expenditure, we undertook the acquisition and new business development processes within the normal operating budget of the HR department by successfully securing Federal Government (Growth Grant) funding.
  • Successfully right-sized business and saving around $736,880 per annum by reducing the sales department in the acquired business and whilst retaining top talent and thereafter increasing sales volumes.
  • Avoided industrial disputation with unions or courts during the acquisition and business development process which included redundancies, communication improvement strategies and performance management enhancements.
  • Accessed and partnered with an external qualified and experienced business consultant to formulate a well-researched and comprehensive strategic Business and Aggressive Growth Plan (Business Evaluation Report) for no cost.
  • Secured $20,000 Government grant to assist with securing a new Business Development Manager and setting up an additional sales office and presence in Brazil.
  • Saved around $100,000 on international talent search fees by in-house search, recruitment, selecting, and onboarding key Business Development and Sales Managers for Brazil and Europe (Sweden) and on the east coast of Australia resulting in an increase of international distributorships, sales and market share in Brazil, Europe and Australia.
  • Implementing a fair, equitable and results-driven remuneration system for sales staff whilst also maintaining an ethical sales and business process.
  • Collaborating with the production manager and achieving ISO 9001:2015 Certification for 2 Australian Entities. This certified Quality Management System (QMS) drove and achieved a significant improvement in the quality of product, traceability, and production systems. It also acted as a sound communication and integration catalyst during the acquisition process and enhanced efficiency, collaboration and synergy between the old and new entities.
  • Introduced and drove a new system to capture and record production conformances and warranty claims ensuring all non-conformity information is captured, stored and reviewed to eliminate future reoccurrences. This included improving, formulating, capturing and now evaluating key performance areas in Production and/or targets with a visual and systematic process.

By executing the above and other acquisition strategies and by utilising existing production resources to increase profit margin per unit by 12-15% the acquisition was an attractive solution to improve the financial growth and stability pillar of the business.

The great work done by the owners and CFO whilst holding the BIG picture focus and with other business Managers executing some other effective growth strategies and the staff and people contribution, the Steelbro business is now truly an international company.

A business that seems to be forever improving brand recognition, extensively growing a network of worldwide distributors and agents all whilst being driven by an aggressive National and International marketing and growth strategy.

How does Howard Porter promote workforce flexibility, and what is your role in it?

Because we are operating in Western Australia and mining projects in the region are currently rapidly increasing due to high commodities prices finding people has been a big challenge.

With a full sales book and lots of overtime available it’s been a challenge for the Company to be super flexible but in saying that- its only day shifts that are performed and for no longer than 10 hours per day.

Therefore, employees can get some good time with family and friends and pursue other out-of-work commitments. It’s beneficial for the workforce to pursue other out-of-work activities as we have found that this greatly assists in keeping people balanced and for the business – keeping people for the long haul.

What is your take on technology’s importance, and how are you leveraging it?

If technology offers an opportunity to save time or dollars, then it’s a great thing. It’s when it creates more work, consumes more time and offers little return on investment – then it may not be attractive. I am always a pessimist about technology.

I have seen businesses install expensive systems only to pull the pin on them months later wasting valuable dollars. But if you can show me the savings in time or money, then I am all ears. Being able to recruit worldwide using just the Internet or being able to save time with onboarding tools have been of benefit for us but knowing people on a face-to-face basis has always been good for business and still is.

What will be the next significant change in the human resources industry, and how are you preparing for it?

There have been some great technological advancements in HR systems, but not all have been successful. HR onboarding systems such as Zenefits, Gusto or BambooHR seem to be leading the way. More recently, and as the AI space seems to be ramping up and we begin to assess systems such as XOPA AI to determine whether these systems can offer a real advantage.

Each business is different and with differing values, priorities, and approaches. If an HRMIS or integrated onboarding system is being considered, then the Company must do some serious research and analysis before selecting. Factoring in the implementation and buy-in of the people will be key also.

Currently, we are seeing many Australian businesses being prosecuted for huge underpayments of wages. Although technology offers potential efficiency improvements once implemented, it’s likely that it still must be managed correctly especially when it comes to payroll.

I do find it amusing when Companies talk about how great their culture is, and the very same Companies are in the media channels for short-changing their staff wages by millions of dollars. HR 101: get the pay right before you start spruiking about how amazing your Company culture is.

What are your goals in the upcoming future?

Assisting younger people to navigate the new world. It’s a very quickly changing world at the moment and has seen and experienced many past ventures that always provide a depth of knowledge that can be shared.

What advice would you like to give the next generation of aspiring business leaders?

Don’t underestimate face-to-face communication as being effective in building trust with another person or decision-maker. Sure, there may be times when online communication is needed but try and convince a person to part with $20,000 or more online. Not an easy thing to do unless the person or party with dollars can verify the business history and/or the person on the other end of the online communication medium.

In-person, human interaction offers great returns. One can communicate directly to another person on one’s own terms and with an added in-person emotional experience and without traceability.

Or one can choose to communicate with another person through a platform on the platform’s terms, with very little emotional experience and with the communication being recorded and stored (for training purposes of course). Both have their place in business, but Bruce Springsteen offers some great advice on this: “Ain’t no kindness in the face of strangers – Ain’t gonna find no miracles here.