We catch up with Navico’s new EMEA HR Director, Laura Toscano, about her time at Moog, dealing with COVID-19 as an HR practitioner, and her time at Navico so far.

It’s early days, but what are your immediate priorities and areas of focus at Navico?

There is a lot going on and I’m straight into working on some ongoing projects for EMEA.

Looking at the next few months, I want to understand the business priorities and how I can add value. My initial thoughts are to look at how we equip our Leaders and Line Managers to support their teams, and how we help Navico people with their career aspirations, whilst ensuring we secure a good pipeline of talent in critical roles. For me, this is a priority because Navico people are the key to the success of the business.

Do you think that the pandemic has changed some of the rules in HR and how companies should look out for their employees?

In my previous role at Moog, I had a significant population of employees in Asia and specifically China. Therefore I have been aware of (and working through) the impacts of the pandemic since early January. I also had a big team in Northern Italy (including a facility in Bergamo where the European outbreak started.)

There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the focus of attention for HR people everywhere through 2020. For me, it’s been about firstly protecting the wellbeing of employees and making sure everyone is safe. Next, it’s looking at the financial wellbeing of the company to protect that for the future of the people and stakeholders.

Living alongside COVID-19 effectively is all about providing the right support for employees as we all get used to working in a different way. My focus here is how our Leaders and People Managers interact with our employees. Great leadership is even more important at times like this!

Do you have any tips for people that might be getting tired with working from home?

Working from home is certainly possible, but I do miss the human interaction. I have found the last several months hard and I’ve had to adapt my routines. For instance, when the gym was closed for months I joined online classes via Instagram at 7am each morning from my living room.  I find getting outdoors and walking around the local park helpful even if it’s just 5-10 minutes between calls.​​​​​​​

What’s good is that businesses have become much more open to working flexibly, and reviewing the output or delivery of work is the most important thing. Leaders and Line Managers are encouraged to listen to how their teams feel, what works for each person and where possible try to make that work so that we maximise our effectiveness.

What energises you outside of work?

I love being outdoors, walking, running, having coffee, spending time with friends and family, good food, wine and I like a chat! I am lucky to have had the opportunity to travel extensively in the last few years which I love to do. Exploring a new city is exciting.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a ballerina but that quickly got squashed, when aged 7, my ballet teacher told me I was going to be too tall (I am 5’8’ which apparently is no good for ballet). My next aspiration was to have a Law career but having done some work experience during my high school years I decided it wasn’t for me.

I landed on HR because I love people and I find people fascinating. The dynamic of people at work, the way people work in teams, the challenges we all have when we come up against someone who is very different to ourselves, working across cultures globally – it’s so interesting.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

The most important thing is to have fun. Or at least to enjoy what you do, always. I try to make sure I squeeze some fun into my work as often as possible. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

What is your motto or personal mantra?

“If I can then I should.”  What I mean is, if I am capable of more and have the opportunity then I should do more. That’s how I think about my career. I enjoy feeling challenged and pushing myself to recognise my full potential. I think Navico will fit me well.

If you could take a boat anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Hawaii. I was due to be on holiday there three years ago but the night before our flight our house was broken into and we had to go home to sort everything out. I would still love to visit, to see the Volcanoes on Big Island, the waterfalls on Maui, and I had booked some great hotels..!