Breaking barriers and fostering inclusivity for success

Rick Hammel, CEO of Atlas, is recognised for his leadership in driving innovation, fostering inclusivity, and facilitating global talent connections.
By: | August 25, 2023

Rick Hammel (right), CEO and Founder, Atlas, clinches the Best C-Suite Leader award, sponsored by Sanderson-Ikas.

In the ever-evolving world of HR, leaders who drive innovation, foster inclusivity, and empower organisations to thrive are poised to be the true catalysts of success. Rick Hammel, CEO of Atlas, exemplifies such leadership and was recognised with the Best C-Suite Leader award, sponsored by Sanderson-Ikas, at HR Fest Awards 2023. Under Hammel’s guidance, Atlas has revolutionised the way organisations connect with talent across borders, breaking down barriers and facilitating growth opportunities.

In an interview with HRM Magazine Asia, Hammel shared his thoughts on the recognition and shed light on his leadership philosophy, strategic vision, and commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“It’s truly humbling to receive this award. It serves as a testament to the impact we’ve made in our industry, creating opportunities for organisations and talent to connect globally,” Hammel said, while expressing his excitement at hearing clients and prospects acknowledge that Atlas’ services have enabled their organisations to expand and market globally, regardless of their size or available resources.

Hammel’s leadership approach reflects the changing dynamics of the modern workforce. Successful leaders today, he emphasised, are those who actively engage with their teams, work alongside them, and lead by example. “Leaders these days must be able to be seen as part of the team, not separate. Leaders are not meant to dictate and solely benefit themselves. It is crucial for us to roll up our sleeves together, support our teams, lead by example, and never assign tasks to our team members that we wouldn’t be willing to undertake ourselves.”

This mindset is further reinforced by Hammel’s open-door policy, as he participates in calls and supports his team whenever needed. By fostering a collaborative environment, Hammel ensures that individuals have opportunities for growth and can unleash their true potential.

As an HR expert himself, Hammel acknowledged the pivotal role HR plays in shaping an organisation’s strategy, and said, “HR is fundamentally one of the most important pillars of an organisation.” By integrating the voices of both clients and employees, Atlas maintains a “glocal” approach that combines global insights with local expertise. He further revealed that Atlas holds internal conversations with executives and leadership teams, combined with employee feedback, to drive the organisation’s strategic direction while aligning with its core values of helping people.

Navigating the delicate balance between leading an organisation and addressing the needs of the HR function and the broader workforce can pose challenges, but Hammel believes in the significance of including HR leaders in decision-making processes and recognising their invaluable role in shaping the organisation’s direction. He shared the example of Lulu Rufael, CHRO of Atlas, who reports directly to him and possesses an equal voice in every executive meeting. This, he added, ensures that HR’s role in fostering a positive organisational culture and championing the needs of employees remains central to the organisation’s overall strategy.

One of the key HR initiatives implemented at Atlas is a focus on diversity and inclusion. Hammel highlighted the importance of broadening the perspective of diversity beyond traditional definitions, and said, “Diversity is defined not just by what you’ve seen online but by the cultural nuances of where you have people.”

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To eliminate bias, Atlas actively re-evaluates its approach to diversity and inclusion by striving for a more comprehensive understanding of diversity across its global team. This self-reflection led to the adoption of practices that embrace local cultures and ensure equal opportunities for all.

Acknowledging the historical gender inequalities in the Asia-Pacific region, Hammel shared that Atlas actively promotes gender equality and seeks to hire diverse talent, going beyond gender binaries. He emphasised Atlas’ commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive organisational environment through cultural exchange between Asia-Pacific and other regions, and concluded, “Our goal is to continually break down barriers and foster a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our organisation.”