Featured Expert

Jabbar Sardar

Director of HR and Organisational Development

Jabbar joined Cafcass in October 2006 as the Head of Human Resources responsible for the HR and Health & Wellbeing functions. In October 2009, Jabbar became the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.

Prior to joining Cafcass, Jabbar worked as a Senior HR Manager with Education Leeds where he was responsible for delivering a HR service to 300 schools, 18,000 school-based staff and managing a team of HR professionals.

Prior to leaving Education Leeds, he was the interim Head of Human Resources responsible for a budget of over £10 million and a staffing compliment of 100 staff. Jabbar has also worked as a HR professional with Leeds City Council and the University of Bradford. Jabbar has a BA (Hons) and an MBA from the University of Bradford and CIPD from the Unviersity of Huddersfield.


Ques. What according to you are the key challenges of talent management in a social work organization like Cafcass?

Ans. The key priorities for us are:

  • Having a career pathway and reward for high performers across the organisation through a fast-track development programme. This ensures that we develop our own talent continually
  • Good quality training, development and support which underpins the career development and aspirations of all our staff
  • Innovating, embracing e-learning technology and moving away from traditional training and development approach – given our national scope conventional training is not practicable.

Ques. You are known for both setting and achieving benchmarks in your organization. Interesting as it sounds, it must be quite taxing to follow this ‘Practise what you preach’ ideology. What keeps you driving?

Ans. The aim to always provide the best possible service to the 150,000 children we serve. The key for me is to continually scan the horizon both internally and externally to ensure that we have the cutting edge people strategies which maximises frontline service delivery.

This means having clarity of leadership and purpose in line with corporate and business priorities and ensuring HR staff have outstanding business partnering skills to work alongside managers to deliver the wider transformation agenda and developing innovating workforce solutions.

Therefore, the key HR metrics around training, development, staff engagement, health and wellbeing and productivity are all key drivers and the focus of everything my team and I do on a day to day basis.

Ques. Can you please share your insight on the HR business partner model? How is it different and advantageous over the other HR models?

Ans. There are four key elements for us within Cafcass:

  • Strong strategic alignment so being fully aware of the key corporate priorities
  • HR acts as a driver to support front line practice and safeguarding children
  • Acts as real critical friend and improvement partner working alongside managers
  • Ensure positive engagement with all stakeholders

Ques. In Human Resource management, often the intangible aspects weigh over the tangibles. One such intangible area is ‘employee engagement’. Can you please share your views on how important or effective it is in promoting a positive work environment?

Ans. Employee engagement agenda is crucial to all modern organisations. Working in partnership with staff is critical in achieving high levels of engagement, commitment and improving the psychological contract between the employee and employer. Some key benefits of good engagement include:

  • Promotes positive discretionary behaviour
  • Has received lots of emphasis within Cafcass – has helped the culture to evolve and develop
  • Allows staff to be honest and play a critical part of business planning
  • Vital during periods of intensive and challenging change
  • Engagement as a continuous process across the whole employee life cycle
  • Achieves higher levels of motivation and thus increases productivity, creativity and efficiency.

Ques. You have long been associated with the education sector as part of your tenures with Education Leeds & University of Bradford. What would you say is the best thing about people management in this sector?


  • The key for me would be selfless commitment to improving other people’s life opportunities and providing the best possible teaching and learning to facilitate this
  • There can be fewer richer or more rewarding tasks in society; DQ than what?
  • The richness and range of colleagues you get to work with
  • Opportunity to provide outstanding public service

Ques. Drawing from your experience, what do you see as one of the most overlooked aspect of HRM, one that should actually be followed or fulfilled without fail?

Ans. Embracing technology to modernise and equip HR to deliver its work in the most responsive, effective and cost effective way. Training, mentoring and development is now being achieved through IT solutions such as Tablets (i.e. IPAD) and this can deliver immediate benefits to organisations in a cost effective but timely way.

Ques. If you had to put a finger on one particular event or trend that has significantly brought in a change in the way HR functions, what will that be and why?

Ans. Tough economic conditions requiring a fundamental rethink of how HR delivers services, the value individuals offer and talent management. Achieving the balance between these three key elements and delivering the key business priorities.

Ques. What keeps you so passionate about your work?

Ans. Having worked in the HR profession for nearly 22 years, I have always remained a passionate advocate of the key benefits HR brings to any organisation. Done well, HR can play a crucial and central role in business planning, workforce innovation and, ultimately, the bottom line. In the Public Sector this means doing more for less. Working with outstanding HR staff and seeing colleagues grow, develop and succeed is immensely rewarding. Similarly, seeing an organisation deliver on its objectives and making a difference makes the job worthwhile.

Ques. What major changes do you foresee in the HR function in the next 5-6 years?


  • More virtual applications – e-learning technology
  • Linked to this, a fundamental rethink of how organisations recruit and brand themselves, use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking sites
  • Constant review of the employee value proposition as most employers will want to retain the best employees and develop them to their potential
  • Greater flexibility in the market place with more people becoming self employed and delivering/offering services to organisations. It is likely that businesses will retain a small in-house function but retain maximum flexibility in having a pool of resources to call upon.

Ques. A piece of advice you would like to pass on to all aspiring HR professionals.

Ans. Progressive change is the new constant in most modern organisations. HR has to lead the way in opportunity management and horizon scanning. Enabling the organisation to think differently, helping to managers to deliver greater levels of staff engagement and productivity will be key priorities – especially at a time when global competition means the efficiency and competitiveness of UK businesses has to world class.

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