CEOs on HR: Taking HR to School

by Josh Gliddon21 Mar 2014
Simon GipsonThe chief executive and the HR director must work together to get the best from the organisation’s people, says Simon Gipson, head of school at St Michaels in Victoria

Simon Gipson took up the role of head of school at St Michaels nearly 14 years ago. When he arrived, he already had strong ideas about how HR, the board and the head of school were going to work together.

“When I started teaching in 1984 it struck me that teachers were not always valued for making a difference,” he says. “As I rose through the profession, I always kept that in mind, and so HR is something of great importance to me.”

Gipson says HR has a seat at the management table for the school, which has 1,326 students from K-12, as well as 300 full-time staff and a further 50 casuals.

“The HR director has the opportunity to work with the board and provide their input,” he says. Gipson says he is something of a rarity among the teaching profession because of his focus on HR above almost everything else.

“I think anyone in my position would value teachers,” he observes, “but few value [HR] in the strategic way we do. Our director of people and strategy is part of the leadership team, and for a school that is quite unusual.”

Gipson’s tips for HR working with the CEO
  1. Realise people are at the centre of what you do, regardless of the business you’re in.
  2. Make HR a central function of the leadership team.
  3. Invest time and money in boosting the HR function – it will pay dividends.