What is your current role?
The title of my current role is Manager, Human Resources Commercial Victoria/Tasmania, Australia Post. The commercial division of Australia Post covers all customer interfacing functions of the business.
What qualifications do you hold?
I hold degrees in both economics and law.
Why did you get into HR?
I started my working life in one of the big accounting firms before making the move into law. I wanted to work more closely with people and helping people – working in law gave me more scope to do this. Ultimately I found myself doing quite a lot of industrial work, particularly unfair dismissals. When the time came for me to move on, industrial relations was the obvious choice. I joined the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) in the capacity of industrial officer. It was towards the latter part of my time with the ARA that my interest in HR developed. I could see where many IR problems could have been resolved much more effectively if I had the opportunity to be involved at an earlier part of the process.
How did you get into HR?
As part of the ARA’s efforts to broaden its services, I took on the role of developing a number of HR products and services to be offered to the retail industry, in particular to the SME segment of the industry. Then a colleague who had taken up an HR advisory role within Australia Post recommended me for a position. I’ve been with the organisation now for nearly five years.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still within HR and probably in a role that has a national focus to it.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
When I first joined Australia Post, the HR function in the commercial division in NSW was still in its infancy. To have the opportunity to set the direction for the function and develop the team into an extremely professional unit with a great deal of credibility with our key stakeholders was very satisfying.
What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?
A high degree of commercial acumen and an understanding of your organisation’s business imperatives are crucial. HR professionals can’t divorce themselves from the commercial side of their organisation. The ability to establish and build relationships is also an important success factor.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
The key here is to understand the business and their needs. The effectiveness of HR isn’t measured by the value we think we add but by the value that the business thinks we add. This means we need to understand the business intimately and the needs of senior executives in achieving their objectives.
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
Be very sure about the reasons why you want to get into HR. If it’s because you prefer people to business then you may want to rethink your choice because the two go hand-in-hand. Also, HR is a very broad discipline, so give some thought to whether you want to specialise in a particular field or remain as a generalist. All graduates should spend at least two to three years in generalist roles even if they have a preference for a particular part of HR. Finally, if you can, find yourself a mentor within the industry who you can discuss things with.
Describe yourself in three words
Passionate, innovative and committed.