My brilliant career – Joneen Thompson

by 14 Nov 2006

What is your current role?

I am the executive manager of HR for the Sutherland District Trade Union Club (Tradies).

What qualifications do you hold?

Foundations of Human Resources –AHRI, Diploma of Counselling and Human Change with JNI, Cert IV Assessment & Workplace Training through Club Managers Development Association.

Why did you get into HR?

I started on the shop floor and I remember, as a store manager, being really excited by seeing more junior and inexperienced staff experiment with new ideas and learn from experience. I loved teaching people how to work in a business that I loved.

That’s why when an operational training role was advertised I felt compelled to apply. That advertisement at the time represented my dream.

How did you get into HR?

I was appointed to a national training co-ordinator role from a frontline store management position. It was a newly created role in the company’s national office and the HR department was recruiting specifically for a performing store manager to bring some grassroots experience to the training process.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I hope to still be working in an enterprise the way I am now. I have a really good family/work balance right now and in five years’ time my family will be in a very different phase so hopefully, in the professional sense, I will have made time for more formal study.

On the home front, I hope that I will have travelled more with my partner and have time to share a hobby or interest with my daughter.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

Tradies winning a national people management award in our category is definitely the highlight so far. I loved that Tradies won as the award is one we can all share and be proud of.

The principles of HR and leadership are so firmly entrenched in the culture of this organisation that it is indeed my humble privilege to oversee HR. I am very proud to be a part of my organisation.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

It takes courage and perseverance and an ability to weave lofty aspirations into simple, ‘doable’ projects. Someone said to me once that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. HR is one big elephant!

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

I work on demonstrating accountability, authenticity and honesty with people. I think it is important to create a space for open and honest dialogue when working through problems – especially people management issues – and then demonstrate my support for the decisions made.

People management can be difficult and subjective at times and there must be space for others to communicate how and what they think or feel so we can build consensus and make the best decisions possible.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

I am lucky as I have several people who have made great contributions to my personal and professional development. The standouts are Shane O’Hart and Loretta Campbell, who hired me in my first training role, Julianne Petersen from David Jones, and Tim McAleer –my GM at Tradies.

These people share the same characteristics: they are honest, passionate, communicative, challenging and set high standards. Most importantly, all are exceptional business people who ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate high levels of integrity. For me, people who are smart, have good character and work with personal vision are the most inspiring.

What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?

HR theory is important and great HR people evolve (and it takes longer than you think) through a process of making theory relevant. One HR model does not fit all and whatever you do must be relevant, sustainable and consistent.

Find good mentors and be very prepared to get alongside the people who work on your organisation’s frontline – everything you’ll ever need to know you’ll learn there. Listen to your frontline – you work for them! Be prepared to make mistakes, be accountable and always share the credit for your victories.

Describe yourself in three words

Creative, competitive and adaptable.


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