What is your current role?
I am the group HR and information technology director at Fairfax Media, and report to the CEO, David Kirk. Our HR model is decentralised. Group HR manages HR policies and systems, group HSE, remuneration and benefits and organisation development. Our organisation development unit supports strategic change within the organisation, provides HR consultancy services and manages compliance training across the company.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a Diploma of Business Studies, a Diploma of Education, Bachelor of Applied Science (Computing), and a Master of Business Administration.
How did you get into HR?
In 2002, when Fred Hilmer was CEO of Fairfax Media, I was IT director reporting in through group operations. HR reported directly to the CEO. Fred had a preference for recruiting to the HR role from what some considered to be unorthodox areas. I was fortunate enough to be recommended for the role and was successful in my application. Although the similarities between IT and HR are not immediately obvious, both are intricately aligned with defining and driving change within increasingly complex organisational environments.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
The industry in which I work is transforming rapidly. This translates directly to a daily fix of stimulation and satisfaction. Over the next five years I will experience a number of significant and exciting career changes just by remaining in my current role.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
As media creation and consumption changes, Fairfax Media is investing very significantly in new technology, new skill development, new ways of working and all the change management associated with organisational transformation. A program of work called Newsroom Convergence is at the heart of this transformation. In my dual role leading IT and HR I am deeply involved in the design and development of this program. Newsroom Convergence is an exciting juxtaposition of people, process and technology. I’m living my biggest career high so far each day when I come to work.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
That is an interesting question. When I was first promoted to report into the CEO I identified three major challenges: a new area of working where I had little formal experience, building a relationship with a CEO with whom I had had little dealings – and whose reputation was mixed – and working as part of the senior executive team.
I found I was able to rely on the very strong experience and domain expertise (and generosity of spirit) of the HR team to drive the HR agenda and to teach me what I needed to understand. I have confidence in my abilities to lead a team and develop and drive strategy.
I also found Fred to be an intelligent and considerate boss who invested hugely in assisting my development.
The unexpected challenge was developing working relationships with my new peer group. It is a foolish thing to underestimate the value of sound and professional working relationships – or the amount of effort that is required to establish and maintain them. And this can be more difficult when working in a corporate function. The approach that is most effective is to view any interaction from a business perspective: what is the value of the initiative, project or request under discussion for this business person? HR must speak the language of the business to have credibility. And with credibility comes trust and entitlement to a view.
What advice would I give to graduates considering a career in HR?
Ensure you get a lot of experience in the commercial side of the business.
Describe yourself in three words
Strategic, structured (in my approach) and loyal.
Linda Price – career history
Linda joined Fairfax in November 2000 after numerous roles in IT management in a variety of manufacturing, distribution and service organisations. Linda originally trained as a teacher and worked within the TAFE system in Victoria. Her role immediately prior to joining Fairfax was with Gartner Group, a world-renown US IT research and advisory organisation. At Gartner Linda was a program director with the executive program, managing relationships with CIOs within many of Australia's leading companies. Linda holds a Diploma of Education, a Bachelor of Applied Science and an MBA.