What is your current role?
I am the Human Resources Director for Microsoft Australia. I work as part of the senior leadership team to define and execute the people strategy for the business.
What qualifications do you hold?
I hold a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology and Computer Science) from the University of Waikato, New Zealand. I am also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development (Chartered MIPD) London, UK, and a recent graduate of the Harvard Business School Strategic Human Resource Management program.
How did you get into HR?
When I left University, I moved to the UK (as many Kiwis do) and worked for AC Nielsen in Oxford as an SAS Computer Programmer and from there I moved into the area of Total Quality Management. I quickly realised that HR was where I wanted to be. The new HR manager knew everything about HR and I knew everything about AC Nielsen’s business and I told the HR director we would be the best HR team ever. He believed me and within 18 months I was HR manager for the UKand Ireland.
Why did you get into HR?
I love both the art and the science of people management. I enjoy the challenge of getting the human dimension right in business and the competitive advantage that is possible when this is done well.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
I am fortunate that I am in a role regarded as critical to business success working in close partnership with our CEO. Technology makes the world a much more accessible place, so I may stay in Australia but hold a global role for the company or move overseas, once my children are independent, into a regional HR director role.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
Seeing members of my HR team grow and develop to take more senior roles elsewhere in the company and receiving the external acknowledgement of our people strategy through awards. But mostly I think it is the private and quiet thank-yous received from individuals that have been coached to achieve great things and realise their potential.
What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?
A love of the “business of business” and the dedication and passion to understand it. An ability to partner, influence and impact horizontally across the organisation. Above all, absolute trust and integrity and the ability to apply sound ethical judgement in situations of ambiguity.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
I take the time to get to know them, to understand what is important to them both at work and personally and to build trust between us. I am then able to both support AND challenge to help them achieve their goals
Who is your biggest professional inspiration?
I have been inspired by many different HR leaders. Most have a combination of high intelligence, humility and a sense of humour. I am also inspired by professional women who refuse to accept the need for compromise between family and career. I have two children, have been married for 18 years and have enjoyed a great career to date. At times it is not easy to “have it all” but I am inspired by those who do and strive, in turn, to inspire others.
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
A career in HR is enormously rewarding and diverse. Partner with CEOs and other senior executives for competitive advantage through people strategy. An HR career is also seldom a glamorous or glorious one. It requires business acumen, determination and resilience and is not for the faint-hearted!
Describe yourself in three words
Energetic, determined, down-to-earth