Lisa Christy, director of HR, SAP Australia and New Zealand, has managed to combine a career encompassing her two passions: HR and technology. The majority of her career – stretching back to her time in Sydney University’s personnel department where she worked with a group researching fibre optics and laser technology – has been spent in the IT sector.
“It’s my passion and that’s where I’ve stayed,” she says. “I find that technology is always changing, it’s a very dynamic environment, and the people are very energetic and passionate about what they do. Technology for me is not just about the stuff we use day to day; for me the real meaning and benefit is that it does great things for the world.”
She notes proudly that companies like SAP and other large IT businesses work directly with medical institutions and other organisations that help cure diseases and save lives – “that for me is an important part of working in IT”, she says.
It was during her work at Sydney University that Christy was introduced to the breadth of HR. She decided to undertake a Masters in IR, and she undertook organisational development and wider HR subjects as part of that. She says her studies provided a solid foundation but she learned so much more from executing on the job and from other people.
“I’ve built on those foundations by heading into roles where I’ve had to sink or swim, and operate in some organisations quite independently. In others I’ve had great managers who’ve been great mentors.”
HR at SAP
After 20-odd years in HR, including work at Microsoft, Gartner and Oracle, Christy found herself at another influential and upwardly mobile IT company: SAP. Here Christy and her team of 12 HR professionals hold responsibilities across 750 employees across Australia and New Zealand. Specifically Christy is part of the executive team and she works primarily on aligning the global SAP HR strategy with local operations. That covers everything from talent acquisition, diversity, leadership development, broader people development, and also working through acquisitions. “It’s a broad role pulling those pieces together and delivering to our clients, who are effectively our managers and our employees,” she says.
She says that like any multinational company with extensive operations overseas there can be challenges in executing on the global strategy, but at SAP that global strategy is intended to be directional; she is empowered to drive and execute as needed in the local market.