HC spends 5 minutes with Sophie Firmager

by 13 Jan 2012

Sophie Firmager – HR manager, RCG

Organisation: RCG Corporation is an ASX-listed investment holding company that owns and operates a number of footwear businesses, including The Athlete’s Foot

Number of employees: 150 within RCG and 1,600 within The Athlete’s Foot franchise network

Years in HR: 6

Tell us…
Your best candidate interview story:
I was interviewing for a project management position, with back-to-back interviews all day. It was time for the last candidate of the day. I greeted him and as he sat down, he said: ‘Right, it’s time to ramp things up and energise this room. By the expression on your face, you have been interviewing all day so I’m going to help you out here, I’m going to lead the interview for you, I will tell you all about my qualifications, experience, soft skills, where I see myself in 5 years and then I will tell you what I want to know about the company and why I would be the perfect fit. Does that sound good to you?”. I told him he seemed very presumptuous, (dramatic pause), but let him go ahead. This project manager project-managed the interview to a tee.

Weirdest thing that ever happened to you at work:
My first recruitment position was at a very small consulting firm in Sydney’s CBD. It looked and sounded like a real recruitment firm, but when you glanced over to the managing director, you would see the RSVP site open on his computer and the MD happily chatting away to a lady or two in Malaysia, Philippines or some other exotic location. If he wasn’t at the office, he would be holidaying in Fiji with his latest RSVP date. And that is not guess work – the man would openly tell you where he was going, and why he thought it necessary for the business that he take the time off and if you didn’t expect to hear all the juicy details on his return, well, you were probably still in your probation.

What inspires you:
Empowering leaders that lead from the front, leaders that mentor and motivate each of their people in a way that resonates with each of them, leaders that trust their people to do their very best work and let them make mistakes. On a personal note, I feel inspired when I see people grow and develop to become a better version of themselves.

Spotlight on HR..

The best thing about working in HR:
You have the power to help individuals grow within organisations and help your organisation build effectiveness through its people. Also being the first to know everything about everyone is great and comes with the territory.

The worst:
Some people can’t get past the view that HR is just there to hire and fire. There is still a lot of work to be done to persuade people there is more to a human resources professional than just risk aversion.

Does HR have a place at the boardroom table:
Absolutely – it’s very exciting to see the HR profession incorporate business models that economists, finance managers and marketers use to drive business growth. After all, the boardroom is where strategy is developed, and HR exists entirely to source and develop the people necessary to executing the strategy.

What are the biggest challenges facing HR?
Across the board, the key challenges are an ageing workforce and the low unemployment rate, which will continue to shift HR focuses to job re-design, workplace flexibility, and employee attraction and retention. The WHS Act taking effect 1 January 2012 and the changes to EEO legislation (with implications for ASX-listed businesses) are some of the many compliance challenges.

Haich R or aich R?
Aich R – it must be a Russian immigrant thing because most people say “haich” R.


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