HR in the hot seat: Bernadette Gates of Australian Military Bank

Bernadette Gates talks to HRD about providing support to the executive team and what she would be doing if not in HR

HR in the hot seat: Bernadette Gates of Australian Military Bank

What is your current role and what brought you into it?

I’m Head of Human Resources at The Australian Military Bank. I came into the role for a couple of reasons:

The sector: I enjoy the retail banking environment and all of the change that is going on in this sector is extremely challenging.

Our bond with defence as a mutual bank adds another dimension to the role, as we have a very close connection with the world of defence. I find it interesting and humbling that our organisation focuses so much on providing assistance to people who have other significant priorities like defending our country.    

What are some of your current HR challenges?

Our business is going through significant change – so my challenge here is to ensure the change does not become so overwhelming for people that they feel daunted by it, rather that they feel invigorated and challenged by it.

What is the favourite part of your job?

Providing support to the CEO and executive team, coaching of staff, creating new HR initiatives that will support the business priorities and really becoming as closely aligned as possible to the business leaders.

What attracted you to a career in HR?

The idea of connecting with people in a broad sense and really providing the business with a different perspective on how to incorporate the principles of HR to improve the business metrics.  

What’s one piece of HR related advice you would offer?

Be willing and courageous to stand up for what you think is right, despite what is happening around you. Don’t think the HR function is not important because it is critical.

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?

Health and wellbeing is my passion – I try to incorporate this into everything I do.

Please complete this sentence: If you weren’t working in HR, you would be…running my own business in some way – not sure doing what, but definitely focused on people development.


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