HR in the hot seat: James Law, HR director, Envato

James talks about how rapidly changing technology is affecting the HR playing field and the satisfaction of helping people reach their potential.

HR in the hot seat: James Law, HR director, Envato
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
One piece of advice that I have always been grateful for is: understand the business and then you'll understand what your priorities should be. Such simple advice but it helps ensure I am always trying to get a better understanding of what the business is doing, which ensures we are working on things that impact the business, not just making it easier for HR.

What challenges do you think HR will face over the next 10 years?
I see HR's future as very positive but we will need to ensure that all the work that we do adds value to an organisation and helps it be better and happier. Lots of stuff that we used to do can be done more efficiently (and often better) by a piece of software, so the challenge is to make every interaction you have one that requires knowledge, judgement and critical thinking.

What is the favourite part of your job? And which part of your role has proven the most challenging?
Helping people be better at what they do. I love understanding the challenges people or teams or organisations have and then trying to help them come up with some solutions that will help them overcome those challenges. I love talking! 

What do you feel is your biggest professional achievement to date?
I think being involved with a market-leading successful business that is growing, and being part of the excitement, chaos and opportunities that are all a part of that.

What attracted you to a career in HR?
I didn't know what else to do but knew I liked talking and people. Not much has changed. I was just lucky to fall into a great organisation like SEEK with a great manager/mentor who thought I was capable of more than I thought I was. 

What are some of the challenges particular to your firm and industry?
Envato is a leader in its field, but its field is global and the technology is changing – fast! That means we need to think a few steps ahead and see around corners, which is pretty hard. We are also competing with similar companies for the really smart people and that requires us to tell our story, so we can attract people to us and keep people with us.

If you could host a dinner party and invite anyone in the world, who would it be?
Oh wow! Obama for sure, Julian Burnside (human rights lawyer), Tim Rogers (rock god), Martin Scorsese (movie genius) and Dan Pink (his thoughts on motivation kind of set up Envato's approach to how we do things).

Please complete this sentence: If you weren’t working in HR, you would be…
Writing comedic fiction. I think I am funny (no one else seems to) and I like writing but suck at grammar!

James will be speaking at the HR Summit in Melbourne on 27-28 July 2016.

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