HR in the hot seat: Leith Wiblen, general manager HR Qld, Star Entertainment Group

HC talks with Leith Wiblen about building leadership, the importance of humour and writing trashy romance

HR in the hot seat: Leith Wiblen, general manager HR Qld, Star Entertainment Group

What is your job title and what brought you into this role?
As general manager human resources Queensland for Star Entertainment Group, I lead the people streams for the firm in Queensland. I came into this role via a strong career foundation built from experience throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific, beautiful babies, and a move back home to Queensland.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be part of The Star Entertainment Group, which will create an additional 10,000 employment opportunities in South East Queensland by 2022. This will flow from transformational projects such as the $3 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development and the Jupiters Gold Coast redevelopment which will see an investment in the property of up to $845 million.

What motivates or excites you the most about your current position?
I get excited about how we can contribute substantially to the success of The Star Entertainment Group through our people.

I am proud to be part of a passionate, professional team that is transforming the way we operate. We are focusing on programs of work that will allow us to better leverage the different strengths that come from such a diverse workforce.

Through our Queensland Hospitality School, Start trainee program, talent acquisition best practices, Future Leaders development programs and the fostering of strong community partnerships with learning institutions, we are helping to build the most talented and diverse team to deliver thrilling and memorable guest experiences.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

What is unique about HR at Star Entertainment Group?
A future focus, an ability to encourage diverse thought leadership and the opportunity to respectfully challenge in the drive to achieve business outcomes. We have an exciting time ahead in which the Group’s workforce will double in size in the next few years. As a result, HR is in the midst of building scalable platforms to attract and grow talent. Oh, and we are really funny too.

What will your biggest HR challenges be for the coming year?
Growing and leveraging leadership capability.

Our role is to assist leaders to achieve business strategy and vision – something that they are going to achieve through their people. Leaders who harness the strengths of our talent ensures sustainable and successful business outcomes.

It starts with the vision of culture, and culture starts with leaders. 

What has been the strangest HR scenario you’ve ever experienced?
Early in my career, I was interviewing for security officers and an applicant decided to physically demonstrate to me how women stole televisions from David Jones.

Let’s just say it included a very long skirt and strong legs. Needless to say I gave him the job… Ok, I didn’t.

If there’s one piece of HR-related advice you could give, what would it be?
A focus on leadership in your planning and influencing. Of course, HR needs to be able to collaboratively set a vision, build a solid foundation through a framework, gain commitment and execute strategy to be successful. However what is critical to HR success is to be able to guide and develop your leaders’ talents.

How do you do that? Build trust and be credible.
For me that means be a positive, fair, authentic and inclusive leader. It is also my expectation that the team and I stay up-to-date with legislation and trends. It is important too, that we have fun along the way. A sense of humour under pressure can help.

Finally, even the coaches need coaching so work with your leaders to reach their full potential.

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?
I have two beautiful children who – in a mad ‘I am jealous of active wear mums’ moment – I signed up for just about every activity possible so I drive them around a lot.

I love the surf and beach, reading sci-fi, writing (poorly) trashy romantic novels and watching the Goldbergs.
Where’s the best place to go for dinner/drinks in Brisbane? Why?

Fat Noodle at the Treasury Hotel & Casino. There are good reasons why Luke Nguyen is regarded as one of this country’s finest and most innovative chefs. Fat Noodle is one of them.

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