My Brilliant Career – Libby Bell

My Brilliant Career – Libby Bell

What is your current role?

Group learning and development manager with global engineering, sciences and project delivery firm Sinclair Knight Merz.

What qualifications do you hold?

Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education and Postgraduate Diploma in Business (Human Resource Development).

Why did you get into HR?

I wanted to remain involved in education but in an adult context. I like to be a catalyst to building skills and shifting mindsets. It’s the full breadth, from organisational psychology to team and individual dynamics. The HR skill set is also eminently transferable, from government to professional services, manufacturing, retail or whatever.

How did you get into HR?

I initially responded to an advertisement for a training officer role with a private health insurance company. My first role was conducting procedures training for branch staff, and it grew from there to supervisory, leadership, sales and change management roles.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Sinclair Knight Merz is experiencing 20 per cent growth per annum, locally and internationally. This means there is an abundance of opportunities to develop individuals and teams in internal and client-focused roles. I see myself at Sinclair Knight Merz in five years’ time with the global learning and development team, and curriculum established and integrated across all career streams.

And I will then be focused on the next generation of L&D deliverables. Longer-term I would love to be involved in shaping approaches to education, so that, for instance EQ is just as valued as IQ, and that the education system values the full breadth of learning styles and preferences.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

There have been a number of high points: A formative experience took place 20 years ago when I understudied an international consultant who was leading a work redesign assignment in a large manufacturing organisation I worked with. I learned to look at development through an organisational lens and also facilitated (mediated) joint union and management award restructuring negotiations.

I have taken a systemic view of L&D ever since and have a keen interest in facilitation of group dynamics. At a large international accounting firm I also enjoyed the challenge of establishing the first integrated curriculum (blending technology and people skills) that spanned graduates through to partners.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

Relationship building and maintenance, being values driven, strong business focus, team and individual development (we use the team management profile to help us with this at Sinclair Knight Merz) and professional knowledge and innovation.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

I view L&D and HR professionals as primarily providing consulting and advisory services to the business. And I enter relationships with senior executives from that standpoint. Sound relationships are based on mutual respect, listening and the formation of solutions together to seek a common ground.

Also self-knowledge is an important thing – the more you know about yourself and your team the better equipped you are to enhance your individual and team strengths. Again we find a profile like the team management profile very effective at helping us improve relationships at work so everyone can just get on with the job.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

I am a management/leadership development research junkie. I am particularly inspired by the research and practical applications available through positive psychology – professors Martin Seligman, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, for example.

What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?

Explore your personal values and strengths as you experience and develop a range of HR skills and recognise that getting experience at the administrative level is a solid foundation for a sound professional career.

Describe yourself in three words

Energetic, practical, solutions.

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