My brilliant career – Lisa Vandyke

Corporate Services Manager, Suters Architects. This role oversees HR, OHS, marketing and the corporate governance aspects of the organisation

What is your current role?

Corporate Services Manager, Suters Architects. This role oversees HR, OHS, marketing and the corporate governance aspects of the organisation.

What qualifications do you hold?

I started my career in administration at 16, and since then it’s been 20 years of continual learning. I’ve supplemented this hands-on education with various TAFE courses and in-house management training opportunities. I finally made it to university at the ripe old age of 33, where I most recently achieved a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration.

Why did you get into HR?

Being involved in change management processes in previous positions exposed me to the HR arena. Aligning HR with the strategic direction of an organisation presents a challenging opportunity, and this was an adventure I thought I would enjoy.

How did you get into HR?

While I was a project manager, my HR director mentored me in many situations involving the workforce. I started to enjoy the HR generalist’s tasks because they provided a variety of work – from industrial relations, training, development and recruitment through to the strategic opportunities and meeting organisational requirements.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

At Suters Architects – being part of the continued growth of the firm into new markets and at the forefront of all areas for which I am responsible, particularly HR, corporate governance and the general management of the business.

What has been your biggest career high, so far?

In a previous project management role, there was an opportunity to be part of the launch of a new newspaper product. This provided me with the experience of working with a committed management team, through both the highs and lows of the project.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

Commitment and patience. Having a passion for people, and a passion for seeing others achieve.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

Every senior executive I have worked with in the past has had different ideas, directions and career aspirations. From managers who insist it is “my way or the highway”, through to those where confidence building is required. With junior staff, for example, there is no set formula and you have to approach each person on an individual basis – getting to know what makes them tick. I always keep senior execs in the loop at certain stages of any project and ensure I provide specific recommendations for consideration and/or endorsement. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of a project and realising step three out of ten was not what the senior exec was expecting!

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

A number of colleagues from my previous employer, Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers. Owing to the size of that company, I had many and varied management staff assist me throughout my career, and the opportunities they afforded me have provided me with the all round management experience I have today.

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

Find yourself a good mentor who can guide you through the difficult times in HR – someone who is not afraid to talk about the mistakes they have made themselves. Always remember, the word “human” is the most important part of your job title, and this human element will be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Get to know the management and staff and learn what motivates them. Your theory as a graduate will guide you well, but textbook employees don’t exist and the biggest challenge will be those wonderful humans.

Describe yourself in three words.

Committed, passionate and enthusiastic.

Career path: Lisa Vandyke, Corporate Services Manager, Suters Architects

May 2005 to now: Corporate Services Manager – Suters Architects

May 2004 to April 2005: Executive Officer – Hunter New England Area Health Service

July 1995 to May 2004: Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers

July 1985 to June 1995: Newcastle City Council

Are you a candidate for my brilliant career? If so, send an email to [email protected]

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