'Quite humbling': Professionals and teams honoured at HRD's annual HR Awards

'It's just incredible to have this external recognition'

'Quite humbling': Professionals and teams honoured at HRD's annual HR Awards

Human resources professionals from around the country gathered at Sydney’s Fullerton Hotel for the annual Australian HR Awards 2023 recently. Held in its 10th year, the awards recognise the work of HR professionals, teams and employers amid the challenges of the business world.

Their work was honoured in 20 categories including HR Director of the Year, HR Manager of the Year and a variety of team and company awards.

MCing the event was comedian Merrick Watts, who brought plenty of laughs throughout the night. Guests were also treated to a delicious three-course dinner and exciting musical performances by SongDivision.

‘It’s very surreal,’ says HR director

Taking out the prestigious HR Director of the Year Award was Bernadette Cavanagh from the City of Parramatta.

“It’s very surreal,” Cavanagh told HRD Australia about winning the award. “I lead the most extraordinary bunch of human beings I’ve ever worked with in my life. So getting an award that really is theirs is quite humbling and fantastic.”

When asked what qualities she believes makes a good HR Director, Cavanagh said, “I think you need to be empathetic, I think you need to care, I think you need to have a people focus.”

Brisbane Airport Corporation won the Employer of Choice (100 – 999 Employees) award on the night.

“Winning the award is just a testament to how well our HR team has done in creating an environment where employees can thrive and we’re really proud of that,” Kate Walder, human resources manager, at Brisbane Airport Corporation said. “We’ve worked really hard so I think it just means the world to us.”

Receiving the Best Workplace Flexibility Program was Our Watch, a non-profit organisation that works in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children.

“I’m so proud of my team and the work that we do at Our Watch,” Chantal McCrae, head of people and culture, told HRD Australia. “It’s just incredible to have this external recognition.”

HR ‘a very underappreciated industry’

The event was sponsored by Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors, with director Julian Arndt, presenting awards including Australian HR Champion (CEO) of the Year, Australian HR Director of the Year and Best Workplace Flexibility Program.

“It’s a very important industry, a very underappreciated industry,” Arndt said. “[HR] are on the front line of all the stuff we do as employment lawyers so they deserve some credit and they got it tonight.”

Fellow sponsors of the event included LinkedIn Learning for the Best Learning and Development Program, and Hays for the Australian HR Team of the Year (>1000 employees).

“The pace of change within the people and culture, the HR world, is immense,” William Prest, business director, HR Recruitment at Hays said. “Every year there’s different components of complexity which come into the world of work… it’s shifting so quickly. So we as HR professionals need to keep up the pace for that.”

For the full list of winners and excellence awardees click here and be sure to subscribe to the HRD Australia newsletter to be notified when next year’s nominations open.

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