Linda Hamill, HR leader at VMware, talks to HRD about her career in HR and her strategy of targeting roles which ensure a diverse skill set
1990 – Finds HR
The first in her family to attend university, Linda’s ideas about her course of study are indistinct until one specific lecture.
“It was impressed on me that education would give me independence. I wanted to study something involving people and business – I didn’t know there was this thing called HR. At my first HR class I sat there and thought ‘this is it; this is what I want to do!’
1993 – Gets a grounding
Her first professional role in HR comes against the backdrop of retail as an HR co-ordinator for supermarket giant Franklins; in retrospect Linda thinks this was an ideal beginning.
“Retail is a good training ground. I look back and realise I had a lot of responsibility. I presented to the board when I was 25. It was very exciting. My whole life revolved around Franklins – I even met my husband there!”
2000 – Breaks into tech
A desire to be in an innovative field during tech’s emergent days draws Linda to Tower Technology when she hears about a position through a friend.
“This was when IT was really taking off; I was trying to move into tech, but it was a hard field to get into. I think I fluked the interview because we both played tennis! It was a massive life change; I knew it was the right industry.”
2003 – Broadens horizons
Joining McAfee marked the first time Linda had grappled with an APAC role; learning became her focus.
“I hadn’t even travelled much in my personal life, and there I was negotiating packages in all these different currencies! I had to learn really fast; we called it being ‘consciously incompetent’. I’m naturally curious; I tend to ask a lot of questions. I like to get to the core of a person and I have a natural curiosity around different cultures.
2006 – Steps back; strides forward
A role that starts as a step back in the immediate aftermath of having a baby changes shape rapidly.
“Three and a half months into my new job, my boss told me she was pregnant and asked would I like to take on her position during her maternity leave -- these things follow me around! That was my first director role, and it was so exciting. It was a smooth transition, and a great experience.”
2010 – Moves internationally
Linda has another chance at the opportunity to relocate to Singapore. She was offered – and had to bitterly decline – a similar opportunity years before.
“My girlfriend rang me saying she’d seen an ad that sounded like the role I had already -- in Singapore. It was my second chance. I cherish those years; I learnt a lot. There’s only so much you can learn within Australia, you have to look to the rest of the world. It was pivotal to my career.”
2015 – Finds a home
When she is approached by VMware, Linda feels she has found a natural match. She is currently HR leader APJ at the company.
“I felt the people and company really aligned with my values; I had an intuition that it was the right place to be and I was right. It’s a very caring organisation. My second day they put me through a course to mentor high school students; [making a difference in the community] is embedded in how VMware works. It makes you feel proud.”
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