Five minutes with… Amanda Tolley

SKYCITY’s Recruitment and Sourcing Manager shares her job insights and how she thinks the role of HR will change over time.

Five minutes with… Amanda Tolley

Amanda Tolley, SKYCITY’s Recruitment and Sourcing Manager, shares the highs and lows of her role and reveals the most important lesson she has learnt.

What does your typical work day look like?

One of the great things about my role is there is no typical day. It could be compiling a strategic map of talent for a specific senior management position or assisting my team in running an Open Day or Assessment Centre for our chef apprentice programme; meeting with one of our consultant chefs to speak about an employment branding campaign for a new restaurant concept, then planning out how to deliver an entire restaurant of hospitality professionals that can bring the concept to life; meeting with members of our leadership to understand business drivers and ensuring our talent strategy can support these or catching up with my team members to ensure they have the guidance and/or resources they need.

What are some of your HR highs?

Developing our new employment branding and seeing the engagement via social media has been a high. Delivering the staffing of some of Auckland’s hottest new restaurants here at SKYCITY have been some of the most challenging yet rewarding pieces of work I’ve been involved with. Seeing people you’ve assisted in bringing into the business being promoted (at times, more than once) and of course seeing people I’ve coached (in sometimes, what seems like the smallest way) to succeed beyond what they thought was possible. This usually comes down to believing in them a little more than they believed in themselves.

What are some of the challenges and how do you deal with these?

Timelines on the big projects can sometimes be quite short, the talent in the market doesn’t always fit what we want at the time we want it and unfortunately, people can really let you down at times…  You have to learn to pick your battles and/or walk away, which has been a challenging lesson. I’ve found thinking ahead to the bigger picture will allow a stronger plan operationally (both with projects and people).

Have you always worked in HR?

No, for years I worked in office administration, accounts and then ran a customer services team in the liquor industry. After a couple of awful experiences with recruitment agencies, I ended up meeting a great one. I worked with them as a temp then become a client of theirs. After a couple of years working together they talked me in to working with them in 2002 and I’ve been in recruitment ever since.

What is the most important lesson you have learned over the course of your career?

There are probably two standouts. Someone told me a long time ago that as long as you act in a way that is true to your principles, guiding ethics or morals, you’ll never go wrong which I have found to be true, particularly in a HR role. This has ultimately led itself to ensuring I treat people with respect, no matter their role in the organisation, whether that is through honest feedback, transparency through HR processes or just thinking before you speak. I try to remember and apply the quote ‘people won’t remember what you did or what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel’. I think the other lesson which may be more relevant for my style is authenticity in leadership works. I don’t try to be anything I’m not. The teams I’ve led know what my strengths are but they equally know what my development needs are.

What’s your favourite thing you love about your job?

I’m not sure I could just pick one…. The diversity I encounter in my interactions with people is incredible and can be very inspiring. Being able to see that what recruitment and HR deliver as a function, genuinely contributes to improved business performance. Alongside that, seeing great people you’ve helped identify and bring into the business succeed and deliver great results. Leading a team of exceptional people who are talented and passionate about what they do is also one of my most favourite parts of what I do and then hearing the feedback from their customers and candidates is awesome.  It’s a real privilege to do the job I do.

How do you see the role of HR changing in the future?

HR has always had to remain agile to adapt to the changing face of employee demographics.  In the last 10 years recruitment in particular, has faced constant change which of course flows into every facet of HR. Whether that be around diversity of individuals (aging workforce, millennials, contingent workforce etc) and the expectation from them in the way they work or the way they want to be communicated or engaged with. 

HR will need to remain as the change champions but will need to be more agile in terms of speed and efficiency of change as well as ensuring that strategies are in place to deploy to meet market demands. As a result, I think your “HR type” may change in the future and come from more diverse background, creating a different type of HR practitioner for the future. Strategic thinkers, innovators and those who are prepared to take some risks to make the ‘people things’ happen for their organisations will be those that really contribute to business sustainability and performance. I’m certainly not saying we haven’t had these types in HR previously but just that it will need to be common place.


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