HR in the Hot Seat with Mas Bianchi, director of people & culture, Communicare

by Victoria Bruce30 May 2016
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Early in my management career, I was told by my Executive of HR that the best managers understand the fine art of balancing both tasks and relationships.  I set the bar high for myself.  It was not unusual to see me working long hours and setting high expectations for those around me.  I always delivered what was asked but with a trail of burnt-out team members in the wake of that success.  Needless to say, my style has changed over the years and I have learned that fine art of balancing tasks and relationships.  This advice was the catalyst for my journey into self awareness, something I will always be grateful for. 
When you manage others; you impact others, taking that responsibility seriously is the reason why pursuing self-awareness is integral to successful leadership.

What challenges do you think HR will face over the next 10 years?

I think HR will be challenged by the speed at which things will change.  Technology is enabling us to work faster, anywhere and at any time.  This results in the need for organisations to be agile, to embrace flexible work as people blend their personal and work lives to meet all their competing priorities. It will present challenges in how people manage this work and how leaders react to this change.  I’ve seen some managers resist the concept of working flexibly because if they can’t see a person sitting at a desk, then they are not working.  I’ve seen employees struggle to manage the fine line that is work and personal life and become stressed and overworked.  The challenges for HR is far and wide as we deal with new challenges presented by the way we work. I do believe that all HR practitioners should pursue a level of knowledge in occupational health and safety because psychological hazards and risks are likely to feature more as we continue on this fast-paced, technology driven path.

What is the favourite part of your job?

I have always enjoyed watching people develop and achieve things they never thought was possible.  There is nothing more rewarding.  I never tire of working with the managers to get the best out of their teams.
Let’s face it, we spend a large part of our lives at work.  When I can work with people to achieve real joy in their working lives, it improves their overall quality of life.  It’s very rewarding.

What do you feel is your biggest professional achievement to date?

I believe my biggest achievement to date has been the ability to blend my passion for HR with my passion for marketing and communications. I have been very fortunate in recent years to be able to work across both management disciplines.  I have worked on brand refresh projects, social media strategies, public relations as well as the full gamut of HR and OHS responsibilities.  In my current role, I do a lot of writing and develop the messaging for our CEO and many of our Executive team.  Our engagement survey results have told us that they want to hear more from our leadership team, so it’s a pleasure to be able to help the team achieve this and to also be walking the floor, talking to our employees and hearing that having this information makes them feel more connected to the organisation.

What attracted you to a career in HR?

I started my career in recruitment, working my way up from an entry level role to management.  It was a natural progression for me to pursue knowledge and experience in broader HR management.  An organisation’s workforce is a big investment and for many; one of the top three largest contributors to expenditure.  The responsibility of helping to maximise the value of this investment is an important and rewarding challenge.

What is the hardest part/least favourite part of your job?

The recent downturn in WA has resulted in many organisations having to resize and the not-for-profit industry has not been immune to this.  Undertaking a restructure and having to tell people their job has been impacted either by way of required redeployment or redundancy is never enjoyable. It is peoples’ lives that are being impacted.  It’s definitely the tough part of the job.

What are some of the challenges particular to your organisation and your industry?

The not-for-profit industry (NFP) is changing. There is much more need to innovate; in the sense that, funding bodies are seeking more collaboration between NFP’s in the delivery of services.  There will be a requirement to think outside-the-square and those that lead the way in doing this will fare better than those who don’t.   This will pose challenges for HR as the organisational culture needs to evolve to meet the demands of the changed business environment. 

If you could host a dinner party and invite anyone in the world, who would it be?

If I hosted a dinner party, I’d love to have Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Barack Obama as my guests. I would be in awe, listening to how they push through their challenges to achieve their dreams and goals.

If you weren’t working in HR, you would be…..

Lying on a beach somewhere, drinking a cocktail.  If I was not working, I’d have won the lottery.  The only reason I would not be working in HR is because I don’t need to work at all.