My brilliant career – Amy Rixon

by 02 Sep 2008

What is your current role?

I am Human Resources Manager at Optus. It is a generalist consulting role working in partnership with an L&D consultant to support a particular business unit and forms part of the wider HR structure, including corporate HR functions.

What qualifications do you hold?

Bachelor Commerce majoring in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. I’m looking to start post graduate studies soon.

Why did you get into HR?

I always had an interest in business and commerce and I was working for a small business where I found myself responsible for many of the people-related functions such as training, OH&S and payroll. It was an interesting experience as I discovered that the business functioned more effectively when the mechanisms that supported the staff in their work went smoothly – the more support that was given, the better things in the business went. I took up a HR and IR major in my Commerce degree and found it a very natural and easy fit with my interest in business. Aside from that, I happen to find people fascinating – they constantly surprise,challenge and motivate you.

How did you get into HR?

My experience in small business management helped with an application for essentially a graduate-style role which supported an HR and L&D team. I was working full-time and studying at night, which I found really helpful in applying the knowledge I was learning. Over time, I got the opportunity to work within a corporate HR function, where I was involved in projects such as policy development and remuneration. I also worked within an L& consulting team, facilitating in-house programs and managing an international scholarship program. I then moved into generalist HR consulting roles and have had the opportunity to manage a team as well as be in a standalone HR position. I’ve been lucky with the breadth of experience I’ve had in my career so far.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Probably still in generalist HR, but in a more senior capacity and one that incorporates responsibility for a major organisational development function such as change or talent.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

Creating an HR function from scratch in a standalone HR role.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

Strong business acumen and a genuine interest in the industry you are working in; levelheadedness and consistency; willingness to learn and be flexible – and a good sense of humour!

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

Making sure you are clear on their business imperatives and what they expect of you. Consistently demonstrating that you are reliable and they can trust you. Building a good rapport with their direct reports, to help them manage upwards. And getting the basic HR stuff right!

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

Sounds strange, but my dad. He did something he loved, worked hard and had a genuine interest in the development of others. As a manager, he believed that investing in your people directly contributed to business success – he had a very successful career and is greatly respected by a lot of people in his industry and still enjoys consulting in semi-retirement.

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

If you think you are going to work on strategy and not do any admin, you are in for a shock. A lot of HR work requires practical, hands-on effort –but the good part of that is that as you are experiencing how to do it, you learn why you do it and how it adds value to the business.

This will help you in the longer term to be practical and supportive to the business, before you learn to be strategic with them.

Describe yourself in three words

Balanced, insightful, cheeky.