My brilliant career – Andrew Dahms

by 08 Jul 2008

What is your current role?

Human Resources Director, Lenovo Australia and New Zealand.

What qualifications do you hold?

Bachelor of Economics (S.S)

Why did you get into HR?

The field always interested me and I studied a variety of HR subjects at university, but, to be honest, it was a chance meeting I had with an HR consulting firm that eventually led to me entering HR. I wanted to be a fund manager and started as a graduate with a financial services firm.

How did you get into HR?

The director of a consulting firm I had met after graduating university tracked me down. Out of the blue I received a call asking if I would be interested in an Asia Pacific HR role focused on improving returns from sales incentive plans and doing analysis across just about every country in the region. I had always been interested in Asia so jumped at the chance.

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

Vice President of Human Resources for Lenovo based in either China or the US.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

I really enjoy change management, so establishing the Lenovo ANZ HR team from scratch and being part of the establishment of our HR Operations team in the Philippines have been incredible high points for me. Going back to Japan with Lenovo to be acting HR Director almost 10 years after my first assignment to Japan would come a close second.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

It’s important that HR act as a business partner and understands how it contributes to the growth of the business. Any investment cases HR puts forward need to be metric-driven and fact-based where possible. As an HR leader you need to be a strong advocate for the function and to have the courage to speak up and offer your opinion on wider business strategy, whether it is HR-related or not.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

If it is an executive I am going to be working closely with I take the time to find out what their goals and expectations of HR are, share with them how I am used to working and quickly look to establish a relationship based on trust and accountability.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

I like entrepreneurs. Rupert Murdoch is very inspiring – he has consistently driven News Corporation forward through aggressive and timely acquisitions.

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

It’s a great profession. The skills you pick up are very transferable, I never expected HR would take me around the world as often as it has. Never assume you have a captive internal audience and always consider the value of everyone’s time.

Describe yourself in three words

Tenacious, Direct, Stoic.