My brilliant career – Lisa Cooper

by 28 Apr 2009

What is your current role?

Regional director human resources, CB Richard Ellis. I currently sup port the Australia and New Zealand business. CB Richard Ellis Group is a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Ange les and is the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm (in terms of 2008 revenue).

What qualifications do you hold?

Bachelor of Economics Social Sciences

Why did you get into HR?

For me, moving into HR was not a well-defined goal. Rather, after fin ishing school I ended up completing an economics degree at Sydney University. As part of this I selected a number of IR and HR subjects and really liked the concept of HR. I felt at the time it would allow me to combine an interest in economics and people.

How did you get into HR?

After leaving university I was offered a graduate role in a mid-tier law firm in a newly created HR team. It was a new function in the organisation so I was able to do a number of general HR activities. It was a great place to learn how to put the theory of HR into practice. I have been very lucky that a number of exciting HR opportunities have followed.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

That is a difficult question, especially with how quickly the world is changing, but, hopefully, still building a strong, successful career and feeling challenged and motivated.

What has been your biggest career high?

I have been very fortunate in having had a number of really interest ing and challenging HR roles and projects. Generally one aspect of many of my roles in HR that I have really enjoyed is building HR teams that add value and are integrated into the business.

One HR project that was very difficult was managing the people stream of a large, complex off-shoring project where we moved a num ber of roles and functions to a third party supplier based in India. The cross-cultural and change management aspect to this project made it challenging, but controlling the process was extremely re warding. Also my current role as HR director has certainly provided me with an exciting challenge, in an organisation that has a strong de sire to see HR grown and become a partner with the organisation.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

A degree of reliance and flexibility, coupled with strong business acu men to be able to understand the business you work in. HR practi tioners have to fulfil a number of roles in the organisation – from em ployee advocate, operations manager through to business partner – so I think this is where flexibility is really important. I think it also helps to have a sense of humour!

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

Go in with your eyes open. It can be really hard work and often not what you think it will be. Often I have had graduates think that HR is all just dealing with people but, in reality, there is a strong people focus and there is equally a focus on finance, planning and business growth.

Describe yourself in three words

Pragmatic, fun and driven.