My brilliant career – Wendy Paige

by 05 Aug 2008

What is your current role?

My current role is HR director for Warner Music Australia, one of the ‘big four’record labels. This is a Greenfields role within a very exciting and rapidly evolving industry. I have come in to set up the HR function and drive change specifically from a people perspective.

What qualifications do you hold?

I hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Management (HRM) from the University of Southern Queensland, which I received in 2005. My original study was a Bachelor of Music (Honours) from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

Why did you get into HR?

My ideas of why I wanted to enter HR differ greatly to my current views. When I entered HR back in 2000, I thought that because I had strong interpersonal skills, and a natural “way” with people, I was 90 per cent there. However, I have to say that I did also have a great interest in the psychology of people and the mind – how people interact with one another and why we do the things we do.

As an HR professional I am a coach, and that is why I am in HR now. It is the coaching of executives, managers and staff, as well as mentoring, that adds value and provides me with the most satisfaction in my job. If you can leave a partnership/conversation having helped the other person come to a solution, or at least provided them with options to consider, it is very satisfying.

How did you get into HR?

I worked my way into HR during my time with Boeing Australia. I was a Project Assistant at the time, with a heavy emphasis on HR administration, and I expressed interest in moving into a true general HR role. I had been looking into studying HR which supported my desire to break in. I was in the right place at the right time.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I would love to own my own business, however I am very open as there are no guarantees! The path could take a few different approaches: if I weren’t owning my own business I would still be working for a strong global brand and I would either have taken another overseas placement, or have moved away from generalist HR and be specialising in organisational development.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

Without a doubt working in the US with Boeing. I was able to undertake a six-month international assignment with them – which was invaluable. I was exposed to not only a different way of doing business (the culture), but to the full extent of the global business, which I could bring back to Australia.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

General business acumen, exceptional coaching ability, relationship management skills, self-awareness, adaptability in attitude and approach, innovative thinking, an inquisitive nature, and integrity (follow through on your word).

Even with all of the above, HR professionals need to “walk the talk”. It is not good enough in today’s market for us to coach others but to not back up our words with actions.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

Start by knowing their business, their challenges, and what they expect of you as an HR professional. Ask a lot of questions. Show them how you can add value to their business by delivering not only the bread and butter HR functions efficiently and effectively, but higher level strategic initiatives to assist them in improving the profitability of their business. Continually check in, get feedback, alter your approach in need, and be agile in your thinking and approach.

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

Don’t be misguided that you will enter the workforce and get immediate respect. Everyone has to build it, and particularly in HR it requires a little more effort than in some other roles.

Don’t be worried about taking an HR Administrative role, or even a general admin role, out of uni. It will enable you to get your foot in the door and if it is a world-class company, even better.

Don’t take things personally.Network! Do not sit behind your desk. Get out and be in amongst the clients, build your networks within the company, and externally.

Describe yourself in three words

Determined/passionate, gregarious, caring.