When I left school in Brisbane I had no idea what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up! Maybe I still don't. When I left school it seemed like the next step would be to go to university. And study what? I seriously had no idea. I learnt music growing up and became pretty good at playing flute but wasn't sure that it was something I wanted to make a career out of. My flute teacher's husband asked me one afternoon "Do you want to spend 8 hours a day practising alone?" I did not. That decided that.
What should I study?I read the Tertiary selection course book from start to finish to see if there was anything that interested me. My best subject at school was Home Economics (please don't tell anyone. God it's embarrassing!). I was top of the class in every year at high school. Seriously. I liked Home Economics but knew that I definitely did not want to be a Home 'Ec' teacher. The thought of year 8 boys was enough to turn me off that. I came across a degree called "Bachelor of Applied Science in Home Economics". I decided to do that. I was good at Home Ec and Science. Why not? Of course doing that 3 year degree just delayed me working out what the rest of my life was going to look like!
Time to get to work!I finished my degree and still having no idea about what I wanted to do, I started work in my parent's hardware store. On day 1 working for Dad I was offered a Full-time job and a place in the management development program for a jewellery chain-store. During uni I worked at said jewellery chain-store as a casual worker. The decision was made quickly. I could either work with pretty things, or hammers. I was off! Poor Dad. So while I was pretty sure I didn't want a career in retail long-term I knew that the skills I would learn in this job would be invaluable. Also the opportunity to be part of a management development program was pretty appealing.
I worked for that company for 6 years and was eventually promoted to Store Manager. I learnt lots; how to manage people, how to budget and plan, how to drive profit, merchandising skills, how to deal with conflict effectively (you learn this pretty quick when you have customer screaming in front of your during the Christmas rush!), how to ask good questions and communicate effectively and I definitely learnt that there had to be an easier way to earn a living, that didn't involve standing on your feet 10 hours a day.
A career change and more study
During this time in my career I became interested in how organisations selected employees and managed them. The Store Manager who originally employed me had become the State Human Resources (HR) Manager and I wondered if that was something I could do. Back to uni I went, this time studying part-time (Bachelor of Business in Human Resource Management), while I worked full-time. Let me just say studying part-time is HARD WORK. On the evenings I needed to attend lectures I arrived physically exhausted, mentally thirsty and completely talked out*.
So even though I had decided I wanted to move from Retail Management into HR Management, and was studying to match, I had no idea how I was going to make the transition and convince someone, anyone, to give me a job in HR when I had no experience. I decided I had to get some experience any way I could. I took a casual job in the business faculty of the university, with one of the HR Lecturers which involved photocopying and filing. I enrolled in the universities mentoring program and was lucky enough to get matched with the HR Manager from an industrial type company. I attended any kind of free or cheap HR industry training or events, and I amended my resume to demonstrate my HR Management skills in the roles I had to date.
My first corporate roleI applied for an entry level role with a company that was looking to establish a new HR department. I was selected for an interview because I didn't have much HR experience and because I had other experience. How cool is that? I was very lucky that the new CEO recruited on potential and liked my energy and personality. The HR Manager I worked for in that job was also great and I was given lots of feedback and assistance which was just what I needed. I was on my way!
Move to the big smokeI had always wanted to move to Sydney and decided the time was right in 2002. You can read a bit more about why I decided move here. I wanted to work for a big company in Sydney. My first HR role in Brisbane was for a small niche insurer with around 100 employees. I wanted to see how a big company "did" HR. My first role was with a very large and entrepreneurial company and their HR systems were basically non-existent. Oh well. I still learnt heaps!
From then to now..I have worked really hard so far in my work and education and I have been lucky enough to work for some great companies and people throughout my HR career. I have completed a Masters in Organisational Coaching and have progressed steadily in my career to the point I thought I could help others with theirs, so I decided to write this blog. I have worked for big and small companies, some Australian and some Global and worked in generalist and specialist roles as I have increased my seniority in the HR profession. I have been given the opportunity to travel the world during my career to the UK, Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia, the USA, and China and work with some fantastic people and fascinating cultures.
I have lived and worked in Singapore and now the UK.
*"talked out" is the technical term for having to talk all day, to customers, to staff so that by the end of the day you never want to talk to anyone again ;-)