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Q&A: Marion Ferguson

AHRI HR student of the year, Marion Ferguson talks about gaining insight through education and achieving a work/life balance.

Why did you choose HR as a profession?

I originally completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at the University of Western Australia, majoring in political science, and then began working in investor services. From there, I fell into human resources … I wanted a change and an opportunity came up to work as an HR coordinator at an IT consulting company. The role appealed to me, so I completed the foundations of human resources course through AHRI and that was the start of my career in HR. Since then I have held generalist HR roles and have recently completed the AHRI professional diploma of HR.

Did you have to balance work and study?

I began the professional diploma while working full time – and everything seemed to happen at once. I started a new role, fell pregnant and was trying to do the diploma at the same time. I took some time off after having my daughter, then resumed studying when I returned to work – the challenge was really balancing having a small child with the work and study.

What are some of the valuable insights you gained about the profession from your course?

As most of my training has been on the job, the professional diploma has helped to fill in some of the gaps in my understanding of the theoretical framework of HR practices. It has led to a greater understanding of the genesis of some of the practices we use today and in doing so has allowed me to take a step back and see how these ‘best practices’ were achieved over time. It also provided important insight into the full spectrum of HR activities and functions.

Tell us about your current job and any challenges it presents.

I’m the HR manager for Lite n’ Easy Victoria. It’s a generalist role in that I look after the everyday HR functions of the organisation, including people management, recruitment, learning and development programs, company policies and change initiatives. I have great support from my managing director, and management team, who embrace HR initiatives and involvement. I really enjoy the diversity and challenge of a generalist role, and the main challenge is dealing with the breadth of the workload. You need to balance different priorities and not lose sight of the bigger picture, to ensure momentum is maintained on broad initiatives while performing the day-to-day functions.

What does winning the AHRI award mean to you and your organisation?

From my perspective, it’s a lovely affirmation on a personal level – I gained a lot from studying the diploma, so it’s great to be recognised for my work. I started doing the diploma when I was at a previous employer and completed it at Lite n’ Easy – I’ve been lucky to work for organisations that really support learning and development, and with fantastic people who have been generous with their time and sharing their knowledge.

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I as an mployee of Lite n easy and after a year I am still struggling to deal with the emotional stress caused by such a health orintated organisation. My mental health was used as an excuse for not appropriately dealing with workplace bullying. In my view intentionally humiliating employees and leaving them with no option but to leave is not something to be proud of.

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