Kate Dee (FAHRI) is the GM Talent, Leadership, Culture, Inclusion and Engagement at NAB. She is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (UK) and a Fellow of AHRI.
HRM: What are your main two or three priorities in the job?
KD: It’s a diverse portfolio and they’re all intrinsically linked. The key priority over the next couple of years is to ensure we have genuinely customer-centric leaders at all levels.
It’s taking our talent strategy to the next level and ensuring we have the right people in the right roles now and in the future. Being even more strategic and organised to ensure we are finding the best people, accelerating their impact on the business, and future proofing the business by anticipating future needs.
The other priority is creating a genuinely inclusive workforce where people are respected for being different and valued for who they are, so they can bring their whole selves to work and give of their best. Inclusion and Engagement was reframed from what was formally known as Diversity and Inclusion because we aim to create true engagement at work by having a wholly inclusive environment.
HRM: What did you do to prepare yourself for the GM role, professionally and academically?
KD: I’ve been lucky enough to have a variety of global roles that gave me different perspectives to bring to each strategic challenge I faced. My degree was in psychology and all the professional development I’ve done has been based around leadership or management, or the psychology of leadership and management. Every business is a people business regardless of how you frame what you do because everything is enabled through capable and engaged people.
HRM: HR is sometimes perceived as a ‘soft skills’ discipline. Is that an accurate description of the HR function?
KD: I feel despondent when I see how that’s often referred to. A business doesn’t exist without the work enabled through people. So for us to think about the business in isolation from the people is not commercially sound. It needs to be in the DNA of executive thinking now. Some industries and organisations still don’t think that way. But the businesses that successfully differentiate themselves are the businesses that will think like that. If you have unhappy, disengaged people, you don’t have a successful business. So then the reality becomes very hard and not soft, doesn’t it?
HRM: AHRI is setting the bar on certification for professional HR practitioners. What’s your view on that initiative?
KD: I genuinely think it’s a great idea. We need to have a true industry benchmark. Industry-based qualifications and assessment have that unique opportunity to own how the theory is put into practice. While there’s obviously great value in purely academic qualifications, there’s a whole niche to be owned which is in the evaluation of how somebody actually performs within the workplace and how that translates into practice.
When I gained my chartered fellowship with the CIPD in the UK, I chose specifically to do the experience assessment. I could have done it through university but I chose the option where you complete a series of tasks. You have to submit many examples of your work, not work you’ve created for an academic question. And then you sit an oral exam where they drill you on whether you know what you think you know, and how you would perform in certain circumstances. I think it says something that I chose to go that way because I wanted to be able to say “I’ve been made a CIPD Chartered Fellow by experience assessment”. It was my way of proving to myself that I am performing within the industry context and not just in an academic sense.
For further information about senior pathways to AHRI Certification, email Certification@ahri.com.au
This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the November 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘The pathfinder’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here.