The much-anticipated AHRI Awards night exceeded expectations once again, when the stars of the HR profession were celebrated and rewarded on 5 December at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Street.
The awards were also a wonderful way to commemorate a year in which the Australian Human Resources Institute celebrated its 70th birthday.
HR professionals, sponsors and interested parties came dressed in their finest to toast the profession’s best and brightest.
Writer, performer and comedian Jean Kittson had the crowd in stiches throughout the night as master of ceremonies. AHRI chairman Peter Wilson told the 450-strong audience that each year the standard of entries continues to rise.
He compared the difficult decisions the judging panel had to make with those made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Wilson then invited AHRI medal winner and convener of AHRI’s Victorian branch of the employee relations/industrial relations network Nick Ruskin onstage to say a few words.
Ruskin emphasised the significant impact the HR profession can have on organisations. “We in the people business need to be the dreamers and raise the consciousness of our fellow executives,”’ he said. “An organisation is not separate to the people in it. Together we can change the world.”
CEO of the year
CEO of the year Deven Billimoria was chosen for his ability to mobilise the skills of his people to achieve success for his business, SmartSalary.
The modest CEO credited his team for the win. “It’s humbling,” he said of the award. “But I’m the world’s biggest phoney. It’s the team that has won the award, not me alone.”
HR Practitioner of the Year Lynn Baldwin praised the creativity and intelligence of Deloitte’s leadership team. “As managers at Deloitte we’re encouraged to be as creative and innovative as we can be,” she said when she accepted her award.
Innovative thinking won Fiona Michel the HR Leader of the Year award. The executive general manger of people at insurance group IAG told the crowd it’s impossible to be a good leader without a great team.
“IAG is an organisation that believes in people,” she said. “There’s no longer an advantage in products in insurance, the advantage is in customer service. And that comes down to your people.”
Last year’s HR Leader of the Year, Ross Miller from Westpac Group, was on the stage to congratulate Michel on her win. He said holding the title for a year was “personally and professionally a great honour”.