Henriette Mancini is HR director at Specsavers Asia-Pacific.
When you began your career you originally planned to study law but changed direction after a stint at a law firm. What made you decide human resources was the field for you?
The industry exposure program at secondary school while doing VCE allowed students to see different professions in practice and I was quite lucky to recognise that my passion for people and law could be combined into the area of human resources and industrial relations.
Partnership is one of Specsavers’ key values — how do you ensure that comes across in the day-to-day management of staff?
As an executive management team we ensure partnership is demonstrated in everything we do when it comes to staff. We have a single office floor plan with all departments accessible to each other, no closed offices and a very flat organisational structure.
What are the specific HR challenges of working in the retail sector?
Ensuring my team, the retail HR support and advisory services, training and tools are up to date in the areas of workplace legislation and Modern Awards has been imperative in assisting our retail teams to support the store partners and retail team members.
Specsavers has experienced rapid growth in Australia, from just a handful of staff in 2008 to over 400 in 2011. What recruitment methods have you used and how do you ensure you get the right staff?
The Specsavers brand and reputation have a strong standing and seem to speak volumes with the numerous application we get for any advertised position internally and externally. It’s also very rewarding for the HR team when we advertise internally and team members recommend friends and family — they are proud to be part of the Specsavers story and we have had minimal issues recruiting graduates right through to senior executives.
The passion for the business is evident in the office and demonstrated through the number of requests we receive from team members in offices in other countries such as the UK. Of course, we also recruit using print media, the internet and numerous agencies with which we have strong relationships.
In previous roles you have set up global offices in Asia and the USA — what local differences did you come across between HR in these territories compared with Australia and New Zealand?
Getting to know the cultural difference and differing business etiquette/practices has been as important as understanding the difference in employment law in all these countries.