AHRI’s mentoring program: Matthew Connell and Debbie Fankhauser


Mentor: Matthew Connell

Current job title: Manager, people and culture, Surf Coast Shire

Q: Tell us about your career history?

I have 10 years of HR management experience. I’ve worked in adventure travel, tourism, community-based non-profits and now local government. I came into HR through a role in finance/payroll and an unused degree from the early 90s. I’m very passionate about leadership development and helping young leaders understand the importance of culture and caring for the environment they are in charge of.

Q: What have you learnt from Debbie?

I’ve learnt that regardless of position, the size of your organisation and location, we – HR practitioners – are all experiencing the same challenges.

Q: What do you hope your mentee has taken away from the experience?

Although she is in an isolated rural area and role, I hope that Deb has realised that she’s not alone in her attempts to introduce the concept of strategic HR thinking into her organisation. HR is so often viewed as a purely operational, task-focused job. I also hope that I gave Deb the opportunity to bounce ideas around so that she could reflect on the sort of HR practitioner that she wants to become.

Mentee: Debbie Fankhauser

Current job title: Area manager, Madec

Q: What did you get out of the mentoring experience?

Matt really helped me evaluate my career objectives and how they aligned with the organisation. Matt also helped me to plan toward achieving some of the key milestones that would build my profile within the HR sector.

Q: What would your dream HR job be?

Ideally I would like to secure a position within a medium to large organisation as the manager of HR services, partnering with the leadership team and managing the delivery of strategic and operational HR services and support to the organisation.

In this position, I would work with an executive team, senior managers and staff to deliver operational efficiency across the business. I would want to foster accountability, best practice and continuous improvement while ensuring the effective development and implementation of HR strategies, policies
and processes to build capability across the HR team and the whole organisation.

Q: What advice would you give a mentee completing the program?

You are limited only by yourself, and you will get out what you put in. The more open and transparent you are with your mentor, the better the experience will be for both parties.

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the September 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Mentor.Mentee’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

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AHRI’s mentoring program: Matthew Connell and Debbie Fankhauser


Mentor: Matthew Connell

Current job title: Manager, people and culture, Surf Coast Shire

Q: Tell us about your career history?

I have 10 years of HR management experience. I’ve worked in adventure travel, tourism, community-based non-profits and now local government. I came into HR through a role in finance/payroll and an unused degree from the early 90s. I’m very passionate about leadership development and helping young leaders understand the importance of culture and caring for the environment they are in charge of.

Q: What have you learnt from Debbie?

I’ve learnt that regardless of position, the size of your organisation and location, we – HR practitioners – are all experiencing the same challenges.

Q: What do you hope your mentee has taken away from the experience?

Although she is in an isolated rural area and role, I hope that Deb has realised that she’s not alone in her attempts to introduce the concept of strategic HR thinking into her organisation. HR is so often viewed as a purely operational, task-focused job. I also hope that I gave Deb the opportunity to bounce ideas around so that she could reflect on the sort of HR practitioner that she wants to become.

Mentee: Debbie Fankhauser

Current job title: Area manager, Madec

Q: What did you get out of the mentoring experience?

Matt really helped me evaluate my career objectives and how they aligned with the organisation. Matt also helped me to plan toward achieving some of the key milestones that would build my profile within the HR sector.

Q: What would your dream HR job be?

Ideally I would like to secure a position within a medium to large organisation as the manager of HR services, partnering with the leadership team and managing the delivery of strategic and operational HR services and support to the organisation.

In this position, I would work with an executive team, senior managers and staff to deliver operational efficiency across the business. I would want to foster accountability, best practice and continuous improvement while ensuring the effective development and implementation of HR strategies, policies
and processes to build capability across the HR team and the whole organisation.

Q: What advice would you give a mentee completing the program?

You are limited only by yourself, and you will get out what you put in. The more open and transparent you are with your mentor, the better the experience will be for both parties.

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the September 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Mentor.Mentee’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

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