These two HR professionals were ready for their next challenge


Two senior HR practitioners talk about the very different journeys they took to reach the peak of their profession.

Rick Thompson FCPHR, People & Culture Business Partner, Powerlink Queensland and AHRI Queensland State Councillor

Rick Thompson knows a thing or two about braving the cold. The former BHP Billiton employee was stationed just south of the Arctic Circle in Yellowknife, Canada – a far cry from the dry tropics of his hometown in Central Queensland.

“Honestly, one of the biggest challenges was the weather,” he says.

“Facing temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius was tough. The solution was layers – lots of layers of clothing.”

During Thompson’s stint there, BHP Billiton was looking to sell its Ekati Diamond Mine.

Thompson took the lead on HR separation activities – disentangling and re-establishing everything from the HRIS and payroll systems, to HR policies and processes. He also oversaw the transitioning of staff to a new employing entity and the transition of the retirement fund.

“Our focus was on separating out all of those things from the global business and getting Ekati standing on its own as a separate business entity,” he says.

“That way, once a buyer was identified, it was easily able to be split out and sold.”

It was a mammoth task, with more than a few challenges, including shifting deadlines, and the relatively high risk of unfair dismissal and industrial action cases being brought by Canada’s unionised workforce.

“The key to managing that risk was developing a clear and transparent employee communication strategy – communicate early, communicate often,” says Thompson.

Taking on the assignment turned out to be a very worthwhile detour from the role that originally took him to Canada in the first place – HR manager at BHP Billiton’s Jansen Project, which was then the world’s largest potash venture.

“Mergers, acquisitions and divestments – these opportunities don’t come around that often, so from my perspective it was about grabbing hold of the opportunity with both hands and getting in amongst it,” he says.

Now living back home in sunny Queensland, Thompson has achieved HR certification after applying through the Senior Leaders Pathway in January.

To complete the requisite case study, Thompson used his previous work in getting the Ekati Diamond Mine “shop-window ready” from an HR perspective.

“It’s great that AHRI has provided an option that recognises the skills and experience that a lot of HR practitioners already bring to the table,” he says.

“For my experienced colleagues, I would highly recommend exploring the Senior Leaders Pathway to certification.”

He says his certified status currently sets him apart from many in the profession, and he’d like to see it become a requirement for all HR practitioners.

“When HR certification reaches the level that it becomes a requirement – both from a practitioner’s perspective and a prospective employer’s point of view – that’s when we’ve been successful,” he says.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to lead that change from within our own ranks. As US president Ronald Reagan said, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’”

“It’s great that AHRI has provided an option that recognises the skills and experience that a lot of HR practitioners already bring to the table.”

Henriette Mancini FCPHR Director, Mancini Management Group Pty Ltd

Henriette Mancini was juggling two toddlers and her own growing HR consultancy when, earlier this year, she decided to add HR certification to her plate.

Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the workload and curling up in a heap of stuffed toys on the floor, Mancini has already managed to achieve certification. And she says it has improved her career “enormously”.

“My clients think it’s quite an achievement because they know me as an individual, having two children and running my own business,” she says.

“But also, they only bring the best into their businesses – they’ll only hire a certified accountant or a certified builder – so for them it’s further endorsement that they’re working with the right HR practitioner.”

Mancini elected to take the Senior Leaders Pathway to HR certification, drawing on her previous work as Specsavers HR director, Asia-Pacific.

“My children were two and three, so I needed something that could fit in around their schedule. I couldn’t be tied up, sitting in a classroom or doing a webinar.”

For the requisite case study, Mancini detailed her work developing a talent program which boosted training and capability among local Specsavers staff, while also improving the sustainability and longevity of business operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Her advice for other HR professionals considering the pathway is: “Think about an initiative that has delivered a tangible outcome – not only from a people perspective, but from a bottom line and commercial perspective.

“The flexibility of the certification meant I could stop when I needed to and pick it up again that evening or the next morning.”

“It’s quite an intense process in that you can’t just deliver surface-level HR information – it requires you to dig deep and provide evidence, data and metrics that prove what was achieved in the particular case study.”

Mancini admits that it wasn’t always easy.

“I’m not going to lie – there were times when I thought, ‘Am I doing the right thing? Do I really need to add this to my workload?

“There would be times at night when my daughter couldn’t sleep and so I would be typing away on my case study while she sat on my lap, ‘working’ on her iPad too. Or I would get a call from a client saying, ‘We need you on site right now. We’ve had a WorkCover incident’.”

Ultimately, however, she says the process fit very well with her other commitments.

“It was so accommodating in terms of being a working mum, but also as someone who works for themself – which means you have that extra pressure of needing to get work done otherwise you don’t get paid.

“The flexibility of the certification meant I could stop when I needed to and pick it up again that evening or the next morning.”

 


Demonstrate your expert HR skills and leadership experience through the Senior Leaders Pathway to HR certification. You will have the opportunity to share insights on a past HR change initiative that you led.

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These two HR professionals were ready for their next challenge


Two senior HR practitioners talk about the very different journeys they took to reach the peak of their profession.

Rick Thompson FCPHR, People & Culture Business Partner, Powerlink Queensland and AHRI Queensland State Councillor

Rick Thompson knows a thing or two about braving the cold. The former BHP Billiton employee was stationed just south of the Arctic Circle in Yellowknife, Canada – a far cry from the dry tropics of his hometown in Central Queensland.

“Honestly, one of the biggest challenges was the weather,” he says.

“Facing temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius was tough. The solution was layers – lots of layers of clothing.”

During Thompson’s stint there, BHP Billiton was looking to sell its Ekati Diamond Mine.

Thompson took the lead on HR separation activities – disentangling and re-establishing everything from the HRIS and payroll systems, to HR policies and processes. He also oversaw the transitioning of staff to a new employing entity and the transition of the retirement fund.

“Our focus was on separating out all of those things from the global business and getting Ekati standing on its own as a separate business entity,” he says.

“That way, once a buyer was identified, it was easily able to be split out and sold.”

It was a mammoth task, with more than a few challenges, including shifting deadlines, and the relatively high risk of unfair dismissal and industrial action cases being brought by Canada’s unionised workforce.

“The key to managing that risk was developing a clear and transparent employee communication strategy – communicate early, communicate often,” says Thompson.

Taking on the assignment turned out to be a very worthwhile detour from the role that originally took him to Canada in the first place – HR manager at BHP Billiton’s Jansen Project, which was then the world’s largest potash venture.

“Mergers, acquisitions and divestments – these opportunities don’t come around that often, so from my perspective it was about grabbing hold of the opportunity with both hands and getting in amongst it,” he says.

Now living back home in sunny Queensland, Thompson has achieved HR certification after applying through the Senior Leaders Pathway in January.

To complete the requisite case study, Thompson used his previous work in getting the Ekati Diamond Mine “shop-window ready” from an HR perspective.

“It’s great that AHRI has provided an option that recognises the skills and experience that a lot of HR practitioners already bring to the table,” he says.

“For my experienced colleagues, I would highly recommend exploring the Senior Leaders Pathway to certification.”

He says his certified status currently sets him apart from many in the profession, and he’d like to see it become a requirement for all HR practitioners.

“When HR certification reaches the level that it becomes a requirement – both from a practitioner’s perspective and a prospective employer’s point of view – that’s when we’ve been successful,” he says.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to lead that change from within our own ranks. As US president Ronald Reagan said, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’”

“It’s great that AHRI has provided an option that recognises the skills and experience that a lot of HR practitioners already bring to the table.”

Henriette Mancini FCPHR Director, Mancini Management Group Pty Ltd

Henriette Mancini was juggling two toddlers and her own growing HR consultancy when, earlier this year, she decided to add HR certification to her plate.

Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the workload and curling up in a heap of stuffed toys on the floor, Mancini has already managed to achieve certification. And she says it has improved her career “enormously”.

“My clients think it’s quite an achievement because they know me as an individual, having two children and running my own business,” she says.

“But also, they only bring the best into their businesses – they’ll only hire a certified accountant or a certified builder – so for them it’s further endorsement that they’re working with the right HR practitioner.”

Mancini elected to take the Senior Leaders Pathway to HR certification, drawing on her previous work as Specsavers HR director, Asia-Pacific.

“My children were two and three, so I needed something that could fit in around their schedule. I couldn’t be tied up, sitting in a classroom or doing a webinar.”

For the requisite case study, Mancini detailed her work developing a talent program which boosted training and capability among local Specsavers staff, while also improving the sustainability and longevity of business operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Her advice for other HR professionals considering the pathway is: “Think about an initiative that has delivered a tangible outcome – not only from a people perspective, but from a bottom line and commercial perspective.

“The flexibility of the certification meant I could stop when I needed to and pick it up again that evening or the next morning.”

“It’s quite an intense process in that you can’t just deliver surface-level HR information – it requires you to dig deep and provide evidence, data and metrics that prove what was achieved in the particular case study.”

Mancini admits that it wasn’t always easy.

“I’m not going to lie – there were times when I thought, ‘Am I doing the right thing? Do I really need to add this to my workload?

“There would be times at night when my daughter couldn’t sleep and so I would be typing away on my case study while she sat on my lap, ‘working’ on her iPad too. Or I would get a call from a client saying, ‘We need you on site right now. We’ve had a WorkCover incident’.”

Ultimately, however, she says the process fit very well with her other commitments.

“It was so accommodating in terms of being a working mum, but also as someone who works for themself – which means you have that extra pressure of needing to get work done otherwise you don’t get paid.

“The flexibility of the certification meant I could stop when I needed to and pick it up again that evening or the next morning.”

 


Demonstrate your expert HR skills and leadership experience through the Senior Leaders Pathway to HR certification. You will have the opportunity to share insights on a past HR change initiative that you led.

Leave a reply

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