I started out in retail as a trainee manager in Australia, then progressed to area administration manager. I had the opportunity to move to Canada and began my first HR role at a credit union, where I worked on its engagement strategy. This is where I found my passion. After my two-year visa came to an end I moved to London working for one of the Big Four. In 2016 I joined Landsec.
I wasn’t attracted to HR at first. I didn’t understand or appreciate the complexity of the profession until I had the opportunity to join it. Then I became fascinated with the idea of
HR being able to shape an organisation, its culture and people. I quickly realised that HR is fundamental to the success of any business and decided this was the profession for me.
My biggest worry for the profession is our ability to keep pace with change in the working environment. For example: technological change, an agile and flexible working environment, talent attraction and retention, and employee wellbeing and mental health. HR needs to be at the forefront of these changes, understanding and acting on the impact it has on both people and the business.
The biggest issue on the horizon for HR is how we balance the need to be strategic partners with focusing on people and their experience. This involves truly understanding the desires, needs and capabilities of our people and involving them in decisions.
I’m currently reading Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. I can’t put it down; both characters’ determination and will to succeed are an inspiration.
The most rewarding bit of my job is seeing a team improve their employee experience through my work with them on engagement, including improving communication, recognition and the performance of the team. Often leaders will focus solely on the results of a survey rather than working on engagement throughout the year.
I wish I’d known to appreciate my career in retail management earlier. My experience of managing people and of multiple stores across two states in Australia was invaluable. It has shaped the person I am today.
My advice to others just starting out would be to never stop learning, asking questions or working on something you’ve never done before. You don’t have to go to university or be on a graduate scheme to be successful. You just need the willingness and drive to succeed.
Alice Williams is HR manager at Landsec