Tell us the story of how you got involved in HR/People Operations and leadership. How did your career lead you here?
After a 25 year career in IT and electronics, I transitioned gender at the age of 52, sold my IT company and embarked on a career of professional speaking in the EDI and LGBTQ+ inclusion space.
In which industries, verticals or sectors have you focused your career?
I work with ‘People People’ across sectors – it’s the HR/EDI/L&D/org development and talent acquisition teams I work well with
Why do so many companies struggle with making HR a priority? What are some common mistakes companies make?
From an EDI perspective, often it's seen as an overhead, and not an investment. Positive people experiences result from engagement and active work. Being performative and not walking the talk is the issue.
Generally it’s a lack of investment in training and developing their leadership tiers that undermines best intentions.
You’ve been selected to give a keynote address at a major HR and leadership conference. What topic will you discuss and what major points will you touch on?
It would have to be the “Power of Belonging” – encouraging the leaders in the room to understand that they need to move past Diversity and Inclusion and think about culture and engaging in belonging to lead to positive people experiences – or alternatively “Finding Your ‘Why’ of D&I” – many people don't understand truly why it matters to them and their organization. When people get it, they get it!
Have you seen, firsthand, any AI impacts on the practice of HR or people ops? What impacts are you expecting in the next few years?
Not yet, too many organizations are running scared and pulling down the firewalls. This is a temporary, fruitless exercise in the same way they tried, in vain, to block social media channels from the workplace only to realize the value add they can deliver.
We’ll see a focus on AI complementing and supplementing humans for a while, then routine or mundane takes that involve large amounts of data will be taken by AI.
SaaS platforms and systems will increasingly utilize AI as will desktop productivity suits, it will be hard to escape it – embrace it now!
What skills have served you best in your career?
Self-Learning, adaptability, honesty, vulnerability, resilience, empathy, listening, and being damn good at what I do.
What’s the best advice you’d give someone just starting out in their people operations career, or just starting to transition from a related discipline like HR or organizational development?
People want other people to succeed. Have faith in the goodness in people – don’t spend your time trying to police or micromanage. Develop a coaching and mentoring style, listen lots, talk less!
When did people ops as a discipline pop up on your radar? How have you seen it evolve or change over that period of time?
It wasn’t on my radar, it became a route once I changed my career and ethos - I speak about it, rather than be in it.