Five minutes with… Amanda Williams

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With an education in clinical psychology, Fisher and Paykel’s Talent Sourcing Manager, Amanda Williams, initially worked in sales, training and product support before moving into HR/recruitment about 10 years ago. She has worked in generalist and specialist HR roles across a number of industries including banking, aged care, insurance and media. She shares her thoughts on the HR profession and where it is heading.

How would you sum up HR professionals in three words? Controversial, traditional and irreverent. They seem contradictory, but HR professionals are. I see the traditional ones moving on, so hopefully that word won’t feature in the future.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? Be the change you want to see, and don’t spend time retrospectively justifying what went wrong – focus on fixing and improving in a sustainable way.

What are some of the biggest challenges HR deals with? Being too disconnected from the business units we work with and using the word strategic without knowing what it means. Also, we ask HR professionals to coach leaders when they haven’t had any leadership experience themselves. We are very good at talking about leaders needing to have capability plans, succession plans etc, without ensuring our own house is in order. Undervaluing the importance of operational excellence in enabling what I would call true business partnering. All these things ultimately undermine our ability improve businesses.

How do you see the role of HR changing in the future? Being more disruptive and actively challenging traditional HR approaches – performance management, development plans, job evaluations – and truly understanding and focussing on what makes people and businesses better.

What’s your favoured style of coffee? Long black with a splash of trim milk

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why? Michael Joseph Savage, I’d like to understand his vision for a great New Zealand. Margaret Attwood, a writer that captures me heart and soul. King John, was he truly bad, or just misunderstood?

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in HR, I would be…a pastry chef somewhere in France

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