An open letter to members and volunteers

A message from Sarah, AHRI's new CEO

My first week at AHRI has been exciting and informative as I learn about AHRI’s operations, people, members and stakeholders. So many of you have been in touch with messages of welcome and offers of assistance, and I can already see that this is a community that is driven by passionate people who ultimately want to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me every day.
I am honoured to lead and serve AHRI. While AHRI has had great successes, I am hungry to do more and deliver more for our members and the wider HR profession.  But we can’t do this without our members, in particular those who serve on AHRI’s Board, State Councils, Advisory Panels and in so many other ways. After only a week, I am amazed to see the dedication of AHRI’s volunteers, and there is no doubt that their work contributes enormously to AHRI’s effectiveness.
I strongly believe in the ability of our profession to shape positive work cultures. It is a critical time for Australian business, many of whom need to reshape their culture and governance to ensure they are serving their customers, stakeholders, employees and the wider community in the best possible way.
We are also seeing societal and political change that is reframing the way organisations should support and interact with their people. And overlaying all of this is the rapid technological change that is altering the way we work.
As we start a new phase of our journey together, I wanted to share some background on myself.

Who am I?

I have already said that I am passionate about making a difference through my work, and I love the sense of responsibility that working for an industry or membership body brings. More generally, I have a strong interest in political and societal change, and in understanding where we’ve been and what’s next for us as a society and individuals. This is reflected both in my love of literature – I read widely and voraciously – and my fascination in listening to others’ experiences, where they’ve come from and what has shaped them.
At home, I live with my husband, our 12 year old son and our three dogs. As a family, we have travelled extensively throughout Europe over the last 9 years, exploring various countries and learning about their history and contemporary issues. Now that we have returned to Australia from the UK, we all hope to spend time exploring closer to home.

Where have I come from?

My previous appointment was Director General (Chief Executive) of the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA) – the trade association for the structural steelwork sector in the UK and Ireland. BCSA represents companies that design, fabricate and build large steel buildings, such as the Shard and other iconic buildings. In this role, I could often be found donning a hard-hat and ear protection to hit the factory floor and see what work life was like for the predominantly male workforce.
Over time, I was pleased to see an increase in the number of women welders joining the manufacturing industry; a positive side effect of growing automation in the industry. One of BCSA’s subsidiary companies provides certification services to the industry, and I oversaw a rapid take up of certification during my tenure. It was absolutely clear to me that certification drove process and quality improvements, and cost savings, providing a clear return on investment, and I see definite parallels with HR professional certification.

Where to next?

Over the next weeks, I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at AHRI events, panels and meetings as I get out and about. I’ll be asking you about the issues that you are facing as a HR practitioner, those facing your organisation and its people, and what you need to start preparing for. And while I naturally want to hear about how AHRI can help, I also want to hear your own stories and get to know you, the person.
If you would like to share your own personal message with Sarah, you can contact us.