5 minutes with Che Lewer

Emma Egan

Che Lewer is the Head of Human Resources for Heinemann Australia. She is a commercial, friendly HR professional with nearly a decade’s experience gained within the Hospitality and Retail sector. Che was recently nominated as the Australian HR Manager of the year for the Australian HR Awards and this is a testament to the amazing work she is currently doing in her role. Che is an enabler and is able to engage with all levels of the organisation. Che is a key member of the Executive team and is very good at balancing the needs of the business and it’s most important resource – its people.

Che’s Story
Che is truly international, she completed middle school in Switzerland, lived and studied in Bangladesh and the Phillippines, went to university in Texas, did her internship in Thailand and finally came to Australia to complete her Masters.

Che commenced her career with the Park Hyatt Sydney as an HR Coordinator. Che was actively involved in all aspects of Human Resources at the Park Hyatt Sydney and quickly developed a passion for both Hospitality and its people. Che’s success in her role was recognised by Accor, whereby Che joined the Accor family for the next five years. Che assumed various roles within the Human Resources field at the Menzies Sydney, Accor Sydney Olympic Park Hotels, Swiss Grand Resort and Spa, Accor Corporate Office as Taleo Project Leader and lastly assumed the role of Human Resources Manager at Pullman Quay Grand, Quay West Suites, Sebel Manly and Sebel Chatswood. All of Che’s roles focused on building a high performance culture and effectively enabling change to ensure that business and people priorities and initiatives were aligned; often changing the mentality from a performance management function to more of a humanistic, business partner function.

In 2013, Che joined IKEA Tempe; moving out of the Hospitality industry to build on her skills and capabilities from a Human Resources generalist perspective. During Che’s tenure, there was a significant change in the business, whereby Che further developed her business partnering skills and commercial acumen and developed a strong understanding of the business and the bottom line. This allowed Che to truly integrate both the business and people agenda at IKEA Tempe. In 2016, Che joined the Heinemann family as Head of Human Resources, whereby her main focus has been on improving the Human Resources function, team capabilities and effectively integrating the employee lifecycle within the organisation. Che’s primary focus has been on building human resources initiatives, processes and policies from grassroots to effectively integrate the People strategy in the business in order to drive a high performance culture, where engagement, customer service excellence and sales growth is a core focus. Che is genuinely passionate about people and delivering customer service excellence. Heinemann is a family owned business, where its history and values are paramount to the success of the business.

Why did Che move into Human Resources?
Che has a natural flair to help people. Che is a strong coach, mentor and advisor and takes pride in the relationships she actively builds with others. Che is well travelled and is culturally sensitive, which allows her to relate to people quickly and form meaningful relationships. Che’s father worked in the FMCG industry and instilled in her the ability to bring out the best in people whilst aligning to business priorities. Che is very committed to everything she does and is passionate about working in the Human Resources field and bringing out the best in others to achieve both business and people success. Che is passionate about taking people on a journey- something she commits to and enjoys every single day.

Che’s advice for people starting in HR?
Human Resources is about being fair and doing what is right by both the people and the business. It is about being passionate and being open to new opportunities and new ways of doing things. The sky is the limit and thus take every opportunity that presents itself. Surround yourself with the best and take pride in what you do. Actively listen to others and be willing to learn and grow. Reflect often and do not take things personally.

Does Che love HR? Yes she does!
Che loves the human connection and truly connecting with others to support them in their career aspirations and overall journey. Che loves being able to bring out the best in others and enjoys learning and challenging status quo in order to create efficiencies. Che is passionate about leading her team and supporting their development to ensure that Human Resources is a strategic and well respected business function.

Che’s definition of success
Success is in the eye of the beholder, however in Che’s eye’s it is about doing what is right and about going above and beyond in order to deliver everything she commits to. Che is passionate about making a difference and developing her team and future leaders. Che is motivated by enabling change and building a strong culture where people are respected and trusted and where people are perceived as the greatest asset to a business. One can always grow and thus it is important to always reflect on how and what you can do better as a team in particular in a fast-paced environment. It is about celebrating success and growth and about acknowledging each other’s contributions.

Che’s vision for Women in the workplace
Che believes it is about empowering people to be the best forms of themselves – man or woman. It is about supporting each other and working together collectively. It is about acknowledging each others strengths and contributions as everyone brings something different to an organisation and we all have something to learn. It is about developing our future leaders and creating a high performance culture that fosters career progression and overall development.

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