5 minutes with Kate Tones

Emma Egan

Another one of my favourite Human Resources leaders – oh how I love my job! I get to talk to the best people.

Kate is a positive, driven and commercially-astute People Experience (or to some, Human Resources) Leader with over 10 years experience in dynamic, progressive and people focused organisations. Kate leads the Human Resources function for Merivale and truly walks the talk.

As a People Professional, she is passionate about culture, happiness, wellbeing and wellness and is particularly proud of the work Merivale is doing in the mental health space and also the reward and recognition opportunities that they provide for their staff. Kate truly believes that you should be able to bring yourself to work as a whole, authentic person and not need to change a thing to contribute, develop, progress and perform and I have seen this in action, it’s not just a statement. Kate believes in her people and what they can achieve.

Kate is also an Ambassador for The Remarkable Woman, an impacts based movement that aims to improve the world, one woman at a time.

1. What is your career history?

I grew up in Queensland and after finishing my Business degree at QUT, my first ‘real’ job was as a HR Coordinator with Oaks Hotels & Resorts. While at Oaks, I grew my role and by the time I left I was the Principle HR Advisor for the strata-titled, accommodation and hospitality group. I made the move to Melbourne and took on the role of HR Business Partner, with Tennis Australia, the governing body of Tennis, in Australia. Initially, I was looking after just the Tennis side of the business and the state-based Member Associations. By the end of my 5 year tenure with Tennis, I was the Manager Human Resources, leading the team on HR delivery across all aspects including the Australian Open and event series. In particular, I was very lucky to be seconded to two of Tennis’ strategic projects while working for TA, the Hot Shots (kids starter) Program and Cardio Tennis (fitness) project. I then moved to Sydney to start working with Merivale, a leading hospitality provider in the role of Group HR Manager. Having now worked at Merivale for over 2 1/2 years, my role leads a team of over 20 professionals to deliver strategic, transformational and operational support to the business with nearly 3,000 people working in our bars, restaurants, event spaces and HQ.

2. What was your motivation to move into Human Resources?

Similar to what you hear from many HR professionals – I like People! In my younger years, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I realised that practically means lots of paperwork and much less people interaction. Deep down, I’m passionate about seeing people grow and succeed, equality in the workforce and improvements to mental health services. HR brings a lot of these passions together and at times, will let me get a little of that legal exposure too!

3. Do you have any advice for people starting in HR?

In my current team, we are lucky to give lots of people, Graduates or not, their start in HR or their first taste of the profession. The advice I give is to start out in a growing organisation (as it will make for opportunities) and be selective in finding a great first boss (as they will be generous with sharing their time and knowledge). A qualification is a nice to have, but a good attitude and a curiosity for learning are far more useful.

4. What do you love most about what you do?

Broadly, I love playing a part in a positive employee and candidate experience and I love seeing people improve themselves and grow. I love that no two days are the same! At Merivale, it’s a new day, everyday and I’ve never been bored.

5. How do you define success?

Success for me is seeing my team succeed as a whole. Seeing each of them try new tasks and nail them, take on big projects and deliver them successfully and ultimately contribute to the business performing. Personally, success is continuing to learn new things, have a healthy life and be surrounded by incredible people.

6. What is your vision for women in the workforce?

I’m really lucky to be an Ambassador for The Remarkable Woman and my vision for women at work is consistent with this movement: I just want equality and to see women succeed at work. The Remarkable Woman wants to impact 1 million women personally, professionally and financially and I think all of those areas are important to tackle in order to start to get equality at work. Most importantly, I believe that women will only be successful in achieving equality by engaging and including men, not shutting them out of the problem or not giving them a role to play in progress.

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