5 minutes with Dee Harrison

Emma Egan

I am privileged to talk to some of Australia’s leading HR professionals. These people are inspiring and I want to be able to share a little insight into how and why they chose Human Resources as their profession. I will be sharing a series of these interviews with you and will ask each one what their vision for Women in the Workplace is. The second of this series comes from Dee Harrison – Head of Human Resources for Pacific National.

Dee is a commercial, versatile and trusted HR business leader with experience in medium to large organisations like Qantas and Westpac.

With solid grounding in a generalist HR business partnering capacity and strategic transformational experience across talent management, leadership development, talent acquisition, culture, employee relations and change; Dee has an integrated view of the HR function and can balance competing priorities to realise business strategy through People and Culture.

Dee is a Qualified Organisational Coach and accredited Mediator. She is an LSI, GSI and Myers Briggs practitioner. Dee has specialist skills in commercial negotiation, union consultation, industrial (Enterprise Agreement) and performance and case management.

1. What is your career history?

Since Uni I have worked in business partnering and consulting roles in the People and Culture area gaining broad exposure to commercial and organisational challenges and the many facets of Human Resources.

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

At 14 I undertook vocational testing. Ironically early ‘90’s ‘Personnel Management’ holds as little resemblance to modern Human Resources as my 14-year old self does to me today. Yet HR was the profession the tests spat out and 25 years on, an HR professional I am!

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

Human Resources is a broad field. Deciding whether you want to be a generalist and work in an operational or mature environment, or specialise and become an expert in a particular area is something you can navigate over time but should be front of mind throughout your career.

Great HR people are wonderful because they are motivators, influencers and change agents. Talk HR speak to your colleagues, don’t with your business: The best HR practices are simple though effective, stayed and business aligned.

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

I love how my profession develops and evolves as I do professionally and we kind of weave a dance together like a married couple! I love how working in a broad, recognised profession has presented such varied opportunities. I love making a difference, both to the way employees experience their role/career and also to the bottom line.

5. How do you define success?

My life is successful if I can live each day with a positive outlook, have a feeling of contentment with my circumstances, have balance in all the important areas of my life, and have the time and resources to pursue what I am passionate about.

6. What is your vision for women in the workforce?
I genuinely don’t see or feel gender in the workplace. 90% is because I just don’t; 10% is a conscious choice. Every human is an individual and the whole person walks through the door. I forge my own destiny and I aim to influence my environment for the collective good in my mindset and actions. Not everyone has the luxury of the 90/10 mix. Getting everyone to 100% every day is where we need to be.


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