Jen Alder -HR Co-ordinator

HR Co-ordinator

In trying to come up with a bio, I think the obvious opening line is “I work in HR.” That’s a little hackneyed though, and it doesn’t feel like the biggest or most interesting part of my professional bio. Although, I guess that might depend on your view of HR.

HR is my “Plan C”. As someone who is still figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up, that’s probably not a bad batting average. It does mean that I bring a wide variety of experience and training to my work

I started out in theatre – I trained and worked as a performer and writer. After a while I realised that I was going to need a job where I didn’t have to spend so much time promoting myself, so I followed my next passion. I qualified in archaeology (specialising in forensics) and museum studies. I did a lot of volunteer work and internships and then made the mistake of looking up the statistics. 8000 people employed in the cultural heritage sector nationwide. That was the very low number published before the Bureau of Statistics was instructed to stop collecting statistics on the cultural heritage sector. I still have to take a deep breath on that one.

So, it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to do something responsible if I ever wanted to do grown up things like paying bills. I trained in HR in the hope that it would make me more employable in the cultural heritage sector. Oh well.

What it did, though, was take me on an entirely unexpected journey. I discovered a talent for understanding people and helping them. I found ways that I could make a positive difference in the lives of people I worked with. I even found that I wasn’t bad at business – in a big picture sort of way (just don’t ask me to do your finances).

I discovered that HR is more than award interpretation, workforce planning and firing people. It is all of those things, and there is a big chunk of the job that means you get used to people not being happy to see you walk into a room, but what I love about HR feels very removed from that. I love promoting learning and development – taking a workshop and introducing people to new information and skills is a thrill. I love getting to know the staff – finding out what makes them tick, why they love or hate their jobs and giving them a place to come to talk or get advice. That feels important. When I say “I work in HR”, that’s the stuff that I think about.

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