HR Professional of the Year: Finalists

The Rest HR Professional of the Year recognises a standout individual in Human Resources who demonstrates excellence through leadership, strategy and their achievement of business outcomes. They demonstrate innovative employment practices that attract the right people to the business and their people are happier and stay longer, contributing to the overall success of the business. If you have a great HR manager, your business is set.

Our finalists are:

Susan Foenander

Wallingtons WRG |

Susan is a Human Resources professional skilled in change management, people and culture, and empowering employees. In the last 12 months Wallington’s have embedded GREGORC assessments as part of their pre-employment of key candidates coming into the business, and commenced assessments for all senior sales leaders, the leadership team and some of the administration roles. This has been a game changer for Wallington’s’ no longer do they recruit solely on skill, because culture and fit are vitally important to the success and growth of their business. Wallington’s pays above award rates, offers a highly attractive staff discount scheme and seeks employee input on operations via regular surveys and communication methods.

Notably, Susan launched an employee assistance program this year. Looking out for employee’s mental health is paramount to Susan, and the program proactively “checks in” on the team every month to track their expectations, and flags if they are in need of support.

Emma Miller

Boardriders |

Emma is a true people-person and it’s reflected in all of our HR practices. Before a new team member steps into our office, store or warehouse, they’re already embraced into our team, and immersed in our culture. Our recruitment philosophy is simple – we lead with who we are before what we want, because our culture and values are at the core of how we work. When a new team member arrives at the door, they’re greeted by their HR partner. They immediately receive a workplace tour with meet-and-greets before being gifted a welcome pack and starting their onboarding plan with their team. It doesn’t stop there. HR facilitates an entry interview (with every new starter in every location) to see how they’re settling in after a few weeks. After that, it’s casual coffee catchups & workmates from there on out.

Emma always has a pulse on how our team are feeling region wide, and instead of a static plan, we have a responsive approach to nurturing our employee experience. The list of initiatives would be endless, but here’s a few that speaks volumes about the kind of example she sets:

  • During a cyberattack, the HR team relocated and set-up at IT’s entrance as their gatekeepers, triaging every query and call across our region to help carry the load while IT got us back online
  • Throughout COVID-19, Emma’s made sure we nail our communication to give everyone at every level certainty. We distributed care packages, promoted wellbeing and created an entire platform of resources. Because of our level of transparency and engagement, we could genuinely feel that the team was more connected than ever before.
  • We’re currently rolling a store structure Australia-wide that’s aimed and providing our team members with stability and certainty into the future.

Kate Stewart

MTB Direct |

Kate is the Head of HR at MTB Direct, and joined the team over two years ago. Since then she has been an integral part of business operations. While not many small businesses have an in-house HR resource, MTB Direct have found that Kate’s presence and exceptional work has been an invaluable factor in growth and ability to attract, retain and grow awesome people. She combines her experience in pyschology, small business operation, and of course mountain biking, to ensure the team is happy, motivated and developing along their own pathways.

We have been a remote business for many years, and Kate has worked hard to develop an onboarding process that ensures employees feel connected and welcomed from their first minute on the job. New jobs are daunting at the best of times, but especially so when they are fully remote.

Kate has a full system of performance reviews that she is constantly updating. This system is designed not just to address performance but to encourage employees to strive for professional and personal goals, and provide a space (quarterly, or more frequently as required) to ensure the employee and the organisation remain aligned.
Peer feedback for Kate is among the most positive in the organisation. She is one of the most well-respected, highly valued members of the MTB Direct team.

Who will win? You’ll need to register for the National Retail Awards Online Gala to find out. Join us at 2pm AEST on Thursday, 15 October 2020 to celebrate the best of retail. Don’t forget to share on your social media pages and use #nationalretailawards.