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Behind the scenes of the APS HR Professional Stream

It’s fast approaching one year since the launch of the APS HR Professional Stream. Behind the scenes, fifteen senior HR leaders from across the APS have been working to build the HR capability of the future, while navigating a year that has made incredible demands of our existing HR capabilities.

This edition, we are taking a moment to check in with two of these leaders, see how they think the Stream is going, and what it’s been like behind the scenes of the first APS professional stream.

Paula Goodwin is the Group Executive and Chief Operating Officer at the Bureau of Meteorology, and Vidoshi Jana is the Assistant Secretary, People Strategy and Culture at  Department of Home Affairs. Together, they have a wealth of knowledge about the Stream and how the SES working group will support the implementation of the stream’s strategy, the future of HR, and what you can do to get involved today.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to join the APS HR Professional Stream SES working group.

Vidoshi: I started my career as a junior accountant. I worked my way up in the field of finance, gaining experience in roles with the Department of Finance and Australian Customs Service, until becoming the acting Chief Financial Officer at ComSuper in 2014. This was a turning point in my career; for the first time I had a mentor and she was instrumental in encouraging me to collaborate with people with diverse skills, capabilities and experience.

I joined the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in 2015, and found myself thrown into the deep end, having to quickly learn about industrial relations, employee conditions, recruitment, and workplace behaviour.  I realised I had a passion for HR and with my accounting skills, I had something unique to contribute. This put me on the trajectory to my current role as the Assistant Secretary, People Strategy and Culture Branch at the Department of Home Affairs. 

When Jacqui was announced as the first Head of the HR Professional Stream, I reached out and asked her to present at our People and Culture Division Planning day. After her presentation, I knew I had to get involved as I was incredibly excited by her vision and wanted to contribute in building and strengthening HR capabilities in the APS.

Paula: The majority of my career has been in human resources, having held various senior HR roles in both the private sector and the APS. I am currently the Group Executive of Enterprise Services with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). This role is responsible for all enterprise-wide functions, excluding IT – that means I oversee strategic planning and policy, performance, finance, risk, legal, communications and of course, human resources.

I was asked to participate in the working group because of my background in HR. I’m passionate about HR so of course I was incredibly happy to see HR leading the way in the establishment of the professional streams. When I was asked to contribute to the stream and help uplift HR skills across the APS, I was thrilled.

How would you describe the APS HR Professional Stream and its aspirations for HR in the APS?

Vidoshi: As we work through the COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t think we could have asked for a better time to promote the HR profession. It’s all about working with people, building workforce capabilities, designing leadership for the future, focusing on employee engagement and reducing red tape – things that have been crucial in the APS’s capacity to respond to the crisis.

Paula: HR has always sought a seat at the Executive table and aspired to be part of Executive decision-making. The creation of the APS HR Professional Stream has provided an opportunity to define and build the capabilities of HR practitioners, so we can get a seat at the table and keep it. It also creates a forum for knowledge exchange, promotes the strategic contribution HR makes to the success of our agencies, and supports the pipeline for new HR talent into the APS.

What would you want APS HR professionals to know about the role of the Working Group, and how you are contributing to the implementation?

Vidoshi: The Working Group brings people together to share information and ideas. We can save time and be so much more effective when we learn from each other. It also gives us an opportunity to apply a consistent approach across the APS, and strengthen the strategic partnership within HR to build future capabilities.

Paula: The Working Group is really diverse – everyone has different expertise and experience, and we all benefit from coming together and talking. We also plan how we are going to develop and deliver the Stream, and make sure we are contributing to the development of what initiaves look like so they are relevant and practical for application across the APS. That is a very fluid process but one we are all committed to and very excited by.

What do you see in the horizon for the APS in light of the APS HR Professional Stream strategy, and how do you see this applying in your own agency specifically?

Vidoshi: There are a number of practical ways in which the APS HR Professional Stream is moving forward. For example, there are currently several working groups established to discuss mobility, the role HR specialists play when recruiting our HR Leaders, particualry at the SES levels, and connection in isolation, to name a few. My agency is very interested, and very involved in this.

On the horizon, I think mobility, surge capability and APS Reform will be key focus areas for all of us.

Paula: The role of HR has never been more critical for the APS, as we navigate the learnings from our collective COVID-19 responses and consider different ways of working. As the BoM continues its journey of major technological, digital, operating and culture change we will need to draw on the expertise of HR practitioners heavily. For us to be successful we need our people to be engaged, skilled and capable – so the role of HR is huge.

How do you think APS HR professionals can get involved in the Stream?

Vidoshi: Reach out to the working group and volunteer to assist in areas of your interest. I also encourage people to subscribe to the newsletter and contribute articles – this helps others to learn about the great work HR professionals are doing in their existing roles and promotes the HR profession more broadly.

Paula: The HR Professional Stream has developed a fantastic program for engagement through a range of webinars and virtual events, a dedicated GovTEAMS site and this newsletter. I encourage all HR professionals to get involved and participate – reaching out to the network to share experiences, knowledge and ideas supports us all as HR practitioners to prepare for and respond to opportunities and challenges.

You can submit articles and ideas to APSHRProfessionalStream [at] ato.gov.au.

Last reviewed: 
7 September 2020