How regularly do you think about or work on your personal brand? Have you actively created an image, mind set or persona of how you’d like to be viewed in the minds of others’ from a professional perspective? Do you know how you are viewed in your area of expertise or market?

Maybe we should take a couple of steps back, to what is a brand? A brand is everything from a design, image, colour, emotion, impression, tone, symbol etc that separates one thing from another; the unique identifiers. From a business perspective we know what this means and why we do it. We all know the golden arches of McDonalds, from childhood we associate this with fries and a burger, knowing that no matter what McD’s we go into we can guarantee what we’re going to encounter. But why would we do it from a personal perspective? The answers include the likes of better job prospects, extending your networks, recognition, reward, progression and development. Your personal brand is your reputation and your calling card, so in essence we’re building a brand around our careers to ensure they grow.

People with strong personal brands know their strengths; they know who they are and where they’re going. Personal brands are made up of values, passions, purpose and goals. To do this you’re going to need to know your why. I recently attended a seminar by Brand Strategist Phil Pallen ( hosted by the wonderful team at IMNZ who recommends refining your brand why to one sentence – that includes the essentials “What’s In It For Them” in terms of what you can do for other people. His being that “People need brands and companies need to show more personality” which tells us in a nutshell what he’s all about. Phil further believes that “the best branding recreates an in-person experience”. Meaning your brand needs to be authentic.

To be authentic you need to think both about yourself, and your audience. Knowing your audience will play a huge part in the marketing plan for your personal brand. It boils right down to the way you communicate, dress and present yourself, so be mindful of all of these things when thinking about your brand style. Yesterday I attended JobFest in Auckland, an event aiming at getting youth into employment and onto career paths. They had specifically been coached on the importance of the first impression, the way they dressed, approached hiring organisations, spoke and the way they carried themselves. Many of these young adults had taken this on-board and done a really impressive job of putting their best foot forward with their audience (hiring organisations) in mind. But others still had a long way to go so think too about where you sit on this scale and whether there are changes you could make, no matter how big or small to improve your outward-facing personal brand.

After these initial stages ensuring your brand is multiplatform is key to success. But more important is choosing platforms that sit well with you and what you’re trying to achieve with your brand, particularly when it comes to social media. Doing one or two exceptionally well will get a lot more cut through than spreading yourself too thin. Again, it’s important to keep the tone, look, feel and imagery consistent – it should all become instantly recognisable as you/your brand.

If you can back up social with further activity such as blogging, speaking at events, contributing to white papers, all the better as these will all contribute to growing your profile. Stick to the subject matters and areas you know you excel at, that provide a “what’s in it for me” for your audience. It’s also important to commit to continuing to learn and grow to stay relevant and continue to “solve problems” and engage that audience.

Having written this post I realise it’s a great reminder and there are certainly a few more things/changes I could make to my own brand. What changes will you put in place? And is there anything you would add to above that I’ve missed?



I was recently asked by the wonderful team at Elephant Training & HR to speak at their HR Advisors Conference on the use of Social Media in and for HR. I have now turned this into a series of four blogs that will be posted over the coming weeks.

The areas I see social media best benefitting and working with HR are as follows: Talent Attraction, Communication, Learning & Development and Social Employees and these will be the blog topics coming up.

But first….a look at the stats to keep in mind as you read the series…


It’s important to note that these staggering figures below are monthly users! And to give context, as of January 2016, the total worldwide population was 7.4 billion

  • Facebook: 1.55 billion
  • Youtube: 1 billion
  • Google+: 400 million
  • Instagram: 400 million
  • LinkedIn: 450 million
  • Pinterest: 100 million
  • Snapchat: 100 million
  • Twitter: 320 million
  • Vine: 100 million

I’m actively involved with 8 of these platforms, currently learning my 9th and still have one on my bucket list to master!

I think there are a lot of people out there at the moment particularly in the “People Professions” that are sceptical of social, who don’t engage with it from a professional standpoint, and even on a personal basis in some cases, as they’re nervous of the repercussions, not sure of how to use it – or indeed why they would use it.

But my argument would be how can you afford not to – you can see the numbers here……and I figure if I can teach my Mum how to use Facebook, albeit it’s taken a lot of time and patience to get her understanding that she doesn’t have to friend people, comment or like if she doesn’t want to and isn’t obliged to respond to every interaction, but she’s doing it and finally loving it.

Another example is my partner; a senior sales executive he will never “do that Facebook thing” (even though I’ve caught him checking out pics on mine on multiple occasions!) But he has fully embraced LinkedIn and is one of the most active users I know – he encourages it in his staff as well and as a result they’ve booked multimillion dollar media campaigns as a direct result of LinkedIn connections.

I ran a session on LinkedIn with another sales team and following that session one of the team made 32 targeted new connections with CEO’s specifically in their industry and has since followed those up to make 19 face to face meetings with those people.

So like I say – how can you afford not to tap into and utilise such an amazing resource? First blog coming up!

Personal Learning Networks 101 (#PLN)


A #PLN is a group, real or virtual, of people with a common interest sharing ideas, findings, theorising, challenging and the like resulting in personal development. The #PLN you create around yourself will guide and steer your future personal development, and in turn you may contribute to the #PLN of others.


With the exponential growth in new technology, innovation, disruption in societies worldwide at the moment it doesn’t matter what industry you belong to or see yourself as a part of, the need to continually grow and develop has never been stronger. To keep ahead of the game, creating a #PLN will ensure you never stop learning.


Find the thought leaders in your chosen field of interest. Search them out, get opinions from others, follow their progress and validate who they are and what they stand for. Find those that align with your thinking, and are in line with the future direction you want to take.


Social Media is a near one stop shop. The obvious ones being twitter, facebook , google+ and LinkedIn. For more specialised areas of interest you may need to look a little further online, but there’s something for everyone.

Blogs are another great source of learning. Find people who’s thinking aligns with yours, then check out who’s liking and following their posts as there’s a high probability they’ll be like minded.

Looking further than social media and the comfort of your couch, MeetUps are a fantastic way to meet people in real life (#IRL) with similar interests to yourself. Head to as a starting point.


From a social media perspective, join groups, participate in conversations, follow hashtags. Get involved! And don’t be afraid to have a different viewpoint or question something as this often sparks debate, resulting in more learning for all. When you find someone you really connect with – check out who else they’re connected with as a great source of people to begin expanding your network.

In real life, be bold and be brave. Introduce yourself. Make the first move, not everyone is a natural networker, so most people will be grateful when you initiate the conversation, and remember you have a natural opener as you’re all there for your shared interest.


Next steps for me are to compile a snapshot of my #PLN centred around the People Professions…HR, People, Culture & Performance, Learning, Development , Recruitment and the like – so watch this space is that’s also up your alley!


For anyone in the recruitment and related spheres in NZ who didn’t make it along to #RHUBEdge you missed out. Once again Phllip Tusing (@PhillipTusing) brought together an awesome line-up of speakers who engaged, taught, wow’d and sparked debate in the audience. The twitter feed was alive and kicking, even trending for the day so for those who couldn’t be there the learning’s (and some other less professional stuff!) were shared.

MC, Iain MacGibbon (@nzheadhunter) opened and kept us on track for the day, I’m sure it was a bit like herding cats at times, but he did a stellar job. The crew at AUT and the venue staff onsite were awesome – so big thanks to them, and of course to the JobAdder team for the beersies afterwards.

William Tincup (@williamtincup) took the stage first up; the programme announced he would “take delegates on a rollicking crystal gazing ride to predicting future scenarios and offer practical solutions gained from recruitment leaders around the world”. I think he delivered on this. I’m not sure how many will take his tips for time management to the 15min increments he does, but I have no doubts that those who do will get the day a week back he promises. His ideas and solutions for time hacks got us all thinking and gave us something to take away.

Brett Iredale (@BrettIredale) from JobAdder was all about technology and its impact on the world of recruiting. His two biggest tips were HiringSolved and VideoMyJob an app designed to create job ads. A list he gave of tech to check out included: SparkHire, enboarder, and Weirdly as well.

Jason Ennor of MYHR (@MYHR_NZ) ran us through what HR want from Recruiters; reading the buyer, pain points (and how to reduce the pain!) and track records. This is a whole other blog in the planning given the debate sparked throughout the day in in-house versus agency recruiting and the resulting relationships. Watch this space!

A panel discussion including Marisa Fong (formerly of Maddison), Carmen Bailey (of Emergent) and Garth Brooks (formerly OCG, now Bureau) gave access to a Q&A session from some of the best in the business with exponential experience between them – and again, lively debate!

Katy Anquetil (@KatyAnquetil) took one for the girls on “women in leadership” with some scary stats on the figures in NZ, breaking the glass ceiling, Tall Poppy and Queen Bee syndromes. George Brooks followed on In House versus Agency – as I say for another blog! James Gilbert (@jatgilbert) had some compelling stories on inbound marketing and the value of creating engaging content – essential in today’s customer driven environments. He also recommends checking out your website on

All in all, as I say, an extremely well run day, with fantastic speakers – people at the top of their game we can all learn from. And another awesome opportunity for networking…probably more so for those of us not running home to rugrats being school holidays! Looking forward to the next one. Last words from William Tincup: “What gets measured gets done. And Process eats Software for Breakfast”.

Lull or Null?

If you run in the same or similar circles on SoMe to me and on the whole I’m assuming you do, then I’m sure you’ve seen this blog from @Rachiemouce that sparked this blog from @HRmanNZ, and we’re waiting on a follow up from @everydaymanager as I write. So yep, I’m jumping on the band wagon. I love this sort of thing, I love people, opinions, perspectives and some healthy debate and hopefully sparking of new ideas. And to be fair, for me, it’s exactly the post / comments I needed to really kick start me back into this arena in 2016.

I tuned out over the Christmas / New Year’s break…and to be fair there were days I regretted my sign out/off period while we battered wind and rain in our NZ summer, but the days where the sun was shining and the beach was beckoning made it all too easy. Now we’re all back at work, and in our particular pocket of the world the weather is spectacular; today alone I came home from work, swam for exercise for an hour alone then was joined by my daughter and extended family for “canon bombs” in the pool according to Miss 5 for a further hour. Bliss. What could be better?!

Sure I sit here now a few hours later with family staying over, at my computer working (and now blogging!), but it’s worth it. I switched off, I’m back on, but I’m easing in to it. I missed the posts and the updates initially – and like I say most especially on the rainy days, but the silence was nice for bit. And that my point in all of this, for a bit. I’m ready now to start again, recharged, and missing the conversations, the learning’s, the debates, the laughs and the networking. Yes, there’s a lot of noise, but there’s so much to be gained as well.

I wonder if we notice this lag in kiwi land or indeed the Southern Hemisphere while we’re all in summer – and do we notice the same from our Northern counterparts when their summer hits and they go out to play?

I wonder too if it’s new year, new role? I’m in that boat so there’s more than usual to get my head around and to think about on a daily basis, meaning other things are taking a priority for right now, but by no means do I intend for that to go on. Who else is in that boat? Many in my personal circles, so again I’m assuming (and yes I know that old saying assume makes an ass out of you and me),that there are others out there in this boat?

Or I’m simply making excuses? Blind to the change in front of us? I hope not and I don’t think so. There is a lot of noise, but there’s also a lot of cut through. And I for one am not signing out. I look forward to the learning, the development, challenges in thinking /ways of working / behaviours / processes etc  that 2016 brings me via blogging and SoMe. And most of all I look forward to the connections. There are people I’ve never even met in real life that I feel close to, that I care about and are part of my circles I’ve only met through these channels. There are others I’ve connected with that I look up to, admire and learn from. I’d hate to think there was an end to this. It’s so valuable for all of us and a largely untouched and unchartered as far as I can see…the cool kids always move on first and the rest of us play catch up…but in this instance I’m looking forward to catching up. And I have no doubt that will be in new channels and horizons – but it’s the sharing that I look forward to the most.

So not an end, but perhaps a lull; maybe a change in course or dynamic. A signing out, but not signing off? Here’s to the future, new beginnings, carrying’s on and best of all innovation, disruption and collaboration.

This Time, IT’s Personnel – #review

This Time, It’s Personnel

Humane Resourced 2

Curated by David D’Souza


Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School, sums this book up much better than I could ever attempt to in her foreword:

In many ways this book is a celebration of connectivity – its content has been crowd-sourced from around the world, each contributor has their own voice, personal opinions and areas of expertise, there is advice, outlooks, poetry and passion and, like a really fine celebratory meal, the whole is even better than its constituent parts (2014-11-01). This Time, It’s Personnel: Humane Resourced 2 (Kindle Locations 99-101).  . Kindle Edition.

This group of HR professionals from around the globe have come together to create something quite brilliant. Incredibly, considering many of these folk “speak” via various channels, social and otherwise on regular basis, each and every piece is very individual. Sure, there are recurring themes throughout the book such as L&D, the new role of HR, communication, organisational culture, mindfulness, diversity and so on, but each given their own view, personality and slant to ensure not a thread of repetition.

There are some truly talented writers amongst the group and personally I loved the magic of storytelling from the likes of Gemma Reucroft and Simon Arrowsmith, and the clever poetry from Broc Edwards and Malcolm Louth. This is a group of professionals writing passionately and authoritatively on HR and the world of work, but despite its focus the book reads nothing like a text or self-help book. However, the lessons within its pages are many; and they are delivered in such a way as to make it an easy read like a collection of short stories.

 “I shout at you to motivate you” is a classic one liner from Donna Hewitson, Alex Hagan makes a fantastic analogy between Winchester Mystery House and HR approaches in organisations, and Ben Malcolm’s suggesting values may be “a bit like marmite” are some of the more quirky gems from this book. There are mentions of pigs, elephants, various music references and even an entrance from Marilyn Monroe. They combine with reflections, questions and statements that will have you rethinking, analysing and pondering your own actions as much as the processes and practices in your place of work. And almost all with a view to improving HR. The way we work, the value we add, the processes and systems we put in place.

This is a must read for anyone interested in the areas of HR, L&D, OD. You will learn, you will think and be challenged, and thanks to Raksha Khilosia you will laugh as well. An excellent extension to 2013’s Humane, Resourced.

changing the hr game

I was fortunate enough to attend the #hrgcnz last week, and I can’t speak highly enough of my experience. I’ve come away excited by the new ideas, concepts and thoughts, so much so that it’s taken me almost a week including two days in an isolated Kaipara Harbour bach to unravel my thoughts and takeaways. I have developed an extended network of like-minded people, some new to me others I’d previously only known via social media; I have validated and benchmarked my own thinking through shared ideas and was more than a little star struck by the calibre of speakers we heard from. The conference itself was exceptionally well run by the team at Elephant HR & Training; providing a range of learning solutions and forums from speakers through facilitation and group work.

It’s thought to be a world first that as we were closing off the NZ conference each day, there was a UK contingent kicking off the beginning of their day. Simultaneous conferences, running concurrently – both with the aim of facing the future of HR, and changing the path as we know it. And both with group members tweeting and sharing the conference content in real time. Sharing so much in fact, that in NZ the hashtag #hrgcnz, was trending in the number two spot, vying for attention against the election and the Joan Rivers tragedy.

The conference concluded with the announcement of a new HR Institute for NZ – CHRI; the Chartered Human Resources Institute. Limited details at this point as to what it means for HR in NZ, but if the conference is anything to go by, I for one am excited to see what comes next.

My main takeaways from the conference are summarised under the three headings below:

 Change the game
To be game changing you must first seek to fully understand the game you’re in, from an industry, company and team perspective. Use technology such as the likes of social media for internal communications, building team culture, development of staff and recruitment; also as an avenue for leaders and CEO’s to connect with those on the shop floor. Create environments for staff to experiment and advocate right practice, forgetting best practice. Stop doing what you don’t need to and instead link up with what the business is trying to achieve and work to add value through collaboration. Hold yourself accountable, constantly ask why of yourself, others and procedures. Stop worrying about minimising risk and instead look to maximising potential. Get rid of anything that doesn’t add value or change the game.

“Celebrate when it changes something, not because you build it” Fiona Michel, NZ Police

Blaze your own trail
Take opportunities, grow, evolve, reinvent yourself and your organisational practices – embrace and drive change. Continuously look forward and focus on developing yourself, challenge and disrupt to create and enable transformation. Lead, don’t serve. Stop worrying about not being at the top table or otherwise, deliver, deliver, deliver and the results will follow. Spend time outside HR, get out of your comfort zone and establish a fundamental knowledge of the business values, goals and strategy. Think like a business leader. Seek innovation, get over yourself and stop naval gazing.

“Become infamous, not irrelevant” – Jan Bibby, Vodafone

Make people smile
Bring in fun; find ways to introduce fun through low and zero cost means to engage employees and create employee champions. Ask staff what rewards matter to them, and similarly in all dealings ask yourself what’s in it for them, and focus on delivering this. Showcase great experiences and results, after all culture drives performance. Encourage diversity and work to break down segmentations. Communication is key, so find new and innovative ways for HR and leaders to stay in touch with the people in the business.

“Make people’s lives better” – Nigel Latta

social media???!

Full credit for the idea/thinking behind this blog must go to Julie Drybrough founder of Fuschia Blue and her blog post Getting Over the Social Media Wall , though credit definitely also lies with Helen Bunden (@Activatelearn) for her response.

I was once one of those blissfully unaware of social media, and therefore on the other side of the wall. I remember once a previous manager of mine commenting that she followed a bunch of HR type folk on twitter that I might be interested in – clearly assuming I knew what she was talking about! At the time I was curious enough to login to twitter to see what it was all about, but finding it daunting and confusing and downright odd I didn’t last long.

My second step into twitter was for wholly different reasons. I’m a yachty, the America’s Cup was on. Simple as that. I discovered I could get better quality, more up to date information via twitter than any other source. However, this still saw me only as a watcher, not an activate participator…more on this later.

At some point in the following six months or so I guess I got more curious. At one point I do remember thinking I was all over “Bebo” when it was the in thing, I have a facebook page I post on with reasonable regularity, so why not twitter, google+, pinterest and the like. I think a lot of it also had to do with being brought onto a project team at work from a people and change perspective to partner with Google to sell AdWords. I was seriously the odd one out. This team was run via google hangouts, they spoke a completely different language to me and at this point it didn’t take long til I wanted to know all about it and realised they were on to something I was completely missing out on.

Embarrassingly I even remember saying during this time that as I was in HR I didn’t need to learn about social media as the two had nothing to do with each and I never saw their paths crossing. How wrong I was! And less than a year ago!

I wrote my first tweet on April 27, 2014. Very late in the piece. But from this point I was hooked. The possibilities, the learning’s, the connections are incomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced. I would go so far now as to say I learnt as much, if not more in five months than I did in three years completing a double degree at university in HR and Management. I reasonably quickly expanded from twitter to google+, have dabbled in pinterest, massively expanded my LinkedIn and, as you’ll know through reading this, started blogging. I’m a constant learner, a constant chaser of knowledge to both challenge and further develop myself, my knowledge, my thinking and my experiences. No longer do I restrict myself to books and scholarly articles/journals – there’s a whole world of learning and collaboration out there just waiting for people like me. I can’t speak highly enough. I’ve encouraged friends and colleagues, campaigned and won to start social media pages for my company in terms of showcasing us for recruitment and generally sung it’s praises to anyone who will listen. One thing I know when I do – they won’t regret giving it a try. I may have had a few false starts, and I’m upfront about this, but I think when I was ready it clicked. And this is where I’m encountering passive, not active players in SoMe.  As mentioned above for the America’s Cup I read tweets and that’s all. I’ve spoken to a lot of people of late who do the same; “ghosting” on social media – reading, taking in and learning from, without actively participating. I hope this is their first step. That at some point they’ll feel confident enough to interact. But I’m happy for now that they’re there, gaining what they feel comfortable gaining from all that is out there on offer.

At this point I get a little thrill when my blog posts are retweeted and +1’d, I’m amazed, proud and humbled by how many people now read my blog (thank you!). Better still for me is being recognised by people who are far more experienced than I, both in HR and SoMe, who I look up to as ‘heros’ when they recognise the work I’m doing, and also the interaction with these people is invaluable. I now connect on a daily basis with others who equally love HR and its intricacies as much as I, from all corners of the globe. I regularly participate in hangouts and twitter chats and I’m happy to report I’ve even met a few of the fabulous social media folk I know in real life. I look forward to meeting a whole host more at the HR Game Changer conference in Auckland next month – something else I have to credit SoMe for. First for introducing me to the people behind the conference, secondly for the fact I guarantee I wouldn’t know about it if not for SoMe and thirdly for the help I got through SoMe in gaining sign off for the conference in the form of a business case to put to my manager.

 I’m indebted to these people who teach me, challenge me and support me in my career and development everyday – thank you. To those of you out there who may be reading this, but not engaging with the rest of us in the social media sphere, give it a shot, you won’t regret it and you’ll gain so much more. To the folk like my Dad – or those who know them because they don’t even have email and have yet to learn to text, help them. Get them started. Show them how simple and easy it can be. I’m into HR and yachting (and a bit more than that), but I’ve found whole new worlds of people who like the things I do – so I have no doubt we all will. Get into it. Get involved with social media. Get over the wall.

HR Blonde

My take on the current (April 2014) Blondes in HR debate…

I like to think that I am young (33 at present!), I am blonde and I work in HR. And I have been fascinated this month by the blogs of people I view as both my peers and teachers….peers, as we all work in HR; teachers, because I have actively read, followed and learnt from these peoples’ social media for some time now, be it blogs, twitter, google+, the list goes on…and hopefully in the not too distant future I will meet these people.

It began with Richard Westney (@HRmanNZ)  and Angela Atkinson (@angelaatkins) who collaborated on a post ‘CEOs prefer Blondes’ (, which touched on NZ CEO’s preference for HR Managers who were essentially “yes men” who wouldn’t challenge the status quo, or future plans and kept records neat and up to date. Angela backed this up with research on the CEO’s including their education, previous experience and among other things, gender in her blog ‘How Many NZ CEOs Have Worked in HR?’ ( Notably, it pays to be male, have an accountancy or engineering degree and have stuck with one industry.

Amanda Sterling (@sterling_amanda) responded with her blog ‘Just Because I’m Young, Quiet and Blonde Doesn’t Mean I’m Stupid’ ( with some great examples of stereotyping her as young, blonde and dumb. One of the best responses (in my opinion!) was David D’Souza’s (@dds180)  ‘The Sexy Women of HR’  (,  was both incredibly funny and incredibly honest at the same time and sparked a whole new debate that is fully worth the read of the comments at the end!

My two cents worth encompasses both angles and potentially a new one. I am young (again – ish!), blonde and in HR…but I owe that to one man who undoubtedly hired me for the reasons the original blog describes. However, the flip side for me is that he also had the confidence in my abilities to shift me from a completely different role and angle of business from what my experience to date would have dictated. Best thing that ever happened to me. HR became my ‘thing’ from there on in. The new role inspired me. I worked harder. I studied. A lot. And made it my business to learn all I could to know about this new avenue.

Years later and in some ways like those CEO’s I remain in the industry where I began, but with a new role. That gives me the edge in a lot of ways. I know how the staff work. I know the profiles that work in the various roles. I know the ins and outs of the system and after all this time I have both the experience and education to back everything up.

On the flip side, it is an old company in an old industry. One where we are desperately in need of breaking new ground – and this is happening both around me, with me and because of me – not that I can take all the credit of course! But I am doing my damnedest to ensure they move with the times. And because I am young (ish!), blonde and in HR – I find I hit roadblocks, and am not taken always taken seriously.

I don’t have the assets David D’Souza mentions (though there are plenty of them in the office!);  I’m not the quiet, young blonde Amanda Sterling describes, as I need to get my point across to push, pull or drag us into the new millennium; I’m not as green as Angela Atkins and Richard Westney describe…yet I face a different battle. Parts of the organisation ensure I’m in every meeting and place value on my input, parts view me as “the young, dumb, blonde”, and parts still don’t know exactly what my role is. Yet I have first-hand experience in most of their roles, and having transitioned to HR from sales, I have both the theory and the practice from both camps. And yet it can still be a daily struggle, or a daily triumph depending on who I’m dealing with. But isn’t that HR? Aren’t we there for both the business and the employees? And if it was all easy every day, wouldn’t we be bored? What would we strive for then?

Whilst like most people I’ve love more recognition for the work I do, and more credit for both my knowledge and ability, I believe in some ways this is the lot of HR. We may never be the rock star sales person or the like, but we can be and are the backbone of an organisation. We’re essential to the running of every department if we choose to make ourselves so, and the more we know about their business the better and vice versa. Make yourself essential, make yourself a ‘go-to’ and indispensable, learn your craft and earn your seat at the top table. For your ability, not your youth, hair colour and amenability…and hopefully not for your assets – noteworthy or otherwise!