Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Chief People Officer

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

Looking for your dream start-up role? Sign up for the latest career opportunities with The Nudge Group!

Marcus Waterreus, Chief People & Culture Officer at Openpay

Marcus Waterreus is the Chief People & Culture Officer at Openpay, a Melbourne-based ‘buy now, pay later” provider, available in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. 

Each day is usually very different; however, most days begin with the morning commute of a 30-minute walk, which allows me to start planning my day as I would if driving into the city. Living in Windsor has its perks, with no shortage of good coffee resulting in a daily pit-stop before getting into work.

The workday often starts with a virtual team stand up so we can talk through the day’s plans, discuss any upcoming initiatives or events, and have a general check-in on my team’s welfare during the Melbourne lockdown.

This week I had a two-hour meeting with our Head of Innovation to work through details on a new and exciting project we are launching. During the afternoon, I like to block out time to concentrate on our strategic initiatives. My current focus is on developing an organisational culture program and building out our current reward and recognition offering.

I also met with my Learning Specialist to walk through some eLearning modules which are in development for our team. As we are growing rapidly, I often have calls with our recruitment lead for progress updates and to talk through any challenges or opportunities for targeting specific candidates.

One initiative we introduced at the beginning of the first lockdown was regular Wellbeing Calls. Both myself and my team will spend time touching base with employees from across the business for a virtual check-in – now the weather is warming up we use these calls as an opportunity for a Wellbeing Walk. It’s a nice way to encourage the team to take a break and enjoy some fresh air.

To end the day on a high note, I usually like to do something positive – today that was calling a team member who’s been with us for two years to offer her the role she applied for. It’s important that we can provide our team with opportunities for growth and to develop new skills, so we advertise each role internally and have recently set targets around internal mobility.

As we have a global team, most nights involve meetings with our UK office. However, when possible, my evenings are spent with a glass of Pinot and the company of my husband and our two Daschunds, Baxter and Finn.

Diana Nadebaum, Chief People Officer at Opteon

Diana Nadebaum is the Chief People Officer at Opteon, an international provider of independent property valuation, advisory and specialist property services in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

As the Chief People Officer, my role is extremely varied. Largely I work with the CEO and senior leadership team on a number of key strategic initiatives, which include:

  • Talent and performance- we have recently launched a new performance framework
  • Mergers & acquisitions, where I am part of the Investment Committee, recently undertaking due diligence for a potential US acquisition
  • Health, safety and wellbeing, which is a key priority for Opteon
  • We are currently launching a new Human Capital Management system (Workday HCM) and I am leading this program of work

I have to say that I largely spend my day in meetings, with the senior leadership team or with my own team. Which does mean I often find myself spending evenings catching up on work. I don’t mind doing this, as long as I have flexibility to go home at a good time to see my family and I don’t have to work on weekends.

Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero

Alex Hattingh is the Chief People Officer at Employment Hero, Australia’s first and leading all-in-one cloud HR, benefits and payroll platform.

My days are never dull and certainly never predictable!

First of all, it has taken me years to learn this one: I do not check emails or Slack before work.

This goes for pre-COVID, and now, remote working. Finding a good routine of getting ready first is much better. Checking your phone for emails and Slack messages just starts your day in a frantic manner. Focusing on yourself, and getting ready first sets you up to have a great day.

Today, I started with an update from my LinkedIn feed for industry news, and to check-in on any overnight in-mails, or follow-ups on passive talent searches. 

I like to start my day over coffee with my LinkedIn feed. It’s a reminder of why I do what I do; how much I love it and how obsessed I am with people, culture and my industry!

Next is a calendar review. Are there any meetings I need to move? Any I need to prepare for? Any conflicts?

I then do a quick review of my emails. I have learned over the years not to become obsessed by my inbox. You have to focus on the high impact output you can do. If something is important enough, someone will call or set-up a meeting.

Our People and Culture team ‘morning stand-up’ is next. I love seeing my team; hearing how they are; talking about our day ahead; celebrating any wins; talking through barriers and occasionally, talking through not feeling great personally with everything that is going on. 

I am so fortunate to have an incredibly talented team who are so committed to creating a better world at work for all of us. This meeting and my team is a real uplifter to my spirits.

This meeting is followed by our ‘leadership stand-up.’ Again, talking about any updates or issues that need addressing from our earlier team stand-ups. Also, focusing on the strategic needs of the business; preparing for our weekly meeting; and discussing employee concerns and how we can address them.

I have regular one-on-one meetings throughout the day to support our managers.

I use Slack for messaging, so I’ll check that for any troubleshooting issues, as well as responding to our people’s needs, asks and questions, as well as coaching and concerns.

I then have a couple of final interviews for crucial roles, followed by approvals with my CFO as we invest in strategic initiatives.

Then come the transactional tasks, such as completing off-boarding for an employee who has resigned; assessing some support options for strategic initiatives we are completing, like workforce planning to support these projects; and some transactional immigration needs.

I also welcomed three new starters after my team completed an incredible virtual induction and on-boarding session.

To end the day, I look over tomorrow’s calendar to make sure I don’t need to reschedule any conflicts, and assess any meetings I need to prepare for.

In my own head, I’m thanking my lucky stars for my amazing team and everything they do on any given day – which just reminded me I need to actually thank them. Which I just did! Through Slack given it’s the end of the day – I always strive to make my team feel recognised and appreciated.

Jacqui Bradler, Chief People Officer at Bondi Sands

Jacqui Bradler is the Chief People Officer at Bondi Sands, where she manages the people strategy and operations for a team of 50 across three continents.

My typical day is extremely fast-paced and varied as the sole HR person within the business. Today I interviewed a number of candidates for a role in our American team, completed some reference checks, researched some new benefits, wrote a job advertisement, provided contract advice, and delivered internal training on our new online performance review system – it was a big day (even squeezed in a lunch break).

Katie Amin, Senior Manager, Human Resources, APAC at Skillsoft

Katie Amin is the Senior Manager, Human Resources, APAC at Skillsoft, an e-learning company offering content across business, IT, leadership, managing and more courses. 

Now, more than ever, this is an ideal time for everyone to look inward and take the opportunity to grow and evolve both personally and professionally. After all, aren’t we all the CEOs of our own lives? 

Since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve taken a moment to pause and reflect on my life, articulating my goals and deepest desires to create my own growth strategy. Taking on a growth mindset, I am aware that I need to adapt to the new world and change the way I work and think.

I’ve started to focus more on me and how I manage my 1,440 minutes a day. I enjoy waking up at 5:30am every morning so that I have the first hour of the day all to myself. 

Having moved to Melbourne two years ago, I am fortunate enough to live in a luxurious apartment with what could be described as the best view of Melbourne. This makes practicing gratitude, visualisation and saying affirmations each morning whilst watching the sun rise so much more joyful. 

I follow this hour by my favourite part of the day, an hour of exercise or walk alongside the Yarra River. It is in this hour that I experience solitude, a time of day where I can reconnect with my heart and core, allowing me to daydream.

It is only after this “me time” that I am ready to face the day. Having a busy household, my mornings are a mixture of attending to early morning calls with business leaders from the US and preparing my kids for their day. 

My schedule for the day is usually pre-set within my calendar and with a quick review of what the day has in store for me, I lock in any final changes and I begin my day.

I spend time checking in on individual team members and team and attending to cross-functional business calls to maintain a pulse on the business and oversight into business requirements and employee needs. 

I have always maintained a strong alliance with other business units within my remit focusing on interrelated relationships, collaboration, and productivity. 

Especially since the start of the pandemic I see an amplified need for an increased level of engagement, support and cross collaboration between team members. I am also mindful to allocate time to focus on local and global matters, projects and initiatives.

Furthermore, I take great pride in supporting a ‘People First’ culture creating a culture where the team feel that they are well informed, heard and well taken care of, noting that their physical and mental health as well as wellbeing, especially at this time, is my number one priority. 

As such we have prioritised rolling out initiatives which take the whole person into consideration. I believe that if we take good care of our team members and appreciate and strive to understands each employees’ circumstances, they will in return replicate such caring behaviour and support with each other, our customers and business.

Sarah Gatehouse, Head of People & Culture at Fujitsu General ANZ

Sarah Gatehouse is the Head of People & Culture at Fujitsu General ANZ, one of the leading suppliers of air conditioning to the residential and commercial markets.

A strong advocate in exercise for wellbeing, I am up at 4.30am and on the go until I collapse hopefully around 9.30pm. 

I spend a lot of my workday consulting others and I have more recently transitioned from the Senior Leadership Team to the Executive Team. My role is changing to engage strategically with our General Managers working together to facilitate general business growth and improvement. 

We are building our agile workplace, cross mentoring team members and having all levels of our business contribute to projects. I have been heading up our COVID-19 response and we are planning to prepare our team for the future of our workplace.

Lynnette Edmonds, People & Culture Director at Edelman

Lynnette Edmonds is the HR Director at global PR firm Edelman, where she heads up the People and Culture function for Edelman Australia including the Sydney and Melbourne offices. 

It really is a case of no two days are the same when it comes to agency life, and I love that! COVID has obviously taken that even further and spun “normality” (such as it was) on its head. 

My role over the past four months has changed quite dramatically – especially since we have been working from home since March and only just starting to bring employees back into the office.

A typical day now is getting up around 6.45am with a quick cup of tea, followed by a walk or possibly a yoga session, around getting kids off to school (my youngest are 16-year-old twin boys approaching HSC who leave the house around 7.30am) and having a healthy breakfast. 

I try not to check emails until 8.00 and most days have a meeting at 9am (via teams or zoom) when I have my first coffee and settle into the home office.

The day is a series of calls/meetings and working on a number of different projects from refining policies and plans (e.g.: parental leave, flexible working policies, return to office plans) to sorting out resourcing challenges, designing training programs, employee engagement initiatives and loads of general admin. 

I tend to take a break around 1ish when I grab the dog and walk to the local café to grab a coffee and maybe a wrap or salad if I don’t end up making something at home. 

The afternoon flies by with more calls/meetings/admin and a peppermint tea break around 4pm. I try and get to the gym for either a 6pm or 6.45pm spin or HIIT class at least three nights a week plus Saturdays. I’ve also just taken up Zumba which I love. 

I tend to do a bit of work catchup a few evenings a week, but that’s my choice and is because I choose to get exercise into my day in a way that works for me.

Learn how the most successful leaders, artists, founders, executives, writers and athletes structure and manage their days. Sign up and stay up to date!

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.