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  • #7 in Technology
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Cat Sulicich

The roles available within HR, particularly in a large organisation such as Optus, are so varied that there is something for everyone.

What's your job about?

I currently work with the HR Senior Advisory team, who provide advice and coaching to Optus leaders across the business. Employees come to us with a broad range of concerns, including performance management issues, behavioural concerns, employee grievances and managing long term sick leave. We are also responsible for conducting workplace investigations into bullying, fraud, harassment, and whistle-blower complaints.

In my role, I speak to employees about workplace and leadership concerns, aiming to help reach a resolution. I draft emails and letters from leaders to employees, assist with implementing performance improvement plans and flexible working arrangements, and provide advice regarding policies, processes and legislation. It can at times be challenging to deal with the complex concerns that employees have within a constantly evolving organisation, but it is incredibly satisfying to problem solve a solution that also adds value to the work lives of our employees.

What's your background?

In my final years of high school, I had the opportunity to study Psychology as part of the International Baccalaureate, and it was then that I discovered my interest in the differences in people and how these contribute to relationships and communities. This interest carried on into university, and I started a double degree in Psychology and Primary Education.

I studied part time while working part time in local government Children’s Services, helping run large childcare services for the local community. The learning and development I gained through this work was invaluable, and I would not be as successful in my role now without that prior experience. Not only did it shape my professional skills, it helped me discover what I was looking for in my future career.

Ultimately, it led me to the decision to drop the teaching degree and focus on finishing my studies in Psychology. After doing an Organisational Psychology subject, I knew HR was for me, and by the end of my degree I was focused on starting my career in the field. I discovered that a career in HR combines all the things I was looking for – helping people thrive in what they do, opportunities for continuous learning and development, and constant problem solving.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! The beauty of HR is that it attracts people from all walks of life and with all sorts of backgrounds. While my Psychology degree has already been undeniably valuable to my role in consulting with employees and leaders across the business, there are others in my team who are just as (or even more) successful with commerce or legal backgrounds. What is most important is to be able to have empathy in tough situations whilst staying calm and rational in order to bring about a resolution. The roles available within HR, particularly in a large organisation such as Optus, are so varied that there is something for everyone.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about my job is getting insight into the workings of every part of the business. I speak to employees in all sorts of roles every day and seeing how they are contributing to the overall goals of the organisation is fascinating and inspiring. It is extremely rewarding being able to take a difficult situation and turn it into a positive one. Seeing how that impact contributes to the productivity and success of the business as a whole through the experience of one or a few employees makes the tough days easier.

What are the limitations of your job?

The nature of our team is that if someone has a people problem, they’re coming to us to help fix it, and this can often be quite emotionally taxing. And unfortunately, sometimes, there’s only so much you can do. You’re often stuck in the middle between an employee and a leader, trying to balance empathy for a situation and the business’ interests. Having a supportive team around you is key to managing this!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Take small steps every day – keep the big goals in mind but focusing on these too much can be overwhelming. Just make sure you are doing something little regularly to help you get to where you want to be.
  • Start thinking about what you’d like your future job to look like – reflect on what you enjoy and what would make you feel like you were succeeding in a role.
  • Talk to as many people as you can about their careers – ask them about their career journey. You’ll be amazed at the pathways that lead people to where they are today, and how the detours have enriched their careers and skillsets.