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Alicia Garner - Head of People Operations

To help celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re interviewing several of CIM’s senior women to get their thoughts on International Women’s Day, the advice they would give to other women, their role at CIM and more! Today, it’s our Head of People Operations – Alicia Garner.

Tell us about your role?

Being a start up we don’t have a lot of people policies and processes in place. My role is to set the strategy for the People and Culture function and create a structure of policies and processes that support and enable our team while nurturing our culture. As part of this I work with our leaders to plan resourcing & develop a talent strategy.

Tell us a little about you?

I grew up in Australia but spent 10 years through my 20’s living in London and exploring Europe. I love to travel and I’ve been to about 40 countries so far. I’m currently doing a degree in Psychological Sciences at UNSW. My career started out in administration but my interest in people and human behaviour led me to pursue a career in People & Culture.

What does International Women’s day mean to you?

A lot of gender biases go undetected and untreated. IWD brings these biases to the forefront and encourages people/companies to make conscious decisions and commitments to remove gender bias in the workplace.

How can we support women in tech more widely?

We can continue to build out a network of mentors and sponsors for women in tech. People who can provide career guidance, coach them and give them feedback on their decision making and help develop their skills. Mentors and sponsors can also help women build out their network, and connect them with opportunities to grow and develop their career.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to women looking to take the next step in their career?

Find a way to do the job you want. What I mean by that is, if you are striving for a promotion, start working at the level you want to progress to. Offer to take on additional responsibilities, be proactive and speak to your manager about development opportunities to bridge the skills gap between you and your next role. Then don’t be ashamed to advocate for yourself and highlight your achievements.

What is an interesting fact about yourself?

I travelled through Central and South America by myself for 4 months. It was an absolutely amazing experience, I learnt a lot about myself, some things were surprising, others not so much. Travelling by myself I met so many interesting and crazy people, more so than I think I would have if I travelled with someone.

What motivated you to join CIM?

I was originally attracted to CIM’s mission, I wanted to work for a company where sustainability is at the heart of what we do. I was also really attracted to the emphasis CIM put on wellbeing, and the support and flexibility they provide the team.

What’s your one biggest career lesson?

At the beginning of my career I don’t think I had the confidence in myself to put myself forward for opportunities. That is probably one of the biggest things that held me back early on. Once I started to believe in myself, that’s when I saw my career progressing much faster.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your position?

While the trend is shifting, there are still people out there who don’t see People & Culture as a strategic partner but more as people administrators. There will always be an aspect of admin and compliance to the function, but the shift I have seen in my careers is for People & Culture to facilitate building the best teams possible. From attracting great talent, to nurturing talent and allowing employees to thrive and evolve, to coaching managers and leaders, and to protecting and embedding the company culture.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I love to do DIY projects. Being a builder’s daughter I’ve always been around the tools. I love upcycling old furniture and doing other odd DIY projects around the house. I also love baking and decorating, trying new restaurants and going on day hikes.

What does your morning routine look like?

I wake up at 7am and the first thing I do is drink a large glass of water and stretch. As I get older, I realise how important my morning stretch is and how it sets my posture right for the day. I then try to master our new manual coffee machine. I’m yet to prove myself as a barista, but it does make a delicious cup of coffee. While I’m having my coffee, I read the news, check social media and do the Wordle for the day. At about 8:30am I jump on my scooter & head into the office for a 9am start. On the mornings that I go to the gym, I head over for a 7:30am class then scoot straight from the gym to the office.

What does success look like to you?

Success is two fold for me, firstly it would be being in a complete state of flow. This is defined by Csikszentmihalyi as being completely immersed in what you’re doing with a balance between harnessing my skills and being sufficiently challenged. The other side to success is knowing that what I’m doing is creating value and is benefitting the organisation.