Home' HR Monthly : December 2017 Contents December/January 2018 HRM magazine 41
time. But I couldn’t talk and It was a harrowing
“The doctors think that what happened to me
was a catastrophic combination of events that
were triggered by the bug and the autoimmune
disorder. A nurse who had treated me in
emergency came to see me and it wasn’t until my
mother came in to visit that she realised we used
to be neighbours and it was me that had nearly
died – and she burst out crying. The doctors
thought it was the most amazing recovery ever.
Day 24, I walked out of the hospital and two
weeks later my son turned one.
“August [the month I was in hospital] in ou r
family is still really difficult, and if any of us get
sick it is nerve-wracking. Thankfully, I have gone
on to have two more children, but I’ve suffered
with long-term effects of steroids, including
breaking my foot three times, temporary
diabetes and weight gain.
“The impact of the illness on my career has
been profound. When I returned, I told the
Deputy Secretary I wanted to go back to HR.
This is about me owning my life for the future
– however long I’ve got. A week later he rang to
say there was a role and, needless to say, I took
it. I was heavily pregnant with my second child,
but the branch manager told me: ‘You have made
more of a contribution in six weeks than I would
normally see in a year’.”
Since then, McLachlan hasn’t looked back,
finding her niche and thriving in her H R career.
“I love seeing results with employees, I love
working with executives. Even though HR is
undervalued sometimes, I never tire of ensuring
that our department achieves its objectives,
and that our workforce want to be here, are
supported and are passionate about achieving
“Those long, lonely nights in intensive care
gave me more of a perspective about valuing
my career choice in HR. Everything in my life
took on new meaning. So when the idea of
certification passed across my desk, it was a
light-bulb moment – it came at such a critical
time for me. It cemented the belief that HR is
my vocation – that it is where I want to make a
difference and empower people to make a great
contribution themselves. By investing in HR
professionals like me, we can demonstrate what
we can bring back into the business.
“At the same time as studying for certification,
I found a new doctor, the amazing head of
immunology at Canberra hospital, and began a
new treatment. Before then nothing had worked.
My bone density was akin to a 60 -year-old, and
I had severe migraines from other treatments.
Within six months of the therapy, I’d lost 30
kilos and my bone density was normal. I had to
be wary of infection, but I felt I had been given
another chance at life.
“I was truthfully very unwell when I started
the certification program part-time, but I have
never wanted to let this disease own me. What
helped is that our group formed a bond so
quickly and that contributed to my increasing
good health. Kim Schofield, the national
manager, certification, at AHRI, was a great
help, as was my sponsor at work. I looked
forward to all the assignments and using the
work-based reports to affect real and amazing
change in the department.
“Fast-forward 15 months and it’s all going
fairly well. I feel like I belong to a community
of like-minded professionals committed to
workforce reform. Work is more enjoyable and
my team are benefitting from my invigoration
and are keen to know more about AHRI and
the professionlisation of HR. We feel a passion
for ou r shared vocation. My health is now
cooperating and I have this wonderful refresh to
my career – I can’t ask for anything more.” •••
McLachlan’s certification capstone project
demonstrated significant retur n on investment
to the Department of Social Services.
As a result she won the 2017 Ram Charan
AHRI Practising Cer tification Award at the
AHRI Awards last month for her contribution
to organisational capability.
Catherine McLachlan, CPHR, on her
wedding day, right. McLachlan
was diagnosed with a rare
autoimmune disorder at 19.
“What helped is
that our group
formed a bond
so quickly and
to my increasing
START YOUR HR
JOURNEY IN 2018
Make an impact on your career and organisation
by building your HR capability and achieving HR
certification via the AHRI Practising Certification
Program. Enrolments for the January 2018 intake
close 13 December.
23/11/17 4:43 pm
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