Home' HR Monthly : November 2018 Contents November 2018 HRM magazine 21
We must ignite value-based passion for work, says one of the first CEOs to
be HR certified in Australia, Heather-Jane Gray FCPHR.
BY WENDY FREW
he world is changing very quickly.
Organisations everywhere are realising
that business really is about people and
that those in charge of HR and organisational
development (OD) need to be on the ball.
Heather-Jane Gray always looks for the
good in others, and she knows that, given
the chance, most people a re kind to each
other. But after a long career in the UK’s
National Health Service, she has witnessed
how the pressure of working for a big
institution knocks people about.
Moving up the healthcare ladder, f rom
her early years as a student and registered
nurse, then as a ward sister, and eventually
as an executive director of one of London’s
la rgest teaching hospitals, King’s College,
Gray never lost her passion for the sector.
She learnt that organisations that
thrived did so in part because they gave
their staff the “breathing space” to behave
better, and she eventually decided she
could have a bigger impact on patient
care by stepping across the corridor into
“I was driven by my passion for
continuous improvement and realised it’s
about understanding what people value
and how that translates into motivation at
work – which led me to HR and OD,” says
UK-born Gray, speaking from Melbourne,
where she leads her consultancy, Synergy
Global. Established by Gray 22 years
ago, Synergy Global works in the private,
public and not-for-profit sectors to help
organisations manage change.
It wasn’t until 1996, when Gray was accepted
as a Harkness Fellow in Social Policy and OD
at UC Berkeley, in the US, that she was able to
“It is the people
side that either
gets it right
or stuffs it up,
so caring and
test her theory “that values-based leadership
and cultural change is about having more
meaningful conversations – tapping into unique
perspectives with authentic appreciation”.
During the fellowship, Gray conducted
original action-research into values-based
leadership and cultural change, working
with leading US policy experts and Fortune
100 boards and executives.
It was almost the fulcrum of her career
because she began transferring skills she
had acquired in health to other industries.
“I wanted to explore what we could lift
back into health and social care, to see
if we could harness the amazing values
people bring into the industry, but which
can get knocked out of them by the system.
I was interested in igniting people’s values-
based passion for what they did.”
A growing profession
Fast forward 20 years and what began as a
passion for health and wellbeing has become a
passion for HR/OD. Over that time, Gray has
watched the profession become a central part of
many organisations’ management teams.
HR/OD is very much a growing
profession, she says, and professionals
need credentials that are robust, measured
regularly and linked to people’s lifelong
learning and continuing professional
Some might say her long and
successful career is proof enough of her
skills, but Gray felt it was important to
undertake AHRI’s Senior Leaders Pathway
to HR certification.
“I encourage everybody to do it because
it tests your own thinking and keeps you
up to date,” says Gray, one of the first
CEOs to get certification through AHRI.
“The world is changing very quickly.
Organisations every where are realising
that it really is about people and that their
HR/OD director needs to be on the ball.
“I’ve served on many boards where
professional qualifications are essential to
protect vulnerable patients. I’ve also served
on the leadership team of the International
Coach Federation and know only too
well the damage that is done by diluting
a profession with poorly regulated,
“I believe that for all professionals to
be trusted and respected by the clients
they serve, they must be held accountable
to their professional bodies for their
credentials and CPD. This helps to
differentiate us in a crowded marketplace
of potential imposters.”
To gain certification, Gray took AHRI’s Senior
Leaders Pathway, which allows established
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