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Emma Catto APHRNZ

What led you to a career in HR/ the position that you are in currently?

Entering university without a clear direction and being the first in my family to pursue higher education, I found myself navigating through a trial and error environment. With a background in youth development as a commissioned officer in the New Zealand Cadet Forces and experience conducting on-the-job training in the Events Industry, I discovered immense satisfaction in working with individuals to refine their skills and expand their knowledge. Despite this, I initially had no interest in pursuing a career in teaching.

During my pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, I decided to explore management papers for fun. I stumbled upon Human Resources (HR) and realised my passion for it. A lightbulb moment occurred, and I knew this was where I belonged. Building on this realisation, I went on to complete an additional Bachelor of Commerce in HRM and Management, and later pursued a Masters of Commerce with a focus on researching Green Training and Development within NZX Listed organizations, aligning with my deep-rooted passion for sustainability.

Following a stint in a sustainability role in the educational tourism sector, I moved into my current role at PwC as a Workforce Consultant. This role offers me the flexibility to engage with various components of HR and people transformation, while also allowing me to integrate sustainability components, particularly those related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. This role not only aligns with my academic background but also enables me to contribute meaningfully to areas I am passionate about.

What do you love about working in HR?

I'm hugely passionate about supporting people in professional growth and unlocking untapped potential. Whenever I get the chance to facilitate training sessions, drive capability uplift, or contribute to strategic development programs that emphasise a people-centric approach, it's incredibly fulfilling for me. It's a level of satisfaction that other aspects of the business world just don't match.

What is an achievement so far in your career that you are proud of?

Completing my Master of Commerce was a significant achievement that I am proud of. Personally, I faced challenges in school, and discovering a topic I'm truly passionate about played a crucial role in unlocking my potential and boosting my confidence in this field. The skills I gained during this course of study are not only applied practically, but I also draw on my research findings, allowing me to connect with others who share similar interests in a more meaningful and valuable way.

What are your thoughts on the Emerging Professional Member process?

The process was a lot easier and straightforward than I thought it would be! It provides a great opportunity for emerging HR professionals to engage with the HR community in their regions, and reflect on their learnings and experiences thus far.

What are your next steps in terms of your career?

Currently, I'm actively involved in various projects within the workforce and people domain. Moving forward, my focus is on pushing boundaries and exploring avenues for the integration of ESG and sustainability, along with incorporating a Te Ao Māori worldview, within the HR function. Additionally, I aim to extend the consideration of people-centric factors into other areas of the business transformation to encourage more sustainable change.