autism interviews

Q&A At Kira – Gabi Anderson, HR Manager

Q&A At Kira – Gabi Anderson, HR Manager

Gabi Anderson joined Kira Community Services in 2018, bringing with her over 15 years’ experience in Human Resource (HR) Management and Business Development.

Gabi’s career has taken her all over the world, working in a variety of industries from hospitality, events, entertainment, retail, media and manufacturing.

Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and a PhD in Metaphysical Science specialising in Psychology to compliment her work in HR, Gabi is passionate about supporting people with disability and ensuring that everyone reaches their full potential.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gabi to find out more about her role as Kira’s new HR Manager.

Tell me about your role as the HR Manager for Kira.

I’ve been with Kira for three weeks, having recently joined the organisation. My responsibilities range from managing the recruitment process through to performance management.

Why did you embark on a career in HR?

I chose HR because I like to interact with people. I was never one to come to work and sit alone in an office with the door shut. I enjoy communicating and interacting with staff.

Does having a PhD in Metaphysical Science specialising in Psychology help you in your role?

Yes, that’s why I began studying in the first instance. I felt that by having this degree it would strengthen my position as a HR Manager. Working in the HR sector, this degree is vital when it comes to dealing with people in any given situation. If, for example, I had to deliver feedback of a negative nature, I can gauge how that person will react and which ‘voice’ I need to use so they can fully comprehend the information I’ve been tasked with delivering to them.

Do you think your role has changed since the NDIS has rolled out?

Yes, it is completely different.

As the NDIS has now rolled out across WA, we have to be in line with the rest of Australia when it comes to being informed about the NDIS. As Kira’s HR Manager, my role is to be the go-to person for the team as we move into the new national scheme, assessing and addressing what needs to be implemented and in what areas.

My role is to support the team as they encounter any barriers and challenges, and to make sure that we, as an organisation, are fully compliant as the NDIS comes into full effect.

Transferring to the NDIS is challenging for any organisation. What do you feel will be the biggest issues you face in the sector?

As the NDIS rolls out, we play a critical role when it comes to delivering high quality, person-centred support and helping participants to achieve their outcomes.

At Kira, my job, along with other key players working within the organisation, is assisting our members in maximising their choice and control when it comes to selecting Kira as their service provider.

As an organisation, we hope to continue building strong linkages with our members as well as their families, and we look towards the wider community for their continued support to help achieve and maintain our role within the disability community.

Having worked in Europe, Asia and now Australia, are there any fundamental differences in how other countries and their HR departments work with each countries disability framework?

Yes, very much so. Australia has a lot of rules whereas Europe is more relaxed.

In Australia, the NDIS framework is very strict and cannot be bypassed. Within Europe, they see the rules surrounding their version of the NDIS mores as recommendations or guidelines. In Asia, the NDIS isn’t that great and could be improved with better funding.

How do you make sure you have a clear understanding of the needs of your members and staff living a disability?

It comes with time.

I need to get to know, learn and engage with each staff member. If, for example, I recruited a person with autism and they needed to have certain conditions to help them work in the organisation, I would be the person they would work with to get those conditions put into place. This doesn’t mean they are any less able to perform to the best of their ability, it’s just that to achieve this outcome we need to work with them and not against them. And as an organisation, this forms part of Kira’s key values.

Why did you want to work for a Not for Profit (NFP)?

Having previously worked in the retail and hospitality sector, I felt that by being employed by a NFP organisation I could make a real difference. Working at Kira, I am able to engage on a more personal level with the staff and members.

In my last role as a HR manager, I looked after 200 people. My issue with having 200 members of staff working under me was that I wasn’t able to be as engaged as I would have liked. Now, working at Kira where there are 55 staff members, I can see what motivates each team member, as well as what drives them and what they are passionate about. I can also engage with them more.

Do you find your job rewarding?

My motto is; “Be where you are appreciated, be where you want to be and be your best self”. Working for Kira, I feel rewarded as I get to be a part of an organisation that holds the same key beliefs and values as I do. I also feel rewarded with the knowledge that I am part of a prominent disability service provider.

Be where you are appreciated, be where you want to be and be your best self.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a HR Manager?

I’d probably be a race car driver! My mother worked for Formula One as Head of Telecommunications. For fifteen years her role was to ensure that the drivers could effectively communicate to each other.

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend time with my family, enjoy dining out and watching movies. We also love to travel as a family – I have a bucket list of places I would love to travel too, including New York, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi.

About Nick McAllister: Nick McAllister is a Writer, Author, Autism Advocate, Blogger and Mentor who was diagnosed with autism in his 40’s. You can read more from Nick over on his blog here.

Nick’s book, “Autistic Reflections” is available for download via Kindle here and in paperback here.