6 Questions for HR Business Partner Jess Ah Kuoi
Talofa Lava, my name is Jess Ah Kuoi and I am a Business Partner in the Culture & Performance team here at NZME. I have been at NZME for a few months and prior to this I was at PwC. NZME is fun, vibrant and I am learning something new every day! Fun facts? I have been the exact same height since I was 12 years old (a giant 1m 64 cms) and I have 52 cousins on my dad’s side.
Talk us through an average working day.
Work is super-fun and super-fast! My day can change from strategic planning to implementing a positive culture and back again. For example, we have launched our Engagement Survey which goes to all employees. In this survey, employees tell us what they want, what they don’t want and we help execute any changes. This can be anything from culture initiatives, diversity, flexibility, up-skilling, training and much more! NZME was recently Rainbow Tick certified which means we need to take into consideration Diversity & Inclusiveness in all that we do. This means organising training and challenging the business around the way we think and act. My daily tasks are always varied, unique and interesting!
What has your career path been like? How did you get here?
Uni was a blast (take me back) and where I discovered the world of HR. Ever since then I haven’t looked back. HR struck my interest, because if I'm honest, I enjoyed my lecturer and the papers were really interesting. I saw practical skills that I knew I'd be able to use in real life situations such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator, assessment centre practicals, supply chain management etc. My first "real" job out of uni was at a Law firm as an HR admin role in a small team. There, I learnt the fundamentals of HR such as recruitment, L&D, documentation and processes (e.g. payroll, contract variations and all of the generalist jazz). I then moved to PwC into a more senior role where I began coaching managers on how to create the best culture to ensure they had a high performing teams. I moved from admin to working more closely with stakeholders around talent retention, engagement, recruitment, employee cycle. And now I'm here - at NZME!
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of my job is having the ability to connect with so many different people from different walks of life and getting to know them and develop a trusting relationship. The worst is definitely the tough conversations I have to have! This can range from issues, incidents and change.
What do see your job to be like in 10 years? Thinking it evolving to keep up with the ever-changing digital trends.
HR will no doubt be disrupted by technology just like all roles in the future. I hope to see more Artificial Intelligence, so HR can work better and be more personable with employees nationally and internationally! I have a vision that AI will help our people managers educate themselves on best way to coach, mentor and deal with day to day queries - like SIRI but with empathy and logic.
What’s your WHY? What lights you up! How does this align with what you’re doing now within work and/ or outside of work?
I LOVE using my HR skills to teach and up-skill the Maori & Pasifika youth in NZ to ensure we have a more diverse workforce that reflects our population. Being half Samoan I am passionate about my people and diversifying the workforce. I believe having a workforce that reflects our population will increase problem-solving and effective client service.
With a helm of experience under your belt, what is your biggest achievement to date?
Getting a degree – for sure! Being someone who didn't enjoy school I went to uni unsure whether to pursue higher education and after three years of hard work it all worked out J!