Special Delivery – Rebecca Houghton on VUCA and Australia Post

Trevor VasTrevor Vas here, I am with Rebecca Houghton, recruitment director from Australia Post. We are in the urban deli so you’ll hear a few noises and trams going past.
How are you Rebecca?
rebecca houghton
Great Thank you Trevor
Trevor Vas Rebecca thank you so much for agreeing to answer these insightful questions I’ve created, I’d like to start with a personal one, just so people can get to know you better. What is the finest bottle of red wine that you and your husband have ever consumed?
rebecca houghton Obviously Trevor does know me very well to ask me the wine question! I am going to surprise you, it’s not a bottle of red it was a bottle of Cristal, which I enjoyed at an amazing hotel in Spain where we were eating with one of the best restaurateurs in Europe. I’d never had Cristal before, and it is just as great as they make it out to be! Cracking Champagne!
Trevor Vas I’ve never had one! Rebecca I’ve known you for a long time, you have one of the most high profile talent management positions in Australia, what is it in your career that’s enabled you to win and undertake this position? What have been the key things that have positioned you to do this job?
rebecca houghtonCertainly my experience across Europe, I was in Europe for about 10 years where I was a head hunter that was an incredibly useful experience in terms of understanding strategic context. When I came to Australia I became a little bit of a generalist. My first gig at BUPA was an incredible precursor for getting this opportunity. There’s absolutely no rocket science to it though, I’ll be really frank both the job at BUPA and the job at Australia Post was suggested to me by friends. Like all female executives, I went through the whole cycle of “no way! I couldn’t do that! That’s an enormous job! They wouldn’t look at me twice.” So I would probably say the secret is my network.
Trevor Vas Rebecca I think you’ve got amazing influencing skills, and I think that if I look at some of the key leaders in Australian recruitment – yourself, James Elliot. You have that capability in common. Are you aware of your influencing skills? And do you cultivate them?
rebecca houghton I would probably give you a twofold answer. One, I think in my earlier career I was aware of my influencing skills, in a kind of a stage presence/on stage executive presence way. In my later career the thing I’ve learnt is that I influence best through others. So, I am on stage a lot less now. But I have maybe 10 people on 10 stages at the same time for me instead, that’s been a massive learning for me.
Trevor Vas Given the challenge of Australia Post, with the changing nature of its business, where do you focus the teams in your efforts to create impact and create the best results?
rebecca houghton For us the agenda is reasonably clear despite the fact that the change in our landscape, the change in our organisation, and the general uncertainty that is modern life, makes it really difficult to know absolutely where you’re going for the next 3-5 years. For us however it is reasonably polarising, so we have our front line people to protect as we go through our letters reform. We are doing that through our “Post People 1st” program. Then we have our e-commerce future to really establish and build, and we’re doing that through our Talent Acquisition team.
Trevor Vas Well done! Rebecca, you know that I think you’ve got an amazing job. You’ve got both recruitment and organisational development, and also some training. You’re doing a true talent management role; many people are aspiring to get in that type of position. What would you advise them to do? Many internal recruiters want to emulate your career path!
rebecca houghtonFirst of all I don’t actually own all of those functions, and that is a really important distinction and a much more modern way of working. The program that we put together which is “Post People 1st” is really lead by me but it is a collaborative effort with learning and development, our re-deployment function, our talent function, and our recruitment function. I’d say to anybody who is really looking at something like this, don’t worry about who owns it from a functional perspective, worry about who ‘owns it’ from a strategic and influencing perspective. Everybody knows that “Post People 1st” is my brain child, and that I’ve driven it to where it is. The challenge and the opportunity has been how do we work together truly collaboratively. Not just work alongside each other, but work within each other to achieve that strategic goal. That’s been a very modern way of working inside Australia Post.
Trevor Vas Where do you see the internal recruitment industry heading with RPO, with technology, automation and everything? It seems to be coming together with volatility and a lot of innovation. In two years’ time what will it be like? Paint me a picture.
rebecca houghtonI would love to say 90% robotised! I don’t know whether it will be in two years, but I think that within five years and for sure within ten. Our consumers, our candidates who are consumers, they don’t want to engage with you until they’ve assessed and selected you. Therefore I think that kind of level of self service and self-determination means that we need to engage with them in a smarter, more digital, more self-determined way. Which means that you don’t talk to a recruiter until you’re good and ready, and that means technology.
Trevor Vas Last question and I want this to be hard one. I am sure you’ll be able to answer this really quickly – if you had your time over, what is the one thing that you would change dramatically about your career or your profession? The answer could be nothing.
rebecca houghton You know me too well, I am not that arrogant! I think I would’ve made more of a concerted effort to become an in house leader earlier in my career. I have only been in house for six years. Probably the other thing that I would have done is more of a personal piece. I think I would’ve tried to achieve a better work life balance during that time. It is still a constant balancing act between my family and my career.
Trevor Vas Rebecca I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time, I know you’re very busy and you’ve got a meeting to rush to, but this has been really informative for me and I am so pleased! I am going to blow you a kiss!
rebecca houghton Thank you Trevor, that was fun!

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2 Responses to “Special Delivery – Rebecca Houghton on VUCA and Australia Post”

  1. Hazel Walker

    Thanks Rebecca, couldn’t agree more with regard to candidates assessing the recruiter as much as the recruiter assesses the candidate.

  2. Hazel Walker

    Thanks Rebecca, couldn’t agree more with regard to candidates assessing the recruiter as much as the recruiter assesses the candidate.


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