Nicki Sharpe

Nicki Sharpe

Senior People Safety & Culture Advisor, Life Without Barriers
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Nicki is a Senior HR professional in one of Australia’s leading Social Purpose organisations with experience across a range of roles in both the Corporate and Client services space. Nicki brings life to conversations, is passionate about connecting people and assisting them in reaching their potential.

A graduate from the University of Newcastle with Distinction in a Masters of Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations, Nicki was also selected to represent UoN as a delegate at the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Hong Kong. On the weekends you can find this soon to be first-time mum pursuing her other interests – Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking and anything outdoors and adventurous with her husband and pup!!

How do you manage your work/life balance?
It took me a while to get this right. When you’re starting out in your career / studying it’s natural to give that everything before realising you’ve let something else go, and for a while that’s ok – but it’s not sustainable. Here’s the formula that works for me…

Firstly, identify what ‘work/life’ balance looks like for you. For me, it’s a feeling – a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in all areas of my life… Balance. Secondly, accept that you are unable to operate at max capacity 100% of the time. A recent HBR article “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” sights extensive research highlighting the fact that the real enemy to high performance isn’t stress, rather the absence of disciplined, intermittent recovery.

With that in mind, work out the ways you recharge best and dedicate time to it! What gives you energy? For me it’s moving my body, climbing, mountain biking, dance – something challenging that requires focus, or simply being in nature, meditating or cooking.

Where do you see your industry heading and how have you positioned yourself to benefit from these changes?

The world of HR is forever changing, adapting and redefining itself in response to the needs of businesses and people around it. To position myself to benefit from these changes I constantly strive to understand the needs of the people I am supporting, as well as connect, network and attend conferences with other professionals to stay abreast of industry trends.
I also stay on top of changes to the wider industry in which I work, that currently being the social & community services sector. I think it’s important to position yourself as a lifelong learner / student of life!
Over the coming years, the social & community services sector is set to generate 1 in 4 new jobs with 10.3% year on year growth in job adverts. Life Without Barriers has its National Office in Newcastle with a variety of roles available and is growing from 7,000+ employees – it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry.

What characteristics do you think an individual needs to be successful in your profession (or in general)?

Emotional Intelligence – Workplaces are relational environments and a melting pot of different personalities, skills, strengths and emotions, this assists greatly in HR (and generally) by having the ability to be intuitive to the needs and interests of those around you and an understanding of how you best support them.
Resilience – Be adaptable, if you aren’t naturally – learn to be. Change is constant, the way you handle yourself through a period of change or challenge will set you up for every change or challenge to come!
Thirst for knowledge & connection – get out there, on the ground, and learn the ‘why’ of your organisation. Understand your product/service and learn what a day in the life of the people you are supporting looks like.

What local professionals have had a significant influence on your career and what have you learnt from them?

I am very fortunate to work within a team of inspiring HR professionals at Life Without Barriers, constantly striving for excellence in all they do, innovative, nurturing of those around them and great at building and maintaining relationships across the business. I learn so much just by watching our team operate.
Outside of work, I gain a lot from local professionals Michelle Crawford (Chief Conversationalist at Being More Human) and Heidi Alexandra Pollard (CEO at UQ Power). Both provide a connection with their work and a self-check point for me that I find so valuable for self-reflection and affirming where I am headed with my career.

What motivates and drives you?

I have realised that the way I like to work mirrors my interests and hobbies – I like a challenge with lots of mental stimuli that requires focus and collaboration. I also like to share these experiences and skills with others (through great groups like Hunter Area Outdoor Women) and love seeing others reach their potential. I try to bring that motivation and drive to work each day.