Manon Pietra, People & Development Director, PHD Australia

Recently named Young Business Leader in Campaign Asia’s Women Leading Change Awards, and a previous winner of Mumbrella’s Business Administration Support Person of the Year Award, PHD Australia’s people and development director, Manon Pietra, speaks to LBB’s Natasha Patel about ‘falling into’ her role in the creative industry and the changes she’s implemented for the benefit of others.

On her 21st birthday Manon landed in Sydney alone and marked the start of her new life on the other side of the globe from her home in France in what she calls “a pretty bold move”.

Manon cites her French culture as heavily influencing her personality and outlook. “The education system in France is highly structured, and a lot is expected from children in terms of academic achievement, which has definitely permeated my approach in adult life,” she says. “I’m a real perfectionist and I never give up!”

Manon says she learnt many lessons early on in her career, but “the most powerful was that you’re a leader if you want to be. I quickly learnt that if you wanted a seat at the table you must lean in and make the leap. Also, if something is worth worrying about, it’s worth doing something about.”

After securing a Master’s in Human Resources and Industrial Relations at the University of Sydney and working in corporate HR teams, Manon landed a role in the creative industry “accidentally”.

“You hear people say, ‘I fell into it’; well, that was true for me too. I didn’t think it would be possible – an HR role in a fun, creative, dynamic workplace – but after a few years in super corporate HR, I landed at PHD and thought, ‘Finally, I’ve found my people’.”

The past few months and the effects of COVID-19 have, in her words, “tested and challenged me personally”.

“My ability to support and nurture our people at PHD without having any definitive answers has been tough. Working in such isolation can be lonely no matter what role you are in, so it’s really important to stay connected and be intentional about connecting with people across different organisations and industries.”

But despite being on a “journey of mixed emotions” during lockdown, Manon credits her colleagues at PHD for being pillars of support and adds “despite these challenging times, we have kept our culture alive and helped each other stay positive.”

As PHD Australia’s people and development director, Manon helps to oversee 200+ PHDers across the Sydney and Melbourne offices.

She recently helped PHD win the Talent Management Award at the Australian Institute HR Awards, the most prestigious HR awards programme in the country, and was also part of the team recognised as an ABA100 Winner in The Australian Business Awards 2019 in both the HR Management and Employer of Choice categories.

Read Manon’s full ‘Uprising’ interview with Little Black Book here.