Meet HR Sustain’s Principal, Lou-Ann Gibson



Let’s get to know each other. I’ll start!

Hi I’m Lou-Ann, HR Sustain’s Principal and all-round Human Resources (HR) guru. I’m often asked how I became a “HR guru” and what drove me to leave the corporate world behind and launch HR Sustain to service small and medium business owners (SMEs) on the Mornington Peninsula and beyond. And so, because I too, am naturally curious - that’s probably why I love working with people so much, I’m going to share some of my story with you here!

Let’s start at the very beginning

When I was a kid and someone asked me what I wanted to be “when I grew up”, I imagined myself as a cross between Wonder Woman, Jo March (Little Women) and Anne of Green Gables. Not exactly helpful with the limited careers advice I received in school, but over the years, I’ve realised that it’s those personality traits that help you find your place, rather than having that one ‘job’ in mind!

Growing up, my Mum was a nurse and Dad worked in a Credit Union as the Loans Manager. I knew that I didn’t want to follow in their footsteps and Duran Duran weren’t looking for a backing singer, so I studied Marketing and Hospitality Management. After my studies, I started working in various roles within HR. In my 20 years in the field, I covered a lot of roles from Advisor, Business Partner through to Manager.

How did HR Sustain come about?

After many years in the corporate world, I knew that I was missing something. Although my work was rewarding, I still felt like I could do more. I was helping friends out with the HR headaches in their businesses and I realised that many of these SMEs needed HR solutions that required a flexibility and a practical approach.  I had found my niche.

By 2012 my vision had become clearer. I was living on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula and was surrounded by inspiring local businesses. I knew that I could help them achieve sustainable success by implementing strong and adaptable HR solutions. In early 2013 I developed an idea for my business name and logo and after a few years I made the brave leap to the consulting world. I officially launched HR Sustain in 2016.

How do people generally know they need HR Sustain’s help?

People are often referred to me by someone else that I’ve worked with in the past. Sometimes however, I get a call from a business owner who realises there’s an issue within their business that they need expert help with.

That’s where the Wonder Woman in me springs to life! We begin by addressing the issue(s) and putting measures in place to ensure it is not repeated. During this process we often discover other areas that require attention and we suggest solutions for these also.

Of course, some pro-active business owners will decide the time’s right to establish or review their HR function and we at HR Sustain help by undertaking a HR or Manager Skills audit.

Ultimately, our mission is to take away the stress of people management so that business owners can get back to doing what they do best.

What’s my favourite HR challenge?

Let’s face it, HR can be perplexing at times. But there’s never been a challenge that I haven’t been able to work out with some compassion and tenacity. And the ultimate reward is when we work through a complex HR issue and lift that burden from the business owner, so they can continue to see their staff and business thrive.

In addition, I really enjoy using DiSC profiling tools with individuals and teams to increase their personal effectiveness. It’s so rewarding watching people push themselves out of their comfort zone and embrace new ideas.

My inspiration

Professionally, I very much admire Indra Naooyi, Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. I respect her strong leadership style, determined by the 5 C's Model of Leadership: competency, courage, confidence, communication skills and compass. As well as her vision to empower and drive female professionals into the c-suite.

It’s these same values that I hope to instil in my three beautiful daughters, Alexandra, Lily and Isla (“eye-la”).

One thing I wish people knew about my job

HR is so much more than hiring and firing! I challenge myself every day to address the preconceived perception of HR and HR professionals.  Through education change happens.

The best thing about my work

I love helping business owners become confident people leaders. It’s truly rewarding to see the business and everyone in it thrive. Ultimately, it’s what makes our community stronger.

The worst thing about my work

The process of separation of employment is always difficult and has to be managed carefully to maintain an individual’s dignity.  It’s a person’s life and livelihood being affected. If only I had a time machine, I’d go back and try and figure out a way to avoid these situations altogether.

That’s why I’m passionate about implementing great strategies for recruitment, performance and ongoing leadership within the work environment. It’s all about culture and ensuring a great values-fit.  When we get that right, we avoid issues further down the path.

What makes HR Sustain different?

Being a small business owner, I can relate and empathise with the challenges that other SME owners face.  I bring HR and SME expertise and apply it with a tailored approach to suit every Client’s situation.

I’m big on communication! I listen to and work closely with my Clients to find solutions that suit them. I also make it my priority to attend to any issues promptly, then it’s never as daunting to have those challenging conversations.

What’s something we ought to know about you?

  • I really love working with people. I know, weird right?
  • I was set up on a date with my Scottish husband when he was backpacking around Australia.  We clocked up quite a few air miles between us and now call Mt Eliza home with our 3 beautiful daughters.
  • I’ve tried escargots and definitely won’t be going back for seconds!
  • My karaoke song is “Islands in the stream”, but I wouldn’t make a chair turn on ‘The Voice’!
  • If (and when) anyone makes a movie about my life, I’d be quite happy with Mindy Kaling or Priyanka Chopra to play me!
  • My work motto is “We put the ‘human’ back into ‘human resources”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about me! Now it’s your turn! I’d love to learn some more about you and what makes your business tick. So let’s talk!

Get in touch with Lou-Ann today to discuss your HR needs.

“Lou-Ann is amazing to work with. She has saved us time and money and a whole load of heartache time and time again”.

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