My daughter in HR?

Driving to her school one day to drop her off, my 5-year-old girl starts chatting to me about possible future endeavours she’s thinking about pursuing…

The top of her list was ‘horse farmer’ – amusing, since I think she meant ‘horse breeder’ and that her only contact with horses was at her 3rd birthday party when we took her to a pony club (they must have had an impact on her).

When I asked, if she wasn’t going to be a horse breeder, what else did she have in mind?  The conversation went a little something like this:

She said “I like what you do…”

“Oh, no, honey… you don’t want to do my job – don’t you want to be a doctor to help sick people?”


“What about being an astronaut, and go out to space?”


“You sure?  You could be an inventor, or a scientist… or you really like maths – what about a mathematician?”


Then I stopped – why am I discouraging my daughter away from a possible career in HR?  Is it not worthy enough as a career aspiration that it couldn’t compare to a horse breeder?

So, which leads me to another question – what would HR look like if my girl did pursue a career in HR in roughly about 20 years?
Would it continue the same way?  Always with an element of putting out employment relation fires? Constant paperwork?  Paper application forms, recruitment interviews (and forms), employee change forms, development forms, benefit forms, exit interviews (and forms).

One of the interesting things I’ve found that will occur if she does succeed in getting a role within HR is the amount of ageing people who is estimated to be in the workforce around in 20 years (give or take her graduation and finding a job!).

“By the mid-2040s, half of our population will be older than 45 years, compared with a median age of 34 years in 1999. ” – Statistics New Zealand

Accompanied with people stretching out their retirement age, would our HR tertiary system or HR practises be any different to accommodate this shift of demographic to better facilitate theirs and our operational needs?

As I’m the generation that found when we entered the workforce that we didn’t need to pay Union fees (or yet understand what Unions were or the working history of NZ), where the decline of Union membership around New Zealand and the rise of individual powers to companies, would they still be relevant?  Or would Employment Relations (ugh!) be just a history lesson?

No doubt the age of technology and mega-data is in its toddler years, how is HR embracing the race to not be left behind?  How is HR understanding the technology, let alone the people we try to recruit or develop for their needs and possibilities?

I, on the other hand, have very little hope that much change will occur for the local government industry (where I’m residing), as some are trying to keep up with private sectors on the limited rate-payer budgets to service the community with extraordinary employees.  Only time may prove me wrong.

Sorry to leave you with more questions than answers… but isn’t that what the future does to mankind?

As for Breanna, I don’t think she understands what I do, or why I think being in HR is self-fulfilling (he tangata, he tangata, he tangata).

But I’ve now learned not to dismiss her aspirations of where she wants to go in her career, no matter how crazy (or mundane) it might be.