Mastering the art of human resources

The workplace compliance system is a complex and ever-changing process that can be difficult to manage. With non-compliance issues in the workplace on the incline, the role of human resources plays an essential part in understanding key issues within the workplace, developing company strategies and handling employee-centred activities.

As a human resource (HR) manager, Mhairi Holway knows all too well about issues in the workplace and the conundrum retailers face when it comes to actioning workplace compliance.

“I believe the majority of retailers genuinely want to do the right thing, but find it challenging to keep abreast of the changes and/or lack the resources to help them. It’s a huge challenge, especially for small retailers.”

Working as the Vice President HR manager for Pandora over the last decade, Mhairi has been at the forefront of watching an organisation grow and develop into a prosperous and successful business.

“I joined Pandora when it was a family business with just a few stores and very little in the way of HR. It has been a privilege to contribute to the success of the business over the last 10 years and shape the culture and employee experience.”

With a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon, Mhairi has recently made the bold decision to pursue her long-term career goal of starting her own HR consultancy business.

“Throughout my career, I’ve learnt that every challenge presents an opportunity for personal growth and I need an environment of constant learning to keep me nourished. I’ve also learnt that sometimes you need to work in the grey and just run with an idea.”

While complications around business practices may arise, Mhairi has developed the skills to face any challenges that come her way through supporting her team and emphasising the prosperous opportunities that arise from change.

“Business restructures can be a harrowing task, however they are a necessary part of the evolution of a business. The key to getting through any challenge is to throw your energy into supporting individuals through their transition with the aim of getting them to a position that is equal or better than the starting point.”

As the Australian retail industry is a $310 billion-dollar sector, employing 10% of the working population, Mhairi plays an integral role in the acquisition of retail staff who are often recognised as the backbone in the industry.

“Retail is such a dynamic environment and a multi-faceted industry that offers a range of avenues for young people to sink their teeth into,” she said.

“My advice for anyone trying to break into the industry would be to seek out projects from different aspects of the business whether it be commercial, merchandising, marketing, sales, HR, finance or logistics and discover what really drives and inspires you. If you wait until you’re 100% ready, you will be late.”

To learn more about Mhairi and her passion for human resources, look out for the Australian Retailers Association’s Women in Retail series or visit




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