Belinda Jefferys, group executive people and culture at the Bank of Queensland, details how her HR career went from strength to strength
1980 – Takes a stand
In the year before starting university, while seeking a job to fund her education, Belinda Jefferys sees a job listing that sounds perfect – except it specified applicants had to be male.
“I knew that in 1975, legislation had been passed that you couldn’t discriminate on the basis of gender, so I asked to be put forward for the job. It was pivotal for me. I didn’t get angry; I just worked through the problem. I got the job in the end.”
1981 – Studies industrial relations
Raised in a working class suburb by parents with high aspirations for their children, Belinda, the daughter of a union man, pursues a business degree as it enables her to major in IR and personnel.
“The [British] miners’ strike was underway – it was a clash between working people and the state. I saw industrial relations as an area that could have an impact on people’s lives.”
1994 – Helps launch a new business concept
A move to Sydney with her then husband kicks Belinda’s career into high gear with a series of high-profile contracts. The stand-out assignment comes when Belinda is contracted by Westpac to set up its first call centre, a concept which at the time was “a brand new proposition.”
“I’ve done a lot of different things; I’ve seized a lot of opportunities. [Contract work in] Sydney really turned my career around.”
1997 – Consults for Foxtel (and others)
Belinda establishes a successful consultancy, which goes on to perform across industries as diverse as defence, tertiary education, and cable television.
“I was the second person in HR at Foxtel; it was special to be part of a team of people starting something brand new. We were motivated by the power of a go-live date that would not change regardless of what happens.”
2009 – Transforms Bankwest
Within the first four months of taking the top HR role at Bankwest, while Belinda was living in Sydney and commuting across the continent to Perth, the sudden sale of Bankwest to CBA necessitated a total restructuring of the company and downsizing 400 roles.
“It was an enormous challenge. We had to take it apart to rebuild it – and we did so successfully. What we had to do was tough, but I was proud of the way we went about it.”
2011 – Returns to Adelaide
An out-of-the-blue call from a head hunter sees Belinda returning to Adelaide to work for Elders, an ASX listed company. It is a period of restructuring for the venerable company, which is returning to its core business of agriculture. Belinda is tasked with a people strategy that supports the delivery of the organisation’s three year strategic plan.
Crucial for Belinda is the new experience of reporting through a boardroom committee as part of the governance required of a listed company.
2016 – Joins Bank of Queensland
Settled in Adelaide, Belinda receives an unexpected call seeking advice that culminates in her joining the Bank of Queensland as group executive people and culture. These days, a home base in Adelaide co-exists with an apartment in Brisbane and a weekly commute.
“With that leadership team in place, with the skills, enthusiasm, passion, and drive to achieve, I thought ‘how could I let the chance to be part of something like this pass me by?’"