Giving Back

Updated: Oct 15


by Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation


PERTH, Western Australia - The young ones gathered for the Brilliant Sundowner 2022 at City Beach last evening to hear industry and academic leaders share their lives. The weather was perfect in the still cool evening, with the sun setting in the background.


Amy Wei Tian, Associate Professor, Curtin University and Founding Member, The Brilliant Foundation stated that she didn’t plan her career in Human Resources (HR) – it just fell into her lap. “Originally, I wanted to be a consultant, in my past life, it wasn’t a HR role, I was a PA, personal assistant to an Executive and within two months, they moved me into HR. Sometimes in life, a job or career choose you, and not the other way round. I worked in a large international retail organisation, Jean West in Hong Kong and was moved up within the hierarchy rather quickly. I became the HR Director for three years.”


I asked:“ How did you end up in England?”


"When I worked in Hong Kong, China, I decided to pursue my studies in the United Kingdom". All in all, Amy studied and worked in Britain for ten years. She completed her Masters and Phd in England worked in another international retail chain, Zara, before coming to Australia.


She said: “There are two things that bring you to a new country…either a job or relationship.” Amy met her partner in England, and life led her to Perth to live and work.
When asked what was her hobby?…Amy said: “My hobby is work!”... and everyone laughed.
She said:"Enjoying family and having a child has given me a new perspective in life for me.”




Marina Mikula, Culture and Business Partner, currently works with a FMCG global company based in Sydney. She wanted to delve into marketing initially but was persuaded otherwise to specialise in HR as it was a steadier and more stable role.


Marina encouraged students to obtain an internship experience or a part-time job to understand the corporate world as it sets them apart.

Marina graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce at The University of Western Australia (UWA). She worked in Perth before settling into Sydney for three years. Marina loves snowboarding, skiing, snorkelling and surfing. With her partner, they both have travelled to Hawaii, France, Croatia and Germany. Marina said: “I have shifted from a generalist role to a more specialist role and am enjoying HR very much.”



Ben McGinty, Talent Acquisition Lead, Woodside Energy expressed his enthusiasm for travel and to explore the world. He graduated from Curtin University with a Double Degree in HR specialising in Asian language, Japanese. He shared: “I had no idea and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. Does anyone know? Initially, I had an internship in the retail sector, David Jones.”


Then he decided to see the world.


His intention was to stay in the United Kingdom for six months, he fell in love with the place and he lived in London for the next eight years and enjoyed every moment of it. He stayed with Hays in London, focussing on recruitment within a consulting environment. Afterwards, he had another recruitment role within the construction industry and General Electric which gave him further insight and experience in the HR role.


Ben said:"I am lucky enough to have a job in Woodside, now Woodside Energy and I have been here for over 4 years now. In truth, a career is hardly linear.”



Mike Baldwin, Lecturer and Unit Coordinator leads the core unit Communications, Culture and Indigenous Perspectives in Business (CCIB), Curtin University with his team. He has travelled extensively and worked in the States, New Zealand and China. In his previous life, Mike worked in abattoirs and was a tradesman. Mike said: “I am always pursuing the good life." In his mid-life, he decided to get an education and graduated with the Doctorate of Philosophy, UWA focussing on Happiness. His thesis was about the Happiness and the Good Life, exploring the Concept of Happiness. A person of remarkable and positive action, his values of treating individuals decently, respect and kindness are something that he lives by daily. He shares: “Professional ethics is important to me and the way we live every day with good intentions will bring forth a positive experience that will bring happiness. It isn’t an elusive concept.”




During Question and Answer (Q&A), Matthew Cattrell asked Mike: “Have you finally found happiness?” Everyone roared with laughter.


Mike said they are other values to happiness and posed the question: “Are you wanting to be a HAPPY slave or rather being a miserable FREE person?



Other questions asked by Mel, Faith and Alex:

What is the best bit of HR, being a generalist or specialisation?

What is the hardest part of being in HR?

Is there any specific role or life that you will lead?


The responses by the panel:

“The toughest challenge in HR is people management. Human beings are so different and have different personalities. As a HR professional, we need to have the ability to understand and communicate very well. That is really important.”


“You take cultural and values any day of the week over technical competence.”


“The values you hold. Develop character in being the right sort of person and the sort of moral person. Aristotle believed in developing character in intellectual steps and learn from those mistakes that develop the muscle of character.”


“Making mistakes is okay because that is good and you will learn from it. Be curious. There is a massive world out there that is really rich and really textured. Ask questions and be involved in it.”


“Have a growth mindset. That is so important”


It was a lovely sundowner where the youth chatted to the professionals, asking questions pertaining to their lives and the way forward.


The Brilliant Foundation is truly grateful for Amy, Marina, Ben, Mike and Louella from the Telethon Institute of Kids and Alexander Circosta for volunteering their time and to share their life experiences with the teens and undergraduates. The experience was totally positive and the ambience was alive and engaging. Thank you all for coming.


For the university students that attended this sundowner – Thank You so much for coming! All of you you inspire me every day to do better!


Remember that these amazing individuals are no different to you and I.


They are Resilient. Diligent. Hardworking. Focussed. Passionate.


They find meaning in what they do every day.


Ordinary individuals, doing extraordinary things – in their roles, they seek to work on initiatives and projects that have value to make life lighter, more enjoyable and liveable.


True grit to do better, overcoming adversity and challenges through hard work, positive action and self-awareness.


Not the fake news that we see every day in social media, sensational news, reality TV or influencers touting wares.


They have continued their personal development and life-long learning through education.


They have done the hard yards to lead a fulfilling life. You can do the same.


So please start getting organised.


Make a Plan.


Read your academic journal articles. (do not roll your eyeballs at this stage)


Do your research.


Update your Endnote.


Attend your lectures face-to-face and attend ALL your tutorials.


Find your friends and your tribe. Maintain Your Friendship.














THE END


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