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DNA of an HRD

Two women talking about the DNA of an HRD

It’s not hard to see the appeal of the top Human Resources job. But how do you get there? Career paths can vary, but those who become Human Resources Director share something in common – the DNA of an HRD. 

We spoke to 461 HRDs across Australia and New Zealand in person to uncover commonalities and find out whether there is a DNA of an HRD. We are very grateful to them for their time. From qualifications and experience to personal development and work-life balance, our report gives you an insight into what it takes to reach the top HR job.

If you are considering your career options and want to become a leader in the HR industry, our report will give you an insight into what it takes. And if you are already a HR Director, or well on your way to becoming one, we hope you find what your peer group have to say about success to be interesting and engaging.

Key Findings

Background & qualifications

The majority (88%) of HRDs hold a bachelor degree, although their area of study differs. Of those 24% hold a human resources degree and 4% hold a psychology degree. In addition, 44% hold additional HR qualifications or certifications. Interestingly, the majority (68%) have not always worked in HR.

International experience

47% of HRDs have worked outside Australia and New Zealand at some point during their career. The large majority (96%) say the experience benefited their career.


Over half (53%) of respondents say stakeholder engagement is the most important skill for an HRD to possess. Commercial acumen was a close second place (52%), while strategic planning ranked third with 48% of the vote.

Upcoming challenges

54% of HRDs think that aligning strategic requirements with operational budget and workforce will be the biggest business challenge for them. When asked about their own professional challenges, achieving company objectives came in at number one, followed by demonstrating ROI from the HR department.

Career development

Encouragingly, 68% say that if they had their time all over again, they would still choose the profession, and most would either like to stay in their current post or take on a bigger HR role in future. Almost all (96%) are on LinkedIn yet only half (50%) use social media to network.

Interests & work-life balance

Outside of work HRDs are generally active; 72% play sport or exercise in their spare time. 89% like to socialise with friends and family and 51% like to travel. 

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