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Big doesn’t mean better! <i>Women In Business Series </i>

My recent blogs on women in business issues has really struck a cord with many of you, so I thought I would introduce you to some of the wonderful women in business I know and find out how they have risen to the top of their industry.

I first met Tina Radford from HRBS in the early years of starting Red PR. We were both women starting new businesses at the same time and have provided great support to each other over the years. Being in business, male or female, can be very isolating and having a support network of like-minded people is essential – Tina was one of these people for me. Over the years we have shared many trials and tribulations during the growth of both our companies and are still standing to tell the tales.

Tina is a formidable business woman – she is direct, she is strategic and from a HR perspective, I haven’t met anyone better. She may be tiny in stature, but this lady is one tough cookie and these traits have seen her business continue to grow, to change direction, to be successful and to survive the GFC.

Allow me to introduce Tina Radford – HR extraordinaire.

Tina Radford, 37, Managing Director @ HR Business Solutions

Give us a brief history on how you got to where you are today? I studied Human Resources and Law at QUT and went on to forge a career in HR within fast growing entrepreneurial national organisations where I was responsible for setting up and leading the HR function. I was in a national HR Manager role at the age of 23. Before starting my own HR Consulting business 5 years ago, I was the global head of HR of an international jewellery retail group.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Recruiting the right consultants with practical management and HR experience to work with our diverse range of clients, which include government, blue chip organisations and SMEs.

What is the most enjoyable part of your role? Working with CEO’s and business owners and helping them develop and implement strategies to develop their people and leadership capabilities and seeing their businesses profit and grow as a result of our working with them.

Who do you admire in business? I admire other entrepreneurial women in business such as my mentor and first manager Rhonda White, who is the co-founder of the Terry White Chemists Group – she is the epitome of an ‘inspirational leader’.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career? Leaving a high profile and rewarding career with a global organisation to start my own HR consulting business, which I funded and founded myself and which 5 years on continues to grow and prosper due to the support of our loyal clients and dedicated team.

What is your number one tip for women starting out in your industry? Ensure you have a good support system in place to allow you to put the business first at times, you need to be available full time to truly develop a business from scratch, you need people around you that are accepting of your need to sometimes work long hours and devote yourself to your clients to build a solid foundation.

Is there any aspect of your career/ decision that you regret and why? Looking back, I started out trying to be everything to everyone. By that I mean I offered too many services which required me to engage a large team in my first two years of business. I have since learnt that you are best to restrict your offering to a few key services which you are very good at and employing experts of ‘A grade’ quality and having less staff than a larger team of B grade consultants. This ensures sustainable growth.

If you could give yourself some advice back when starting out in the work force as a twenty something what would it be? Diversify, by this I mean, get out of your trade and your comfort zone. Try your hand at general management to develop the skills and confidence to manage the financial aspects of a business. This is just as important as being an expert in your field of expertise, you need to learn and understand how to operate a successful business in good times and in the tough times.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career? Coming out of the GFC stronger and more confident. We reviewed and changed our business model, which has resulted in continual growth and a more diversified client group.

How do you manage work life balance? Sometimes this is still a challenge when you are passionate about what you do and your clients. However, by surrounding myself with a great team I have found I am able to work less hours and enjoy more flexibility than two years ago. Having a lovely husband to come home to helps too.

If you could do anything differently along the journey so far what would it be? To get out front and get on the tools when you first start your business and interact with the market and your clients as much as possible. This firsthand knowledge would have helped me get the services model right and assist me to identify what talent I needed in my business. Also, to understand the financial side of the business intimately and be sure to engage good financial advisors and accountants and meet with them regularly in the first couple of years to know what you don’t know.

Do you do career planning annually, take each opportunity as they come – how have you structured your career? Every January I set my career, business and personal goals, I then go through this same process with each member of my team and then modify everyone’s roles to suit their personal and professional goals for the year. I also identify areas that I wish to invest further in my development, whether this be attending conferences, training courses or reviewing my own role to ensure I am working to my strengths and spending my time working on the things I love doing.

What is the next big challenge/ opportunity for 2011? Delegating more responsibility to the team and moving more into a pure MD and Business Development focused role and spending less time ‘on the tools’ doing the work to allow me to work a 9 day fortnight !

Is there a career change in you? Yes definitely, I am not sure yet what that will be, but I will inevitably start or be involved in some other business in the next decade…. I am always open to new opportunities

What is your dream job? I am working on achieving my dream job in my current business every day. I love being a leader and making a difference in our client’s businesses. I think I can achieve this best by evolving my role into a true CEO role, or eventually being in a position where I could engage a CEO and work at board level in my own business and perhaps others.

What is the best book you have read that inspired you in business? How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie – life changing I read it every couple of years.

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Fleur Madden-Topley

Fleur Madden-Topley

Fleur is managing director of <a href="http://www.redpr.com.au">Red PR</a> in Brisbane and Blue by Red PR in Sydney. She started her career as a journalist and Red PR was born out of the necessity for public relations professionals to deliver quality work and exceed both their clients’ and the media’s expectations. In seven years, Red has become one of the most respected lifestyle PR agencies in Australia. In 2008, it was the first Australian agency asked to partner with PROI, the largest global group of independently owned agencies.

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