Within one year of completing her Master of Commerce (Human Resources Management) degree, Brooke Shaw had been promoted and received a global employee award. Although the best was yet to come.

Seven years ago, Brooke Shaw clearly remembers sitting in a lecture theatre learning about change management, then returning to work the next day and putting those exact learnings into practice.

At the time, Brooke was a student in the Master of Commerce (Human Resources Management) program, and had enrolled with the view to support her role at EY as a Management Consultant.

“I was gaining great on-the-job experience in my work,” she says, “But it can be easy to forget to stop and reflect on the theoretical frameworks that underpin your decisions.”

While undertaking the course, Brooke found herself routinely applying what she had learnt during lectures and tutorials to situations in her workplace.

“The lecturers and tutors had so much experience, with many running their own businesses or working as consultants,” she says. “They talked to real-world examples and really brought the content to life.

“The curriculum of the degree provided me with knowledge and skills that were so relevant to my day-to-day work, and could be put into practice straight away.”

The year she completed her degree, Brooke was promoted to the role of Senior Manager, while also receiving a global employee value award from EY.

However, the study had opened her eyes and uncovered a passion for human resources management. Brooke decided to take a career leap, and set her sights on securing a role accountable for talent management. She’s now Senior Manager of Talent and Organisational Development at Dexus.

The curriculum of the degree provided me with knowledge and skills that were so relevant to my day-to-day work, and could be put into practice straight away.

Brooke Shaw,
​Senior Manager Talent And Organisational Development,

The skills needed for a career in HR

The role of an HR professional can be incredibly varied, explains Will Felps, Associate Professor at UNSW Business School.

“HR professionals assist with employee recruitment and selection, performance management, culture change, salaries, benefits, training and development, dismissal, compliance with employment law, health and safety, and the recording and analysing of employee data,” he says.

“In addition to that, HR professionals also need to learn persuasive speaking and writing skills, as well as active listening. These are the core skills that open the door to a career in HR.”

Brooke agrees, saying the ‘soft skills’ she learnt and developed as part of her postgraduate degree contributed enormously to her success at EY, and her ability to transition into a new career.

“My writing and presentation skills improved immensely, and that helped me in my role as a consultant,” she says.

“Reading and understanding the latest theories in business and HR also meant I could pass that knowledge onto my clients. Many times I impressed clients with up-to-date thinking on certain topics. I couldn’t have done that without the course.”

A competitive edge

Although a Master’s degree isn’t a prerequisite for Brooke’s current role, she believes it adds a greater level of depth to her CV.

“With a Master of Commerce, you are perceived by employers as having real expertise and value in business,” she says.

“I am confident the ways of thinking it has taught me and the qualification itself has set me apart from other candidates for job roles, and will continue to do so as my career progresses.”