Strivin & Thrivin Ep 55. Rhea Shyamka- HR Leader


This week on Strivin and Thrivin, we caught up with Rhea Shyamkant, Group General Manager of HR at Next Green Group about her journey from finance to HR and having the courage to follow your passion.

An unlikely discovery

Starting off as a ‘curious grad’ in banking and finance, it was in this unlikely world that Rhea discovered her passion for people.

“I’m very people-centric. I was probably the most animated person in a team of analysts and I always felt that there was more to me. I found very quickly [that I] fell in love with customers, speaking to customers and relationship building.”

Running with this new found passion, Rhea investigated further and found her calling in HR.

“It was only through inquiring with our internal HR manager that I knew there was a wonderful role which encompasses all things people and culture.

“For me, HR, it’s multifaceted. It has so many different streams from recruitment through to talent and people management. Employee engagement through to tricky and curly things like redundancies. It really enables you to embark on a journey with people.”

Walking outside the line

Finding your passion is one thing. Having the courage to follow it when the people around you want to steer you in a different direction, is another. 

“I didn’t have much choice in the career that I chose, coming from a very conservative migrant Indian family. I either had to pick doctor, lawyer or finance. 

“I was like, okay, I can’t stand blood, I don’t want to be a lawyer, so the easy option is finance. But as I embarked on my journey, and I did it for seven years, I discovered my calling and discovered the courage to make the change.”

Finding that courage, for Rhea, was a combination of self belief and support.

“I think for me it was doing a lot of work on myself. [I also] had really good relationships with my lecturers at university. [They] played a big role in giving me that courage and that reassurance that you can do it.”

‘If not you, then who?’

Speaking of mentors, Rhea has continued to be lucky enough to find mentors with the right advice at the right time. 

“I had this incredible leader in my team at an American tech starter who said this profound sentence – if not you, then who? [It’s about] seizing the opportunity, so that’s something I’ve always embodied.”

Inspired to be ambitious and take on the challenges given to her, Rhea has also learnt the importance of developing true connections with those around her.

“I [also] had a phenomenal mentor in my MBA program. His name is Chris Hope. He did this project at the peak of Covid where he went and had coffee with a hundred strangers, just to check in on them. I think the magic of that was connectivity and the power of a conversation.”

Every journey throws you a challenge

Even with the courage to follow her own path and the guidance of some great mentors, Rhea still encountered her fair share of challenges. But she learnt there is positive even in the negative.

“I worked for Ubank, which is part of the National Australia Bank, for eight years. Although we were part of a much larger bank, we were a small close knit team and we all supported one another. When I left and started my HR journey, I worked for a larger professional services firm. Experiencing a lot of cultures that can be a little bit rigid and bit siloed was a little challenging for me … but what it did teach me is that wasn’t for me. I’m someone who wants to get involved in a lot of different things. I am very solutions focused. I’m quite hands on.”

Want to hear our full conversation with Rhea or keen to catch up on more episodes? Click here to listen now.

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