Swinburne alumna looks towards the future of (flexible) work

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Swinburne alumna and Learning Manager at Siemens, Bec Grice.

Ensuring flexibility for the workforce of today and the future is an important topic for Swinburne alumna and Siemens Learning Manager, Bec Grice | Image: Siemens.

In summary

  • Written by Kaitlyn Blanchard, Bachelor of Media and Communication, Swinburne University of Technology

As Learning Manager at manufacturing giant Siemens, Swinburne alumna, Bec Grice, helps prepare employees for Industry 4.0 and the future of work. 

Since graduating with an Advanced Diploma of Human Resources and a Bachelor of Business with majors in human resource management and marketing, Ms Grice has led a thriving career in human resources. 

Ms Grice joined the team at Siemens Australia and New Zealand five years ago. During this time, she has worked in talent acquisition, program management, and learning and development.

Preparing for tomorrow’s workforce

Ms Grice’s passion for supporting people began at Swinburne, and she has had the opportunity to collaborate with the university as part of her work with Siemens. 

This includes helping launch the ‘Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship Program’ – an initiative involving Swinburne, Siemens and the Ai Group. This program earned Siemens the Employer Award for Australian Apprenticeships at the 2018 Australian Training Awards.

“Working with Swinburne and the Ai Group to develop and implement such a forward-thinking program, was definitely a career highlight,” says Ms Grice.

“It even saw me accompany the program’s first apprentices to Germany, where Siemens is headquartered, to visit the world’s largest industrial fair, Hannover Messe, and meet Australia’s then prime minister.”  

Ms Grice also recently ran a workshop for students from Swinburne’s Master of Human Resource Management. The workshop explored the challenges companies face in preparing for the future of work, including around career development and how to manage having five generations working side-by-side. 

In her current role, Ms Grice is responsible for all Siemens activities designed to nurture the skills of employees. This role is increasingly important as the company embraces the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry, known as Industry 4.0.

“It’s an exciting time to be in this role, as learning is such a pivotal part in helping employees adapt to the digital disruption that’s happening all around us,” she says.

“Every day I have something different to focus on, a new challenge to explore and a new opportunity to help Siemens and prepare employees for the future needs of the company.”

Aside from digital skills, Ms Grice believes Industry 4.0 and the future of work requires a higher level of applied knowledge and transferable skills.

“From an organisational learning perspective we understand the future of work is not just about technology, but also about the human elements, such as critical problem solving, collaboration and emotional intelligence, and how these skills can be applied across different roles and scenarios,” she says.

“The challenge and opportunity is in how we support our company and employees to equip them with the skills they need to transition to the future of work and become resilient to changing environments and behaviours that come with digitalisation and Industry 4.0.”

Parental guidance

Ensuring flexibility at work for the workforce of today and the future is also front of mind for Ms Grice.

Ms Grice is a mother of four young children and has always chosen roles that offer her flexibility, allowing her to enjoy both her career and home life. 

Having both a career and a family can sometimes be challenging, but according to Ms Grice, there are plenty of perks for working parents and for the companies who help their employees balance the two.

 “I think working parents bring diversity and a great dynamic to the workplace,” she says.

“Personally, having to juggle work and family has given me a new perspective on my working style and has increased my ability to organise and prioritise.”

“Becoming a mother has also taught me to be more flexible as my family’s needs continue to change. This in turn has helped build my resilience in the workplace, and made me more comfortable making decisions and thinking outside the box to solve problems.”

Since having her first child nine years ago, Ms Grice believes organisations have come a long way in their inclusion and support of parents in the workplace.

“Each time I have returned to work, I have noticed a progression in the conversations and awareness around parents going back to work,” she says.

However, there’s always opportunity for improvement, says Ms Grice.

“From speaking to my networks, I think many organisations still need to find better ways of staying connected to their employees on parental leave and helping prepare them for the stress and anxiety that may come with returning to work and trying to balance it with a family,” she says.

“The dynamics of working flexibly don’t come naturally to everyone either, so while it’s great that organisations are looking at how they can offer flexibility to working parents, I also think it’s important that they provide some guidelines on how to do this effectively too.”

“As both a parent and a HR professional, I hope the future of work sees more of this.”