Name: Joe Horacek
Job title: Director, people and culture
Company: Sydney Opera House
Employees: 720, including 11 in HR
If you think of Sydney, you can't help but conjure up an image of the Sydney Opera House - an iconic, sail-shaped building on Sydney Harbour that is both a performing arts venue to 1.5 million patrons each year and a tourism and visitor destination for another four million people. It has an annual staff turnover rate of between 10% and 12%.
Joe Horacek has worked at Sydney Opera House for more than 14 years. After completing an honours degree in English and European history, he started his working life as an organisational development consultant for telecoms company OTC, which ran the country's overseas networks.
His next employer was the Sydney Opera House. After two years in organisational development, he spent the next eight in HR, first as executive officer to the chief executive then as manager corporate strategy a few short management stints in tourism and marketing as they were undergoing change a year as director of customer service and then four years in his current role, as director of people and culture.
"I know this business because I have had both line management and strategic roles, and also sat in board meetings as company secretary," he says.
"I tell any HR professional that if they have a chance to take a line role, they should snap it up. You understand the pressures managers face when HR, IT and finance are pulling in all directions."
Getting to see shows is one of the perks of the job at the Sydney Opera House. Horacek has enjoyed being a part of major national and international events, such as the 2000 Olympics (as a performance, hosting and triathlon venue) and New Year's Eve 1999, where everyone in the organisation pitched in, no matter what their level.
In a typical week, Horacek spends 30% of his time working on broader corporate management issues, including a major renewal of the building, a new tourism strategy, and a brand strategy. His 11-hour day starts in his office reviewing paperwork. He allocates time each day to spend with his staff discussing projects they are working on, talking to his peers and the chief