Human on the Inside with BHP’s Elisa Nerone


5 min read

We’re big believers in the power of human skills. But don’t just take our word for it – the evidence for excellence powered by human (‘soft’) skills is everywhere! In this engaging, ever-enlightening series, we speak with industry leaders, innovators and game-changers to learn a little about their personal career journeys, and how human-led strategies, philosophies and cultures are proving a force for good in their working worlds …

Welcome Elisa, and thanks for stepping into the #SuccessIsHuman Spotlight! You’re the Global Head of HR Strategy, Planning & Integrity for BHP. In 1 sentence (ok, we’ll give you 3), what does this role entail?

Fancy title… but basically means leading the work on our people strategy and plan connecting this to our customers needs and business strategy. Identifying what people interventions we need in the next 1-5 years to help BHP achieve its purpose. I also lead our HR technology and data privacy teams and governance work.

Your impressive HR career has involved a particular focus on supporting employees, teams and organisational cultures to thrive. How does this work speak to your personal purpose and what drives you as an individual?

OMG it plays so close to my personal purpose of helping others – what is more rewarding than giving to others, problem solving, coaching and seeing people change, grow and ultimately succeed? I love seeing people happy, and I love working to make workplaces ones where everyone feels like they belong, are free to be themselves, and supported to do their best work.

Tell us a little about your personal education pathway/s – what led you to where you are now? How closely do your formal qualifications match your current career?

I always got in trouble at school for talking too much in class – I just loved being around people. I also liked the science and maths arena, but landed on studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in HR. My interest at Uni was more towards the HR and marketing subjects. I was lucky to complete an industry-based learning year as part of my course (in an HR role) and the rest is history!

If you could share one piece of career advice to your 21 year old self it would be …

Hmmm…“I know you’re keen and ambitious, so keep that fire in your belly, but remember your career will be long so there is plenty of time! No need to rush – there is lots to learn, and new doors and pathways will open up along the way.”

Maximising the potential of individuals, communities and businesses through the power of human skills is the reason Maxme exists. What role do you think human skills play in workplaces of today?

Human skills are as critical as technical skills, but harder to develop in my opinion. Human skills and leadership skills are what sets organisations apart. It helps create their culture and ability to achieve its strategy.

Self Awareness sets the critical foundation for all Maxme learning experiences. With that said … what’s your strongest trait / personal super power?

I think I’d say my passion/energy and positive outlook. I’m always keen to help, change or improve things from today.

And on the flip side, what’s one human / ‘soft’ skill you’ve had to really work on improving over the course of your career?

My passion, haha! Overuse of my strength. I can get impatient and ‘power-on’ without always bringing everyone along.

If you could share one piece of career advice with recent Uni graduates or candidates looking to land their first corporate gig, what would it be?

Be curious, learn and grow. Be open to all types of work (even the boring stuff), it will pay off in the long run. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up, tell prospective employers what you think, and share your big, bold ideas – it’s so great getting feedback!

University graduates often assume their academic results are the truest marker of their ‘employability’. Would you agree?

Not necessarily. There’s a bunch of equally compelling factors. For example, prior experience – and that experience doesn’t even have to be related or have to be paid work – could be volunteering, sports, arts….whatever. Evidence of a learning mindset is incredibly attractive.

In the words of John Dewey, “education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” What’s next on your #learning agenda?

So true! At the moment it is –

  1. Learning from startups (like Maxme) and others groups
  2. Continuing to broaden my external network to learn from others.

Both take personal investment, but I love it.