Passion for people: How Shamama’s unexpected career change led her to Cardinia Shire Council

Shamama knows what a difference it can make to feel valued and included at work. As a People and Culture Officer at Cardinia Shire Council, she feels proud to make everyone in our team feel like they truly matter. Shamama’s career journey has taken her to the other side of the world, but what has never changed, and never will, is her belief that people are the most important asset in every organisation.

The importance of inclusivity

When you first meet Shamama, the warmth and positivity she exudes makes you feel completely at ease. It’s this intangible quality that makes her the perfect fit for a role in Cardinia Shire Council’s People and Culture team, so it’s surprising that her career originally started in a very different field.

“I am an electrical engineer. That was what I originally studied in India. But during my engineering days, I realised that the most important asset in the company wasn’t the machinery; it was the people. That inspired me to do my MBA in Human Resources because that’s what HR is all about: helping people feel recognised and rewarded for all they contribute on their journey in the organisation.”

After Shamama completed her degree, she worked in a number of multinational corporations in India, growing her HR capabilities and managing some of the biggest portfolios in the country. But when she decided to join her husband in relocating to Australia, unfortunately, Shamama’s extensive HR expertise wasn’t recognised.

“The HR job market wasn’t very open to people with diverse backgrounds. I essentially had to start my career from scratch. I would go to interviews where the hiring manager couldn’t understand my accent, which was disheartening. Even though I had the skills, I could tell from the way they acted towards me that I wasn’t getting the job.”

When a People and Culture Officer role opened up at Cardinia Shire Council, Shamama couldn’t contain her excitement. As a proud shire resident, the diversity of the community is something she loves most, and she was hopeful the council would reflect the same values as the community it serves. Thankfully, she was right!

“Cardinia Shire Council really gives back and does a lot for the community. I’m very proud to be a shire resident, so when this role came up, I thought it would be the best opportunity to give back to the community through the people who work for the community. It seemed like the perfect combination of my passions.”

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Never a dull moment

As part of the People and Culture team, Shamama looks after all stages of the employee lifecycle – from recruitment to retirement and everything in between. And she’s been proud to bear witness to the incredible improvements that have made the recruitment process more inclusive, increasing representation and belonging across the council.

“Things have changed phenomenally in the last five years. I sit on recruitment panels now and see a real difference. There have been a lot of process improvements, changing of recruitment systems, and the implementation of new People and Culture metrics, which I invested a lot of time and energy into initially and has since evolved dramatically.”

Shamama was also proud to be involved in the state government’s “Working for Victoria” program, which saw Cardinia Shire Council supporting workers whose employment was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With directives regularly changing, it was up to Shamama and the People and Culture team to communicate these to employees, including the issuing of travel permits. With so much to do in so little time, the extra help was much appreciated!

“My husband used to say, ‘I’ve never seen you as busy as you’ve been through COVID-19,’” Shamama laughs. “Through Working for Victoria program, we were able to hire people for six months to help us out during those busy periods, but it was also great for retention. So many of the Working for Victoria employees were able to secure ongoing employment both at Cardinia Shire Council (and local other organisations) because of their experience here.”

Support is everything

Shamama is passionate about giving her all to her community, at work and at home. She says that one of the biggest things she’s learned at Cardinia Shire Council is how to achieve a healthy work-life balance, made possible by the support she’s received.

“Even though we’re often busy, there is a great work-life balance. When I first joined, I only worked school hours because I needed to look after my daughter’s health, but now that she’s older, I’ve been able to make the gradual change to a job-share arrangement. I’ve really appreciated how flexible and understanding my team has been with that.”

As Shamama’s family grows, she’s looking forward to growing her career, too. Whatever the future holds, she’s committed to serving the Cardinia Shire community with pride and making a difference in the lives of her incredible team.

“I feel like I know the job in and out now, so I would love to keep growing in the council. My leader has been very supportive in providing me with opportunities to learn and develop. My daughter is also starting high school in a year’s time, so I’m busy shortlisting schools for her, all within the shire, of course!”

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Support is everything

Shamama has always believed people are the most important asset of any organisation. A role as People and Culture Officer at Cardinia Shire Council puts her at the heart of the organisation, where she provides support and recognises the value of every team member. And as a proud Cardinia resident, Shamama feels privileged to give back to a community that has given her so much.

“Cardinia is a council that really gives back and does a lot for the community. I’m very proud to be a Cardinia resident, so when this role came up, I thought it would be the best opportunity to give back to the community through the people who work for the community. It seemed like the perfect combination of my passions.”

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