CPIT graduate takes home prestigious HR prize

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08 Mar 2016

CPIT graduate Sarah Barrow 

CPIT graduate Sarah Barrow at the New Zealand HR Awards in Auckland.

It was a night to remember for CPIT Aoraki graduate Sarah Barrow (27). The Bachelor of Applied Management graduate was awarded the prize for Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year at the 2016 NZ HR Awards held by the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) at the Auckland War Memorial Museum recently.

"It was overwhelming. The reality is just sinking in now. It's a real honour," Barrow says.

The award was confirmation of Barrow's hard work and drive to succeed in a competitive and rapidly changing industry. Barrow began working as a People and Culture Business Coordinator at Beca in 2014, immediately after completing her Bachelor of Applied Management at the end of 2013. Within 18 months she was promoted to Business Partner within their team.

CPIT Aoraki Head of the Department of Business Dr Teresa Schwellnus says "Barrow was an exceptional student. She knew what she wanted and was focused on achieving it. I am not surprised that her efforts are being recognised so soon by the HR industry."

Barrow, who had previously worked as a legal executive and then at Yealands Estate Wines in Marlborough before studying human resources, says she was drawn to HR because it blended two things that she was passionate about – business success and people.

Part of Barrow's rapid success she attributes to her previous experience working with Yealands Estate.

"I joined Yealands relatively early on and so was exposed to setting up a company. They had a really inspiring team and I wanted to know more about the leadership of success."

Barrow approached CPIT Aoraki about the possibility of studying HR management.

"Sarah is a real success story for combining education, work experience and higher studies," Schwellnus says.

"When we started looking at her previous studies and testing her knowledge we realised she could be credited for a lot of courses. She had gained valuable skills in the workplace."

Barrow's work experience was evaluated by the Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) and she was credited enough courses based on work experience and previous study as a legal executive to be able to complete a Bachelor in Applied Management with just one year of study.

This flexible approach, matching student outcomes with experience has been a winner for Barrow.

"Studying with CPIT was great. I really enjoyed it. The programme was very practical. The staff were very good with a vast amount of HR experience and did a really good job teaching academic subjects and making them practical. It was a really good blend."

 Barrow's position as business partner with Beca shows the value industry places on her skills and knowledge.

"I'm currently coaching senior leaders to build leadership within their teams. It's all about earning trust and understanding the business first. What drives it and the markets it's operating in and then getting the first wins on the board early. It's about being really practical. HR has a lot of hot topics but the key is to be able to bring it back to basics," Barrow says.

Barrow is looking forward to continuing her work with Beca.

"There's a lot of room to grow. I want to push forward building leadership capacity and developing people value," she says.