Myra Anwar: An Inspiring HR Leader Achieving Positive Change with Empathy and Insight

Top 10 Most Influential HR Executives to Watch in 2023

For Myra Anwar, Chief People and Culture Officer at SMARTECH Business Systems, the beginning of her career was marked by her deep-rooted belief in the potential for humanity to thrive and her unwavering desire to make a meaningful difference. This passion guided her to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Commerce, with a major in Human Resources and Industrial Relations.

A Belief in The Power to Effect Positive Change

Even at a very young age, Myra had an innate sense that her future would involve the power to effect change. Although her initial tertiary education was set out to include a law degree, she feels incredibly fortunate to have found her path in human resources. While she had initially been accepted into a bachelor’s program in Law and Education at UNSW, she made a deliberate choice to follow her heart and embark on a journey that would allow her to shape organizational cultures and enhance the well-being of all stakeholders.

By immersing herself in the study of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Myra sought to develop a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics within organizations and how they impact the workforce. Her goal was to create and maintain an engaged and happy workforce by adding value to all individuals involved. She recognized that by aligning the interests and needs of employees, management, and other stakeholders, she could foster a positive and collaborative environment that would unlock the full potential of the organization.

“The HR field aligns perfectly with my aspirations, allowing me to play a role in transforming and shaping human behavior to achieve collective goals. My personal journey of adapting distinct cultures while progressing through my education further intensified my desire to seek out opportunities where I could make a difference within the communities I work and operate in,” she says.

As Myra navigated through life, she gradually realized that she possessed the essential qualities and resilience necessary to contribute significantly to the success of organizations. Her upbringing instilled in her a strong sense of determination, always pushing her to strive for the best version of herself. This internal drive, combined with her ability to inspire others to embrace their true authentic selves, enabled her to make valuable contributions to the organizations she’s been a part of. Her life experiences and personal growth have molded her into a leader who not only understands the dynamics of a successful organization but also possesses the empathy and insight needed to effect positive change within the human resource industry.

“Be the change you want to see in the world!”

Adding Value Is a Crucial Measure of Success

Myra believes that adding value is a crucial measure of success and defines success as witnessing tangible outcomes that reflect her contributions and generate substantial improvements in the financial well-being of the company. This entails setting goals and persevering, ensuring that the desired outcomes are achieved, such as delivering results that benefit the shareholders.

Success is also closely linked to cultivating an engaged workforce, where everyone is aligned and working together toward achieving the organization’s strategic objectives. “When your employees are motivated, committed, and moving in the same direction, it greatly enhances the likelihood of attaining the company’s overall plan. This unified effort not only strengthens the organization but also contributes to individual growth and accomplishment, forming an integral part of my perception of success,” she observes.

Confronting Challenges Head-On to Learn Invaluable Lessons

Myra firmly believes that challenges play a crucial role in shaping and strengthening our character, and act as catalysts for personal and professional growth, propelling us out of our comfort zones and into the realm of the unknown. “As a mother and career professional, challenges exist every day, and without challenges life would lack purpose and our journey would be devoid of meaningful experiences. As human beings, we’re innately wired to learn, adapt, and evolve,” she notes.

Myra affirms that challenges provide us with opportunities to acquire new skills, broaden our horizons, and develop resilience. They push us beyond our limits, forcing us to confront our fears and embrace change. Each challenge we encounter becomes a stepping stone towards self-improvement, enabling us to discover our true potential.

“Throughout my professional journey, I’ve encountered numerous roadblocks that have imparted valuable lessons. These obstacles have often tested my abilities, requiring me to make tough decisions and navigate uncharted territories. They have stretched my capabilities, encouraging me to explore more innovative solutions and think outside the box,” Myra shares.

Confronting these challenges head-on taught her invaluable lessons about perseverance, adaptability, and problem-solving. Failures did not discourage her but rather served as opportunities for growth. Each setback taught her to analyze the situation, identify areas for improvement, and learn from her mistakes. The wisdom gained from these experiences allowed her to become more efficient, strategic, and agile in her professional endeavors.

Gaining Experience in Managing Multiple Markets

Before joining SMARTECH, Myra’s professional journey encompassed diverse industries, including working for ASX-listed and other global companies and leading their Asia Pacific HR organizations. She held various roles that allowed her to develop a comprehensive understanding of different facets of the business world.

“In previous roles, I was responsible for formulating and implementing actionable HR operational strategies across multiple countries within the region. This experience allowed me to gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities present in diverse markets. Now with ten years’ experience behind me and managing multiple markets, I’m confident in myself and felt a strong desire to explore further growth opportunities,” Myra states.

It was at this time that Myra was successful in securing the role and the opportunity to join SMARTECH, a prominent player in the technology industry. Accepting the position of Chief People and Culture Officer, she took on the responsibility of leading the Asia Pacific region. This role not only offered a chance to contribute her expertise and experience but also aligned perfectly with her aspirations for professional growth.

Contributing To the Development of a High-Performance Culture

As the Chief People and Culture Officer at SMARTECH Business Systems, Myra leads a regional team which oversees people and culture operations spanning multiple regions, including Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific Region. Her role encompasses various responsibilities centered around people and culture strategies.

Within this scope, she ensures the implementation of robust work performance systems and the development of comprehensive people policies. She also focuses on creating career development programs, conducting talent reviews quarterly, and is dedicated to driving initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization.

Another vital aspect of Myra’s role involves strategic workforce planning and active involvement in mergers and acquisitions, contributing to the company’s inorganic growth. Additionally, she prioritizes the well-being of its employees by implementing work health and safety programs and spearheading initiatives related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

“My expertise has played a crucial role in assisting with the growth and success of SMARTECH Business Systems. When I joined the organization two years ago, SMARTECH was undergoing a major organizational transformation and required workforce modernization to remain competitive in the technology industry. As part of a restructuring effort, my role was designed to assist with the development of a high-performance culture expected by the CEO, the executive leadership team and shareholders,” Myra reveals.

Laying A Solid Foundation for Future Growth and Success

During her initial year at SMARTECH, Myra’s primary focus was on rebuilding the requisite global HR policies, managing talent sourcing and retention, as well as working with the executive leadership team to reshape the company’s values and culture.

This emphasis on cultivating a positive work environment and aligning it with the organization’s goals assisted the executive leadership team with building a solid foundation for future success. In 2023, as a result of collective efforts and shareholder support and under the stewardship of our Group CEO, SMARTECH witnessed a remarkable turnaround, achieving significant growth in earnings compared to previous years. This impressive growth can also be attributed to the successful implementation of talent development strategies, fostering a culture of excellence, and optimizing work performance systems.

“As we moved into 2022 and 2023, I’m continuing to focus on rebuilding and expanding our talent pool, as well as refining our work performance systems. By strengthening our workforce and ensuring that we have the right people in the right roles, we’re positioning SMARTECH for further incremental earnings growth,” Myra explains.

“Don’t get caught up in the details and focus on the principles.”

HR Professionals Must Be Diligent, Agile, Risk-Takers, And Maintain a Human Touch

Myra observes that the HR industry is experiencing a dynamic transformation, so the significance of technology and innovative ideas cannot be overstated. The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted tremendous pressure on workforce management, requiring HR professionals to be diligent, agile, risk-takers, and maintain a human touch. Although these factors may seem contradictory, businesses today face time constraints and need to compare current sourcing practices to those in the past.

Technology has emerged as a vital enabler for recruitment in this changing landscape. Teams, platforms like Zoom, and comprehensive candidate research have become essential tools for HR professionals. These technological advancements empower hiring managers, enabling them to prepare for interviews effectively and make rapid decisions.

“In my experience, I was involved in implementing a global HRMS, this new system was implemented in May 2022, replacing Connx with Employment Hero. The project spanned six months, including scoping, diagnostics, establishing a business case, and obtaining budget approval from the board. The new HRMS proved to be more robust, transparent, and provided better reporting and visibility,” Myra observes.

Achieving Stellar Results Towards Earnings and Employee Satisfaction

Myra believes that one of the key indicators of achievement is having an engaged workforce that’s aligned with the company’s vision, mission, and values. Furthermore, it’s crucial for them to feel a strong sense of belonging, which directly translates into their daily responsibilities and accomplishments. “I’m proud to share that we recently conducted an employee engagement satisfaction survey, and the results were highly encouraging. With over 90 percent participation, 80 percent of our workforce expressed satisfaction and, more importantly, they have faith in our organization’s commitment to their well-being,” Myra reveals.

SMARTECH strives to ensure that its employees understand they are valued assets contributing to the overall success and health of our business. This necessitates ongoing communication and collaboration with all stakeholders, both internal and external, to embed its core principles of transparency, accountability, and inclusion in the day-to-day operations, whether it be interactions with customers or suppliers. This year, they have also been privileged to participate in the esteemed Australian Employer of Choice 2023 program for their industry.

“It will be an honor to showcase our employees and highlight the exceptional work we undertake daily to propel our business to new heights of success,” Myra declares. “In terms of my professional achievements, our contribution towards SMARTECH’s earnings turnaround since 2021 is what motivates me and my team each day. The process of rebuilding the workforce, systems, processes, and employee culture to help our leadership team deliver such a remarkable business result stands as my most significant professional achievement.”

In terms of SMARTECH’s future, Myra’s strategic vision revolves around fostering the best in their employees via effective HR programs, to ensure that all robust policies and practices exist to bring the best out of everyone and to support the executive leadership team to achieve their goals.

“It’s imperative to recognize that while our products and solutions are undeniably crucial to deliver, it is ultimately our dedicated team members who truly distinguish us and determine our success or failure in meeting the expectations of both our shareholders and customers,” Myra insists.

She plans to further implement initiatives that foster a positive work environment, enhance teamwork, and encourage open communication and collaboration across all levels of the organization. “Recognizing and appreciating the contributions of our team members will be instrumental in promoting a sense of ownership, motivation, and loyalty, ultimately driving our collective success,” Myra maintains.

“Never lose sight of the fact that people are on their own journey, therefore never compare your life to others!”

An Inspiring Leader Leading by Example and Inspiring Others Through Action

As the Chief People and Culture Officer of SMARTECH, Myra’s primary responsibility is to cultivate and strengthen its organizational culture across the Asia Pacific region. She’s dedicated to sourcing, retaining, and developing talented individuals within each country they operate in. A significant aspect of her role involves focusing on workplace engagement and employee productivity, recognizing the vital connection between employee happiness and overall business success.

“By fostering an environment where employees feel valued and motivated, we can enhance productivity and drive positive outcomes. To achieve this, I oversee various initiatives such as reward and recognition programs, promoting information sharing, empowering our employees, fostering a sense of pride in our organization, ensuring job satisfaction, and prioritizing employee wellbeing. These areas are pivotal in creating a positive work environment that fosters growth and productivity,” she says.

With a typical workday that’s diverse and dynamic, Myra engages in strategic planning sessions with the executive team to align people and culture objectives with the company’s overall vision. She also collaborates closely with her regional team, all managers, and team leaders to implement policies and programs that support the employees’ growth and well-being.

“I often dedicate time to connecting with employees at various levels within the organization, including through town hall meetings, holding one-on-one discussions, or organizing team-building activities to foster a sense of unity and belonging,” says Myra. As an inspirational leader, she strives to inspire others through her actions, ideas, and dedication to making a positive impact in the world. With an open mind and a passion for contributing to meaningful change, she aims to lead by example and motivate others to do the same.

Accommodating The Diverse Needs of The Workforce

Ensuring a work-life balance is a crucial aspect of Myra’s approach to maintaining personal and professional well-being. As a devoted mother and having a family with a 6-year-old daughter, she prioritizes her parental responsibilities alongside work commitments.

Noting that modern technology has played a pivotal role in facilitating work/life balance by enabling alternative methods of work engagement, Myra remarks that it grants employees the flexibility to balance their personal and professional commitments more efficiently. However, situations will demand physical presence in the workplace due to conventional expectations regarding productivity.

“Considering my current life stage, I’m fortunate to operate optimally in both my personal and professional domains, thanks to the support and flexibility provided by my employer and my family. I’m grateful to have an employer who recognizes the significance of achieving this balance and acknowledges that peak performance can only be attained when all aspects of life are effectively managed,” says Myra.

To her, the concept of work/life balance is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as it varies depending on individual circumstances and the unique needs of employees. Some individuals may have multiple children or additional obligations that require flexibility from their employers. Hence, employers need to exhibit understanding and accommodate the diverse needs of their workforce.

Cultivate A Positive Work Culture That Fosters Collaboration, Respect, and Support

Myra’s message to aspiring leaders in the human resource industry is that while it’s natural to be driven by personal income satisfaction and ambitious career expectations, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of self-development, mentorship from seasoned leaders, apply positive personal life experiences to enhance the workplace and adhere to personal values when pursuing professional success.

“In my own journey, I’ve found that true job satisfaction stems from more than just achieving results. It’s equally important to cultivate a positive work culture that fosters collaboration, respect, and support among team members. A great work environment, where individuals feel valued and empowered, can significantly contribute to personal and collective growth,” she states.

Additionally, Myra believes that having a supportive Executive leadership team plays a vital role in realizing one’s professional aspirations. “Working under leaders who not only provide guidance but also create opportunities for professional development and advancement, can be immensely impactful. Their mentorship and expertise can help shape your career trajectory and enhance your leadership capabilities,” she recommends.

“As an HR leader, you don’t just want to exist in your profession, but want to live your profession by making a difference!”