Above: ACU Chief Operating Officer Dr Stephen Weller presents Director of Human Resources Diana Chegwidden with a certificate of recognition for 25 years service at ACU.
25 reasons to celebrate
Director of Human Resources Diana Chegwidden was presented with a certificate of recognition for 25 years of service at ACU last Friday. Diana says it is a pleasure to receive the milestone certificate, and to reflect on her journey at ACU and how significantly the University has changed since formally commencing in 1991.
"There are many reasons to celebrate being part of ACU's evolution, both on a personal and professional level," Diana said.
Here are 25 of the highlights:
Bright beginnings: "I certainly have fond memories of the Commencement ceremony of Australian Catholic University at Sydney Town Hall in 1991. You knew then that you were part of a very special moment that would become history."
Telephones on desks: "Believe it or not, not all staff had their own phone on their desk in the early nineties - we had communal phones within some of the areas. Individual desk phones only became commonplace some years later."
Manual maneuvers: "I clearly remember completing my first staff file for the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) in 1990, and manually reconciling year-on-year for new starters and separations. This started my journey to implement online recording of meaningful data on staff. To be able to do reports online for validation or exceptions… it's a difference of work that would have taken two to four weeks, now takes two to four!"
It's all about the data: "I was proud to be part of the project team to implement the electronic PayGlobal system in 2003, which houses our payroll and staff details. With the exception of one retirement, all of the project team members are still with ACU today. PayGlobal represented a real turning point for ACU. Through capturing a common set of data electronically, you can see trends and patterns and you can identify risks and risk-mitigate."
Getting connected: "Another turning point was the introduction of the Staff Connect online system, which allowed electronic leave applications. It provided an automated process for the staff member, and transparency for the supervisors. Before the time of Staff Connect, paper-based leave inputting would have been a full-time job. Now, the task would be the equivalent of two days per fortnight."
Common conditions: "I enjoyed being one of the contributors to the development and implementation of standardized conditions for all ACU staff through the first certified Uniform Conditions Agreement in 1994. This helped establish a common pay date and process, and set the scene for future common employment conditions in all our locations. This work enabled us to become a unified organization. Prior to this, every jurisdiction had had its own (and very different) employment conditions."
Working up a rosy HEW: "I also remember when the Structural Efficiency Classification Structure Agreement introduced Higher Education Worker (HEW) levels in 1993. HEW levels were a classification system for professional roles. ACU formed a national committee to translate our professional staff positions onto the new incremental progression scales and come up with a table of the temporary steps. We went through the process of classifying 111 positions across the University, which supported benchmarking across the different locations."
Lotus unfolds national identity: "I think when our first electronic messaging system for emails (Lotus Notes) was introduced in 1997, this was when we first felt truly connected as a national university."
Promoting promotions: "I was the Executive Officer on the first national Academic Promotions rounds circa 1994 which were chaired by Professor Wolfgang Grichting. This set ACU up with a common set of assessment and evaluation measures that could ensure consistency of outcomes from the promotions application process."
An unexpected call: "One day in 1998, while the AHEIA Conference was on in Melbourne, I received a call from ACU staff at the conference to let me know about the new Higher Education Contract of Employment Award - which required near-immediate implementation. It meant that I needed to work quickly to clear all offers that might be impacted by the provisions of the new award!"
The surprising journey to centre stage: "For most of my time at ACU, I have been an implementer of what the University needed, particularly to meet regulatory requirements. I have been behind-the-scenes, which has given me a heightened understanding of the conditions, where they come from, and how to implement them. But when I was involved as contributor to the first certified staff agreement in 1994, I never could have imagined that in later years I would be playing a lead role in Enterprise Bargaining, as the Director of Human Resources."
Who could forget HEWRRs?: "Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRS)… This was WorkChoices by stealth to the higher education sector…. Enterprise Bargaining (to be HEWRRs-compliant) meant a complete rewrite of the Staff Enterprise Agreement from September 2005, with certification by November 2005. Now that's what I call a good bargaining round!"
Executive Retreat: "It was a pleasure to be involved in the first week-long ACU Executive/Management Retreat at Marsfield in 1994, where key University directions and national projects were advanced."
The HR and Finance Christmas breakfasts: "Or in fact, any celebration held on the verandah of the Edmund Rice Building... (the verandah was consequently deemed unsafe and required some reinforced construction)."
Painting the town red with white lies: "Colleagues organized a surprise party for me when I turned 40. David Keegan told me a series of fibs to get me to accompany him to a supposed UniSuper client meeting, but really we ended up travelling to a surprise birthday lunch!"
Shared foundations: "Another significant moment was the move to co-locate most of the Human Resources team at one site on levels 14 and 15 of Tenison Woods House, North Sydney."
World Youth Day Australia: "I was a WYD volunteer, and I'll never forget the celebration. ACU hosted pilgrims and held a public event at Strathfield which thousands of people attended. I was part of the welcoming committee, greeting people as they came on site. The entertainment was amazing, we had African drummers on campus with 300 to 400 drums – it was massive!"
Being in choice company: "I am proud of ACU's first EOWA Employer of Choice for Women citation in 2011… OK, and the second, and the subsequent!"
Bagging a big one: "The EOWA Citation holders could choose make an application for further awards based on particular outcomes achieved. We applied for the EOWA Business Achievement for large employers, although when we saw who we were up against, we thought we had Buckley's chance. Later, when Anne Cummins, Kim O'Brien, Alisse Grafitti and myself went to 2011 EOWA presentation luncheon, we were absolutely shocked to hear that ACU had won the award category for Leading Organisation for the Advancement of Women (>800 employees)!"
New look for recruiting: "I enjoyed the opportunity to enhance our recruitment brand to support the expansion of ACU. Adopting a different recruitment approach and different creative for our advertisements attracted questions from the sector, as well as new talent to ACU."
Unions and beginnings: "No, not that Union!!! It has been lovely to celebrate all the weddings and new arrivals that have occurred at ACU over the years."
Pioneering parental provisions: "ACU's Paid Parental Leave provisions were the first of their kind in the sector and across other industries."
Desk-hopping: "I've had 14 office changes in the 25 years I've been at ACU! I think this really shows the growth and the adaptability of the University community."
National expansion: "It has been satisfying to watch ACU grow into seven campuses - and now with the addition of the Centre in Rome, it really shows ACU's growth and its strength to strength."
Experiencing the three Es: "The University's journey of establishment, expansion and excellence has been a most energizing one!"