HR Director Retha Du Plessis initially began her Griffith MBA to expand her skillset but she ended up finding a purpose that motivated her beyond her 9-5 work.
“I first decided to go back and study because I realised I knew a lot about HR but not about general business culture. That is what motivated me, initially,” she says.
“Then Griffith really changed the way that I look at the working environment. My Griffith MBA opened my eyes as there’s so much more opportunities to get involved in something that isn’t just your day job. Following on from the Sustainability module and the amazing ideas that came out of that particular subject… it was mind blowing. I realised that the ideas could be so simple, but they could make such a huge difference to people.”
The opportunity for Retha to make a difference presented itself at a networking night, when she crossed paths with both the CEO and the HR Board Director of Suited to Success/Dress for Success.
“Suited to Success/Dress for Success is an organisation that helps people overcome barriers to employment,” she explains. “They provide styling services to people when they are going for interviews, and they also support them with resume tips and tricks, and interview tips as to how to present themselves when they are actually going for an interview.”
“I thought, ‘My skills I learnt in my MBA are so transferable to any organisation, any sector, any industry so why not use them in a way that helps people?’”
Initially Retha volunteered with the organisation for six months to help them through a significant restructure. Now, alongside her full-time job as an HR Director, she volunteers her time as the new Board Director. It’s a role that motivates her every day.
“I do believe everyone involved is doing incredible work,” she says. “We really try to help people feel much more confident when they walk out of here so that when they walk into an employer’s office they are well-presented, confident and know how to go through that whole process.
“Seeing people’s whole demeanor change when they walk out of here – they just light up and stand that bit taller – it’s really rewarding.”
Suited to Success receives no government funding, so donations and organisational partnerships are incredibly important to their day-to-day business. It’s one of the reasons Griffith University has now partnered with the charity, a move that Retha says works so well because of the shared values between both the organisations.
“Griffith connects to the business world much more than other universities do, I think,” Retha explains. “And we both have the same end goals: to make a difference in the world, and to set people up in the best way possible for them to be able to enter the workforce. It was a natural partnership with the same ethos.”
Retha says that the partnership will consist of clothing drives through the University, interns volunteering their time within the organisation, and even working with some students from the Business School on special projects.
“The partnership goes both ways, the university helps us and we help the students get that volunteering experience and opportunities in the workplace,” she says.
“Suited to Success/Dress for Success is a simple idea but it changes people’s lives. So just knowing that, and connecting with that makes me believe that this is a good connection for me. I just didn’t feel like that before what I learnt at Griffith.”