Orange is the New Sydney! My RIC Story.
HR Manager Ben Casey was one of the first staff on board when the RIC opened its doors in Orange in January this year.
A career HR professional, Ben was a Sydneysider through and through. So how did he end up developing and implementing innovative people strategies at the Regional Investment Corporation in Orange, regional NSW? I recently sat down with him to find out just that!
So Ben, we are a long way from the busy streets of Sydney city centre! What attracted you to the opportunity to be part of the inaugural RIC team?
When I came across advertised roles with the RIC, the chance to join a newly established government organisation and help build the team from the ground up was incredibly appealing.
I was working 70-hour weeks with a commute of almost 3 hours each day. I was always exhausted but so was everyone else I lived and worked with. I had always thought that was just the norm! It wasn’t until I realised life didn’t have to be that way that I really became open to opportunities outside of Sydney so the fact that the RIC was located in Orange was also a huge draw card.
Sounds like your eyes have been opened to a new reality then?
Oh absolutely! Once you have seen what life can be outside of what you thought was “normal”, it’s very hard to imagine ever going back! Not only is my commute now non-existent, but my overall health and wellbeing is also improving! There is this tension you don’t even realise you’re carrying when you live and work in a big city. Everything is a rush. A rush to make it into the office on time. A rush from the pub after work to make you sure you don’t miss the train. A rush to get your coffee in the morning so the local café doesn’t run out of your favourite muffin! Without even noticing, your stress levels are constantly on the rise. And that’s without even adding the stress that comes from your job or life commitments.
Here the pace is much healthier. But that doesn’t mean it’s slow! It just means that you can actually stop and appreciate moments as they come. You can walk the long way to work because it’s still only going to take 10 minutes. You can enjoy a relaxing beer after work without having to rush and sit on the train for an hour and a half. And, you can stop by your favourite café for a coffee and a muffin without stressing about the 50 people in line in front of you!
What is it about living and working in Orange that you find so appealing?
Like I mentioned, it’s really the lifestyle. Orange has all the facilities and amenities of a big city without the stress. I love the country town charm, mixed with all the shops and services I am used to. The local community are also very friendly and welcoming. That certainly wasn’t always the case back in Sydney!
Honestly, I have met quite a few people who were in a similar boat to me and have also moved out of the big cities. Every single one has agreed with me that it’s been a really positive change for their health and wellbeing and don’t regret the move one bit!
And what is your role at the RIC?
As the HR Manager of a brand-new team, it actually covers a lot of things! There are the usual systems, policies and procedures, recruitment, work health and safety, performance management and remuneration that comes with the role, but what has been really interesting is the fact that we were a brand-new organisation! That means we have been able to build the organisation from the beginning in a really positive and collaborate way. It also gives us the opportunity to establish the team, the processes, the products and the culture!
Can you tell us more about the culture of the team?
Being such a new organisation, our team are really great at seeing the big picture and the long-term goals we are all working towards. Still being relatively small, everyone is also great at working collaboratively and creatively together. There are often positive and productive debates taking place across teams. Rather than an issue becoming a roadblock, the team is always thinking outside the box to solve problems.
We work hard, but it’s a great social energy in the office. We have a few cooks and bakers so often have nice morning teas and team lunches. Everyone is very friendly, and we have flexible working arrangements which means staff aren’t stressed about leaving to pick up a child early or working from home when needed.
And where do you see the team heading in the next 12 months?
A big focus of the next 12 months will be working hard to increase awareness of the purpose and intent of the RIC. To help establish the brand and to improve understanding of our position within the finance community.
We are also looking toward the future, toward developing the skills of existing staff and bringing in new team members to support the organisations continued growth. It’s an exciting phase for the business as the expansion of the team is a direct reflection of the success gained in just a year of operation.