Swisse Wellness case study

The challenge

Success means rapid growth for Swisse Wellness. For the Melbourne-based health and wellness company, the FY2009-FY2012 saw profits rocket, with revenues increasing by 357 per cent to $180 million in 2012.

Swisse holds a simple principle as central to its success: people before profits. As head of people at Swisse, Catherine Crowley focuses on developing strategic HR practices that cultivate sustainable growth by supporting the company’s people.

“The program really helped consolidate my real-world knowledge with practical methodologies that underpin sustainable strategic growth. I’m much more confident in my corporate communication skills. I have the language and the theory I need when reporting to the board.”

Catherine Crowley
Head of People | Swisse Wellness

‘We’ve doubled in size in the last 12 months and will probably double again in the next 12 months. There are lots of changes for the people and the needs of the business,’ Catherine says. With 15 years of practical experience in HR, Catherine understands the value of people in business. ‘People are assets, not costs,’ she says.

It’s a principle often discussed at board meetings. ‘Reporting to the board was new to me,’ Catherine remembers. ‘I wanted to go in there and have far more business-focused conversations about why initiatives are important and what the return was going to be for those HR investments.’

The solution

In June 2012, Catherine enrolled in the Strategic HR Leadership program delivered through Melbourne Business School-Mt Eliza Executive Education. The three-day program parallels Swisse’s people-centred approach, providing theoretical backing to complement Catherine’s practical experience.

Catherine has also redefined the human resource management system and implemented some immediate systemic changes. ‘The review process is fundamental to business strategy,’ she says. Overhauling the review process and implementing a more user-friendly, organic approach, Catherine has received higher quality feedback which is essential in Swisse’s strategic planning.

‘Reviews are fantastic, but if you don’t actually do something with the information, it’s pointless,’ she says. ‘Using SMART goal setting, we’ve introduced a second formalised step to the employee review process.’ The feedback now forms a base for needs analysis and strategic goal setting for Swisse.

The impact

Six months after completing the program, Catherine describes it as thought-provoking, educational and practical. ‘With my experience and skills gap, it was perfect. I’ve bridged that gap between the practical and the theoretical. It has allowed me to support our people in being their best.’