“I am grateful for each day that I can be of service and be part of a unique organisation.”

“I am grateful for each day that I can be of service and be part of a unique organisation.”

Shirley Frundt is The Union’s Global Human Resources (HR) Coordinator based in Paris.

She has over 25 years’ experience in human resources, but HR did not feature in her early career plan.  She began her working life as a journalist on a local newspaper and later worked in public relations in England. Though these roles were unrelated to HR, for Shirley they had one thing in common – they were about people. 

Born in Singapore, Shirley comes from an international background and has worked for global companies including Accenture and SmithKline Beecham (now Glaxo SmithKline). It was when she moved to France with her family over 30 years ago that she made the transition from journalism to HR.

Social welfare and justice has always been close to Shirley’s heart. Before joining The Union in June 2008, she worked for six months as a volunteer for UNICEF in Beijing, China, in 2003 and later for UK Charity, CORD.

Together with colleagues Nawel Saady and Guillaume Ould Aoudia, and under the leadership of Global HR Director, Nathalie Emaille-Léotard, the Global HR team are responsible for managing over 850 employees and consultants.  As the HR Focal Point, Shirley is the key person in the organisation for overseeing the Union’s HR policies and procedures as well as managing the contracts of employment.

Her role means that she has to be familiar with the employment laws of each country where The Union operates. She works closely with lawyers to ensure the contracts are legally compliant. Colleagues also come to her with a vast range of queries – including guidance on policies and procedures and advice on employment relations and issues.

It seems a huge and daunting task but Shirley is not overwhelmed. She says: “For me, the key to getting things done each day is to stay focused and to pay attention to the needs of the offices and consultants, and if that requires starting a little earlier, or finishing a little later in the day, that's part of my role. Our staff have many challenges to deal with on a daily basis, so the least I can do is to make their work easier by being available for them and responding as efficiently as I can to their requests.”

When asked about her motivation Shirley says: “As a Global HR Coordinator, we are in a position that enables us to have an overview of work practices across the organisation and to promote a culture of equal opportunities and working standards for all our employees and consultants, and to strengthen the identity of being one global organisation. I find it extremely rewarding to be in a position where I can work across a number of different departments and offices.”

HR might not be seen to be the frontline of The Union’s work, but it is part of the inner workings of an organisation that is essential to its smooth running. Shirley hopes that her role has a positive impact in the overall, bigger picture of The Union’s goals, by bringing a human face to HR.  “We have a duty to be attentive to our employees and consultants, to their health, safety and wellbeing. Research has shown that a healthy and happy workforce is more motivated and productive, and this translates into greater efficiency and results.”

Shirley has certainly made her mark within the organisation and takes great satisfaction from her work. When she joined the organisation there were only two full time HR professionals – the HR Director and herself. At the time there was a move to decentralise the HR processes from Paris headquarters to the Union’s offices based all over the world and Shirley was instrumental in helping to lay down the foundation for today’s Global HR SOP (Standard Operating Procedures).

“Today I am happy to see that the offices are able to manage their human resources themselves and, if they need some advice, Global HR is always there to support them.”

It is clear that Shirley is hugely proud to work for The Union and is one of its biggest advocates.  

Attending the world conference this year in The Hague, Shirley recalls a special moment at the opening ceremony: “I remember going into the auditorium and looking around the room gradually being filled with thousands of people, but not just any kind of people, they were some of the finest and grandest healthcare experts who had travelled from around the world to be especially at the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health ... I thought to myself how fortunate I was to be a part of The Union, an organisation founded almost 100 years ago. How many other organisations like ours can boast of such a heritage?”

There is one particular cause that Shirley is particularly attracted to and which goes back to the time when she worked with UNICEF - the DETECT Child TB project. She says: “It is The Union that is drawing world attention on the call for action against childhood TB. 

 “I think all would agree that it is intolerable to see a child suffer from TB or any illness that is potentially life-threatening. There is no reason for it to happen because if TB is detected sufficiently in advance and treated, children rarely die from it.  We are fortunate to have a team in Uganda who are championing the DETECT Child TB project and are piloting a model that uses online training and a mobile smartphone app to educate and empower frontline health workers to provide TB screening at the community level. Every child has the right to have access to healthcare - and grow up to live a full and healthy life as adults.”

At the moment she is working with her HR peers on the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) online tool that will strengthen the operational management and systems in The Union.

“It’s a great example of collaboration across The Union,” she says.

Shirley explains why she approaches her job in this way, recalling a time when she had to collaborate with a colleague who worked in a different department in Paris.

“During the short time that I worked with him, I saw a person who possessed such grace, humility, gentleness, kindness and goodness that I have rarely seen all combined in a single human being. He took pride in his work, to give his best, and always had consideration for others. It was a lesson for me.”

For Shirley, such values are engrained in her work ethics and in what she brings to The Union.

She says: “I live in a country, France, where I have access to some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world, but everyone should have  an equal right to healthcare; in this regard, The Union carries a heavy responsibility to ensure that the vulnerable living in the poorest communities have access to healthcare. Earlier, I mentioned that in HR we have a duty of care to our staff. I also feel that The Union has a duty of care toward its beneficiaries. We owe it to the founding members of The Union to continue their legacy. I am grateful for each day that I can be of service and be part of a unique organisation that is making its footprint on the world stage of public health - to bring an end to tuberculosis and advocate health solutions for those living in poverty.”

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