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QSO dumps its HR director in ‘restructure’

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The Queensland Symphony Orchestra told its Human Resources director his position would no longer exist on the day Daily Review revealed details of the company’s high staff turnover in the past 21 months and claims by former staff of a “toxic” workplace culture.

QSO chairman, Greg Wanchap, confirmed today that the director would leave QSO in the next three months but said it was a “mutual decision” as the company “restructured” the HR role.

“We are going through a lot of change and we need to do things differently,” said Wanchap. He will depart the QSO himself on December 31 after 12 years as chair which has included overseeing the hiring of three CEOs, including the incumbent David Pratt.

Wanchap also confirmed that QSO music director Alondra de la Parra would be leaving her post next week on maternity leave for her second child and would return to her position in July 2018.

He said the company’s artistic planning was in good hands with its current interim director of artistic planning. That staff member took over the role in May after QSO’s artistic planner of 12 years, Richard Wenn, was sacked in May resulting in legal action which has since been settled and subject to a non-disclosure clause.

Wanchap categorically rejected suggestions that QSO had a “toxic” workplace culture as aired last week by former (anonymous) staff members in Daily Review. Wanchap meets with Pratt once a week and the board meets monthly to discuss company business.

Asked if he would know if there was a toxic culture at QSO, Wanchap said: “Yes, I would know. I really would. We have a culture of inclusiveness, openness and speaking up.”

He said the 26 positions turned over in the past 21 months were for various reasons including not meeting the outcome of probation periods, contracts not being renewed and departures for other orchestras.

“Although 26 have left for various reasons, 16 of those left before Pratt and De la Parra started with QSO,” he said.

Wanchap said he didn’t know the details of those five staff who were on short term contracts, some of whom were only told of their termination a few days before their contracts were up.

“Maybe it was a mutual decision,” he said of the terminations.

Those who have come to the defence of the QSO in anonymous comments on Daily Review and in private emails have claimed a “boys’ club” existed at QSO that needed changing under Pratt. However 18 of the 26 staff who have left have been female.

Wanchap rejected suggestions of any boys’ club at the QSO.

“People will have their views in a company of this size with 82 full time musicians and 20 staff… but I am not concerned,” he said.

He said the company was performing well and would be announcing a surplus for 2017.

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2 responses to “QSO dumps its HR director in ‘restructure’

  1. Woops! Mr Wanchap gave it all away in the last words “It’s all about the bottom line! 21 persons out of a total of 100 is a haemorrhage, not
    a nose-bleed.

    Not that I believe HR as a function has any place in a creative organisation. HR is intrinsically a cost centre. More importantly,
    it tends to hire “safe” people, justifying failure on the basis of “Well, he or she met the brief”.

    At the end of the day, it is all about the musicians, the music and the quality melding of each. Time will tell.

  2. Is it unusual for a female member of staff to take maternity leave? Seems to me that Mr Gill seems to be trying to get stuck into QSO without much substance. It’s not unusual for new leadership to bring with it changes of staffing- indeed, it’s healthy – particularly when there seems to have been those who are disgruntles at having new leadership. Seems you should flesh this bit out a bit more for fairness: QSO’s artistic planner of 12 years, Richard Wenn, was sacked in May resulting in legal action which has since been settled and subject to a non-disclosure clause.

    Beat up if you ask me

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