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HRIA Young Professional of the Year: Tom’s Year of Opportunity

Camden Hire’s Tom Wood, Young Professional of the Year in 2023, looks back on a year of life-changing experiences.

WHEN THE RECIPIENT OF THIS YEAR’S HRIA YOUNG PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR was announced at HIRE24, Tom Wood knew exactly what would await them in the year ahead: amazing opportunities to learn, develop and give back to the industry. It’s what Tom calls an enormously exciting yet humbling experience. “I was so honoured to receive this recognition,” he says. “It was pretty overwhelming, but it means so much to me.”

The HRIA Young Professional of the Year recognises young professionals who’ve contributed to the Hire industry and thrived within the Young Professionals Development Program.
“The development and learning opportunities I’ve had and the incredible connections I’ve made from this program have been amazing,” says Tom. “It’s all been reward enough so winning the Award has been the icing on the cake!” Tom’s been in the industry for eight years, having started as a casual at Camden Hire in Sydney when he was 15. He says it was a ‘cooler’ job than he initially thought and much more fun than ‘getting a job at McDonalds’ because he was paid to play around with machines and learn how they work on the weekend.

At 18, he made a move from hire to real estate…a move which lasted two weeks when he realised it wasn’t the exciting, fast-paced opportunity he’d imagined. Fortunately, after
a week of unemployment, Tom ran into his old Camden Hire manager who asked if he’d consider coming back and working in their office. That was Tom’s light bulb moment. “It had
never previously crossed my mind to consider a career in Hire but here was an opportunity to keep working along a career path I’d begun forging over the past couple of years.”
He credits a visit to Hire21 on the Gold Coast as the spark that ignited his passion for the industry. “I was working hard and doing well enough, but I don’t think I had a real spark for Hire at
that stage. Then I went to the convention and met all these amazing people, saw incredible equipment on the show floor and had a whirlwind experience,” says Tom. “I came home with a new-found love of the industry, the people and the equipment we work with.” While at the convention, Tom saw a sign for a Young Professionals networking event; planting the initial seed. By sheer
coincidence, he was also contacted by Mark Simonsen from The Rental Podcast about doing an episode.

“My first thought was ‘what could I possibly contribute?’,” says Tom. “But I went along and had an awesome time chatting to Mark.” Mark connected Tom with the HRIA National Office who steered him through the HRIA Young Professionals application process for the 2022/23 intake. It’s what Tom calls a miraculous coincidence of timing where everything developed organically and for a reason. “It’s a perfect example of why this industry is so special,” he says. “An amazing team of people stepped in to support and guide me, giving their time and energy to make it happen.”
Fast forward five years and Tom is now the Site Accommodation Manager at Camden Hire. Having grown up through the business, he’s experienced everything Hire has to offer across all aspects of the business. He’s also in his final year of study – a Bachelor of Business (majoring in management) at Charles Sturt University. As part of his Young Professional of the Year award, Tom recently returned from an intensive three weeks in the United States, staying with a host family in California. He worked at their fourth-generation family business, A Tool Shed Rentals, and attended the American Rental Association (ARA) convention in New Orleans. Tom says the thought and care the ARA put into matching his values and interests with those of his host family worked seamlessly. “I now have a second family in California,” says Tom. “They’re the most beautiful people, so passionate about their industry, the people in their business and their family. That made it so much easier to slot into this crazy wild experience that is living with random strangers and working with them for two weeks!” “I’m so blown away by how it came together.”
He calls it one of his most rewarding experiences. “I didn’t think about how much I’d value the relationship and friendship I found with them to the point I was actually really emotional when I had to say goodbye.”
He’s now back at Camden Hire and ready to hand the ‘baton’ to this year’s Young Professional of the Year. “Leading up to the award, the program was amazing,” he says, “I could never have
dreamed of the experiences I’ve had in the last 12 months.” “Winning this award is a privilege, so I’d say to the next recipient, give it everything you’ve got. Say yes to opportunities that may scare you or you think might not have been for you. It’s only going to benefit you.” As for the future, Tom is eager to continue building his career at Camden Hire and give back to the industry and the HRIA. He’d also love to mentor on the Young Professionals or Women in Hire development programs at some point in the future. “I’m very passionate about Hire and would love the opportunity to support a young person in the way I’ve been supported by the industry and the HRIA.”




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