OF THE CURVE
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leaders who are ready to face increasing complexity and
change, while keeping their organizations ahead of the
curve. At The Banff Centre, we inspire leaders to make
a meaningful difference for their organizations, their
communities – and themselves.
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my instructors at Sheridan, was the HR
director at Nortel. She had me interview
for two jobs, one in marketing and a sec-ond
role in the personnel department. She
didn’t have to encourage me to go into
HR, but she saw something in me.
HRP: Describe your last job.
LD: As CHRO at Maple Leaf Foods, my
areas of responsibility included everything
from hiring to retiring. We were involved
in performance management, leadership
development, compensation, benefits,
training, promotions, succession planning,
labour relations – everything to do with
the 20,000 people in the organization.
HRP: What did you like
about your job?
LD: I liked that it offered total account-ability
for the HR function, working very
closely with the CEO and the manage-ment
team, as well as the board. I never
expected to go back to work full-time, and
it actually reinvigorated me to try to do
things in a way that was faster than ever
before. It was like a second chance at doing
something as fast and as effectively as pos-sible.
I only had three years to complete
HRP: What were some of the
challenges of your job?
LD: Part of the restructuring plan in-volved
closing factories. There were
multiple plant closures to announce and
complete. From a human perspective, that
was the most difficult challenge. But I do
think Maple Leaf Foods does it well. As an
example, the company tends to give a long
notice for a plant closure – up to three
years, where some companies do it in six
months or less.
HRP: What’s the key to leading
HR during a difficult time
for a client organization?
LD: Make sure you have a people strategy
for the HR function, so that everyone in
the department understands your people
strategy and how it supports the business
strategy. The two must be linked. Second,
you can’t over-communicate your progress
to the organization. Third, reward and
recognize your people. You actually have
to be more visible in the difficult times.
HRP: What skills are important
for success in HR?
LD: You must have good business acumen
– in other words, you must understand
the business you’re in and how it makes
money. In HR, the biggest skill is the abil-ity
to attract, develop and lead people. You
must have the ability to recognize and as-sess
talent, and be able to coach people to
become better leaders.
HRP: What tips do you have for new
grads or those in entry-level HR jobs
who want to move up the ladder?
LD: Here’s an example from Maple Leaf
Foods: in 2012, we hired a university grad
with a master’s in human resources and la-bour
relations, and put her in a three-year
training program. She worked the first
year in production, then the next year as a
sales rep and in the third year, we plan to
introduce her to HR. If a person can un-derstand
how products are made and sold,
they will have so much more credibility in
74 ❚ MAY/JUNE 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL