Cheryl Fullerton makes sure she gets the most from each and every experience. A
self-described “thinker and analyzer,” she’s made it her business from an early age
to study corporate leadership to gain insight into company performance.
Today, Fullerton is VP of leadership at Maple Leaf Foods, the consumer packaged
meat company that has been operating in Canada for more than a century. Based at
the company’s Mississauga head office, she and her team of about 40 HR professionals deliver
solutions that drive the company’s human resources strategy.
HR Professional asked Fullerton to reflect on some of the lessons she has learned during
her 20-plus years in HR. Among other insights, she said the smartest thing one can do is
to take a job outside the HR realm at least once in their career.
HRP: What was your first HR job?
Cheryl Fullerton: During university, I had a summer job in the pension and benefits department
of The Oshawa Group, a national chain of supermarkets. It was a very routine
HR role; I had to manually verify employee health coverage. To keep it interesting, I challenged
myself by seeing how many I could do in an hour. I got so fast that I had free time,
so then they taught me how to adjudicate medical claims and process payments.
HRP: How and when did you decide upon an HR career?
CF: While at The Oshawa Group, I got interested in the pension and benefits field. It satisfied
my need to have deep specialist knowledge in something complex, so I decided to
stick with it for a while. I got fascinated watching the senior executives in the company
and really studied how they set strategy, how they communicated, motivated and built a
following. I got so passionate about leadership that I decided to build my career in HR.
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ JANUARY 2015 ❚ 51