“THERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD UP CANADIAN EXPERTISE
ON REMOVING BARRIERS, BOTH FORMAL AND INFORMAL, WITHIN
THE RECRUITING, HIRING AND DEVELOPING PROCESS IN ORDER TO
ENSURE SUCCESS FOR BOTH EMPLOYER AND YOUTH EMPLOYEES.”
to be happening here. It can be something very tactical and in the
weeds, but it can also be developing our strategic long-term plan.
You have to be very agile to shift from the tactical to the strategic
on a daily basis, and I enjoy that.
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
LR: One of the challenges for me was that I had never led a unionized
team in Canada, so the labour relations piece was new. Also,
I think the challenge comes from just dealing with diversity every
day. Everything from meeting my P&L numbers to developing a
marketing strategy, to dealing with people and supplier issues, and
all the different things that happen on a daily basis. It’s extremely
fast-paced; I could be dealing with all of those things within the
space of an hour. It’s also challenging to work as a business within
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult
time for a client organization?
LR: I think the key is to understand how HR can help the business
be successful. What that means is possibly paring back projects
that HR considers important, and focusing on things that really
need to get done now. Having the ability to respond to internal
and external factors is critical, as well as being able to flex and concentrate
on bringing value to help grow the business.
What skills are important for success in HR?
LR: The main thing is to understand how an organization operates
and delivers value, and how what you do contributes to that.
You need self-awareness, meaning you need to know how you and
HR in general are being perceived in the organization. I do think
the key is core technical HR knowledge and business acumen. You
need to understand how the business makes money, and who the
customers are. What makes your business unique? That affects
your value proposition and your people strategy; it’s all related.
What tips do you have for new grads or those in entrylevel
HR jobs who want to move up the ladder?
LR: First, find someone in the job you want to have in 10 years,
and chat with them. See how you can learn from them, and find
out how they got there. I think understanding that can help people
decide if they really want it for themselves. Sometimes, people
get where they want to be and don’t want to be there anymore!
Second, absorb as much as you can from really strong leaders
and figure out what makes them successful. Third, gain as much
experience across as many parts of HR as possible, especially compensation
and recruitment. I truly believe those areas will always
be in demand. Finally, work in different industries so you can move
laterally or move up, without being pigeonholed into one industry.
Always say yes to opportunities that come your way!
What’s the future of HR?
LR: I think it’s about understanding and applying data to help make
and prioritize decisions. I think that’s the key to everything. n
First job: I worked for a small neighbourhood burger bar
from age 14. I loved it; I learned a lot and I met my best friend
Childhood ambition: To be a criminal lawyer. I still
plan to become a lawyer at some point; even if I never use it,
I do plan to study law.
Best boss and why: I worked for a couple of inspirational
leaders at Rabobank. For me, their common trait was
that they trusted me to get the job done, and then gave me
feedback that was meaningful.
Current source of inspiration: My husband, who
is a very busy executive himself. He’s my professional and
personal role model. He has a Ph.D.; he’s so disciplined and
focused, and he inspires me to be better every day.
Best piece of advice you ever got: Listen before
Favourite music: The music I grew up with: 1980s alternative.
Give me that music any day!
Last book you read: It was Unfinished Empire: The
Global Expansion of Britain by John Darwin.
How you spend your time away from work: I
enjoy reading history and I’m starting grad school in June;
I also like cycling, cooking and watching British crime
shows like George Gently or Inspector Morse – you name
it, I watch it.
IN A NUTSHELL
46 ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2016 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL