NORM SABAPATHY, CHRE
EVP People, Cadillac Fairview
For Norm Sabapathy, leading HR
for a multinational real estate firm
means a lot of time up in the air.
But even so, there are elements of
his work that he enjoys a lot more
“I love many things about my
job. I love the fact that I can figure out how to marry together
people strategy and business strategy to make a real difference in
a business,” he said. “I love getting to work with other leaders in
other functions that inspire me to be a better leader and a better
business person. And I love working with an HR team that’s passionate
about making a difference in the business and seeing that
come to life in the organization.”
The Cadillac Fairview Corporation is one of North America’s
largest commercial real estate companies. They have a $30-billion
portfolio across countries like Canada, the U.S., Brazil and
Colombia – which means Sabapathy needs a strong strategic component
to his work in HR.
“I lead an HR team, and they are people experts focused on
maximizing the effectiveness of people in our business to drive
results,” he said. “HR is involved right from the beginning in terms
of developing and setting the strategy for the company, along with
all of the other functions. Then, the unique value that we provide
is we create a people strategy and a people plan to enable those
business goals across all the different functions.”
Holding the CHRE designation has helped him reach this
point in his career, as it’s a respected designation based on a globally
recognized body of knowledge, he says.
“It signifies that I have a higher level of skill and responsibilities
that I’ve picked up over the years, and some executive-level competencies,”
Sabapathy said. “I think the CHRO role, and HR roles
in general, are becoming increasingly demanding – and it’s important
that HR as a profession not only keep up, but step up to the
increasingly complex, demanding world that they’re operating in.
And being part of a regulatory body like HRPA is increasingly
and extremely important to that end.”
SUSAN O’DOWD, CHRE
VP Human Resources, The Hospital
for Sick Children
Working at one of the top pediatric
hospitals in the world gives Susan
O’Dowd the opportunity to work
with people at all levels who care
deeply about the children, patients
and families that they serve.
“I certainly play an important strategic role in HR – but I’m
working with people who are saving lives every day,” she said.
HR plays a particularly strategic role at Sick Kids, because the
talent they employ is highly specialized and delivers incredible
“We have a strategic map, and the people quadrant is a very
important element of that,” she said. “In addition to that, we drive
strategic initiatives… such as quality, infrastructure, innovation and
other parts of the institution’s mandate.”
The CHRE designation is an important tool in O’Dowd’s professional
kit, because it provided her with skills and expertise in new
areas of high-level HR.
“When I started my HR designation, I had been in HR for a
few years, but I had not had exposure at all to some aspects of HR.
I was able to take the courses that were part of the designation…
and I was able to learn about balance sheets, financial statements,
the whole process around unionization, and the rights and responsibilities
of employees and employers. And that was really helpful
grounding that I’m now using in my career,” she said. “The designation
is really important for not only the experiences that you acquire
while getting it, but also for keeping you current. I think it’s very
easy in an organization to only look at HR or the business from
the aspect of the business that you’re in. But the designation does
require you to keep current and get experiences in different areas.”
CLAIRE SILVESTER, CHRE
VP Human Resources,
Claire Silvester relocated from
the UK to head HR at Vector
Aerospace. When she made the
move, she wanted to update her
designation, as well.
“I was a Fellow of the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development, and the CHRE is the equivalent
in Ontario for my level of experience and my designation,” she
said. “I got my CHRE designation because I felt a bit vulnerable
being an HR professional in a fairly senior job without a designation
that was applicable to the country that I was working in.
“I really wanted to make sure that as quickly as possible, I could
have something that to the outside world would show my experience,
my qualifications, that I really was accepted by a validated organization
in the country where I was living and working.”
Businesses really value the designation because it gives them a
benchmark, she says.
“This gives them a nice hard edge for employers to be able to assess,
‘Is this person really serious about the business of HR?’”
But more than that, the designation gives senior leaders access to
a lot of different organizations and a lot of different senior people, so
they can see what other organizations are doing, she says.
“The thing that I love the most about my HR role is when I’m presented
with problems that I need to find a solution for that involve
people,” said Silvester. “And when you’re talking about people, and
you’re talking about payroll costs and you’re talking about all of the
issues that happen when you lose people or when you gain people,
it’s really great to see that HR has its own designations and that
employers are asking for it – no, insisting on it.” n
Liz Bernier is a communications specialist with the Human
Resources Professionals Association.
20 ❚ APRIL 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL