After 18 years with WestRock, he can safely say that no two
days are ever the same – and that’s one of the aspects he loves most
about his job.
HR Professional connected with Della Vecchia to discuss how he
got “hooked” on human resources, the challenges of working for a
rapidly expanding company and how communication and a cool
head are critical to successful HR management.
When did you decide you wanted a
career in human resources?
Amato Della Vecchia: In university, I took a labour relations
course and in one session they showed a documentary of Bob
White, founding president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.
He was negotiating a labour contract with GM. I found it fascinat-ing
in the documentary when they showed the whole psychological
aspect of getting a labour contract. I started taking additional HR
courses and then while I was going to school, I worked part-time
for ADP, the payroll company.
What was your first HR job?
ADV: After I graduated, ADP offered me a full-time job imple-menting
HR management systems. I was there for about seven
years in total; in 2000, I left and moved to St-Laurent Paperboard
to work in HR at the corporate office. So that was my first true
HR job. We handled organizational analysis, succession planning
and talent management. That’s how I got my toes in the water
Tell me about your current job. What are
your main areas of responsibility?
ADV: I manage the HR supervisors across WestRock’s Canadian
facilities and have been in this role since 2006. I’m responsible for
consulting to management, strategic staffing, safety, compensa-tion,
training and development, labour relations and everything
What do you love about your job?
ADV: I like working with people. I also like the instant gratifi-cation
when the job is done right. When you help someone in
HR, you see the problem immediately, resolve it for them and get
instant feedback. I also like that I’m always doing different things.
The day starts and I think it will be a certain type of day, and then
something unexpected happens and the day changes drastically.
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
ADV: We have internal and external challenges. Internally,
WestRock has grown by leaps and bounds through mergers and
acquisitions, so that is challenging. Externally, we are trying to
keep up with the different legislative changes happening across
Canada – there are changes in employment standards, safety,
human rights, payroll and the list goes on. If you’re not up to date,
the company can be liable with huge fines. We must make sure our
policies and practices are up to date, our managers are trained, etc.
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult
time for a client organization?
ADV: There are two things. First, be patient. I think patience in a
stressful situation is a must. You need to stay calm. If you’re calm,
you can help steer a ship through rough waters. If you start pan-icking,
the situation gets worse and people around you pick up on
that. As they say when you fly on a plane, put your mask on before
helping others! It’s the same concept here. Secondly, be thorough.
Make sure you have all the facts in front of you before making
“IF HR IS NOT
lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo
42 ❚ JUNE 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL