What are the challenges you experience in your job?
BP: One challenge is the ability to demonstrate and clearly artic-ulate
the ROI of an initiative or approach we’re recommending. In
some cases, it’s also a challenge to build enough trust for the cli-ent
to take steps they perceive as a bit of a risk. And lastly, we can
deploy an initiative, but cannot totally control it – we put it in
place, but the client has to bring it to full fruition.
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult
time for a client organization?
BP: I think the key is to ensure that trust is built and to be able to
demonstrate how an HR initiative will assist the business. Will it
mitigate, will it enable or will it drive customer satisfaction? What
are the key attributes of your strategy that will help the organiza-tion
during a difficult time?
What are the necessary competencies for success in HR
and how do you think those have changed throughout
BP: Today, you must be more of a strategic thinker. You have to
understand the business and be an operating business partner to
create buy-in. The good news is that people understand HR much
more. But now that we have the attention of leadership, we have
to talk their talk: Metrics and financials, not just generalizations.
Today’s HR requires strong determination and doggedness, and
it requires a long-term vision and patience. Changes aren’t going
to happen overnight. Sometimes it’s taking two steps forward and
What tips do you have for new grads or those in entry-level
HR jobs who want to move up the ladder?
BP: I would suggest that they try to get experience in all aspects
of the industry – or at least understand operations in their par-ticular
business. Spend at least one business cycle in each aspect
of HR. You need a full cycle or two to really understand compen-sation,
for instance. And I’d say that within HR, you must have
in-depth knowledge in one or two areas of the function. That is
your trump card or anchor point. Finally, stay true to your val-ues
and be prepared to be customer-centric because employees are
The HR field has been evolving.
What changes excite you the most?
BP: Industry is starting to realize that human capital has a
dollar value to it. The talent shortage is real and that has under-scored
the value of employees. In Scandinavia, for example, you
are required to put a dollar value to your human capital. If you
have to put it on the balance sheet, it really emphasizes how
important it is. In turn, that has enabled the profession to be rec-ognized
as a profession.
What’s the future of HR?
BP: I do believe that if HR can demonstrate its strategic value to
business and be innovative, it will become a central point of busi-ness.
It will be as crucial as the CFO role, but it has to become
strategic, innovative and perhaps a bit of a louder advocate.
Advocacy with a good business value proposition behind it will
become important. n
hr career path
First job: At age 16, I worked as a busboy in a restaurant
at Toronto airport’s old Terminal 1.
Childhood ambition: There were two: I wanted
to be a train engineer and I also wanted to be a
Best boss and why: I’ve had a couple. One was at
Wardair; she was the individual who recognized that
while I was good at sales, I wasn’t happy there. She saw
that I had talent and asked if I’d ever thought of in-flight
service, which is then how I got into HR. I’ve had other
bosses who were great; they allowed me autonomy and
gave me the trust to move my agenda forward. And yet,
they were good coaches and always available.
Current source of inspiration: Honestly, people just
inspire me. Whether it’s fellow board members,
clients or their employees, friends, colleagues or new
acquaintances, they are all inspirational.
Best piece of advice ever received: Be who you are and
follow your passion.
Favourite music: Motown R&B and soft jazz.
Last book read: I just bought two: Jean Chrétien’s memoir
My Stories, My Times, and Becoming by Michelle Obama.
Photos courtesy of Bill Pallett
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ FEBRUARY 2019 ❚ 41