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People People

5 min

5 min

The HR Blueprint: Data, Well-being, and Culture

The HR Blueprint: Data, Well-being, and Culture The HR Blueprint: Data, Well-being, and Culture

Meet Rebecca Pound, Manager of Employee Experience at AIMCo.

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Rebecca Pound stands out as a trailblazer in Human Resources, with an illustrious career marked by her unwavering commitment to fostering positive workplace cultures. Her journey, which began at Mount Royal University, has led her through roles at impressive organizations like ATB Financial, FortisAlberta and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). Rebecca’s unique approach to HR is highlighted by her emphasis on using data-driven decision-making, delivering action-focused training, and coaching with genuine empathy.

At ATB, Rebecca identified trends within employee sick leave data that was the catalyst in overhauling the organization’s mental health strategy. At FortisAlberta, she was the force behind the company’s first Diversity & Inclusion Committee, championing the origin and success of five employee resource groups. Her recent transition to the role of Manager, Employee Experience at AIMCo signifies her continued dedication to enhancing employee experiences and leveraging her skills in cultivating organizational belonging.

In our recent sit-down with Rebecca, she delved deep into her HR journey, sharing insights from her vast experience, the challenges she’s navigated, and her vision for the future of HR.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What drove you to a career in HR?

Like many of my colleagues, I fell into HR. I went into university majoring in business. But it was HR that truly resonated with me. I had one fantastic professor in particular – the impact she had on me is unforgettable. She believed I had a natural mind for HR and shared that she always looked forward to reviewing my work. Her encouragement and feedback were instrumental in building my passion for the field and ultimately changing my major to HR.

What surprised you the most when you transitioned from school to your first HR role?

The TSN turning point, if you will, of going from university to hands-on reality was realizing that HR is a much more data-driven field than I was anticipating. Unfortunately, the stuff we worked on in school focused on policy creation. We didn’t really focus on how to tie those initiatives back to core business functions.

As a young HR Coordinator out of university, watching my director present extremely data-informed proposals was eye-opening, and I’m so grateful I had that lesson early on in my career. The lightbulb clicked – what makes you a strong HR professional is having data insights and approaching your work strategically with a mix of analytics and intuition.  

You’ve worked on some impressive initiatives throughout your career. How do you balance those big projects with your day-to-day responsibilities?

Call me when you’ve figured it out! It’s something that you always have to manage. But one thing that helps me is Franklin Covey’s concept of big rocks vs. the gravel. Make sure you’re scheduling time to move those boulders forward versus sorting gravel and tinkering with those more minor tasks. If I notice I’m getting too caught up in that “gravel work,” I schedule time for the big rocks.

You’ve done some impressive work around workplace mental health. How do workplace culture and mental health impact each other?

There’s a difference between an organization that walks the talk and an organization that does mental health programing as a checkbox activity. Meaning, having an Employee Family Assistance provider, and posting an article during Mental Health Week are bare-minimum table stakes. Employees can see through recycled lunch and learns and pamphlets.

Organizations that are taking serious steps in this space, however, are doing the work to dismantle or redesign historical policies and practices that contradict creating positive mental health environments.

How can organizations support employees facing mental health challenges?

The biggest bang for the organization’s buck here is ensuring your employees clearly understand the resources they have access to, and there are no barriers preventing them from accessing. The second step is working with leaders to express the critical role they play in supporting the mental wellness of their team. Their job is, first and foremost, to reduce stigma.  

In my opinion, why leaders most commonly shy away from having mental health conversations at work is their perceived fear around needing to “solve” the problem for the individual. Managers are not expected to have the capacity or skills to counsel employees – that’s not their job! What organizations need to do is upskill their people leaders in how to notice signs of declining mental health, how to confidently approach that individual, and guide them to the mental health resources available.

TL;DR answer: Organizations who are doing workplace mental health well have an elevated level of leadership maturity, and HR policies and practices that are reflective of a humanized approach.  

What has your experience been with employee recognition?

Through my research and previous partnership with Kudos, I’ve learned that what people really want at work is to be seen and noticed for positive output and outcomes. Beyond a fair salary, recognition is one of the most critical factors for an employee. A platform like Kudos is vital to any organization because it provides an avenue to share gratitude across geographies – and gratitude is a powerful stepping stone in cultivating organizational belonging.

As an HR leader, what is the biggest challenge you face in the next 12-18 months?

One thing keeping me up at night is the average person’s capacity to absorb and apply new information today, given their job demands and external distractions. In my role, I’m creating programs and running initiatives to educate, inform and empower the people in my organization when it comes to mental health, wellness, employee experience, and more; I want to ensure my work is always seen as enrichment (because it is) and not just another to-do.

On the flip side, what are you most excited about?

One thing I’m exploring is a new concept around organizations evolving from enforcing policies to following principles. I.e., if your organization is mature and ready for it, have north-star principles around how you do business vs. static rules. This allows some grey area and especially rehumanizes the HR approach. One-size-fits-all human resources policies don’t work when you’re striving to build inclusive workplaces.

Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your insights and experiences with us!

Know an outstanding HR Leader you think we should feature?

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People People

5 min

5 min

Embracing Change and Inspiring Growth

Embracing Change and Inspiring GrowthEmbracing Change and Inspiring Growth

Meet Denise Beaupré, Entrepreneur, Author, Personal Development Coach, and Creative Leadership Mentor.

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Denise Beaupré, a best-selling author and accomplished entrepreneur, has navigated the ever-changing landscape of business and leadership by staying true to her values, and building relationships.  

From her early days in real estate, where she achieved recognition as one of the Top 100 Realtors in North America, to owning and operating a thriving car hauling business, Denise's journey has been marked by both triumphs and challenges.

Her accomplishments have garnered attention from esteemed publications like MacLean's Magazine and The Globe and Mail, highlighting her car hauling business as one of Canada's fastest-growing companies, reaching a 5-year revenue growth of 283% between 2015-2020.

With a passion for personal development and a commitment to fostering creativity and innovation within her teams, Denise has discovered the power of effective leadership and the importance of investing in people. Her most recent endeavor? A coaching and leadership consulting practice to share her wisdom and philosophy with leaders in business.

In this insightful interview, we delve into Denise's unique perspective on HR, leadership, and the evolving nature of work in today's rapidly changing world.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Tell me about your career. How did you get started, and when did you feel like you hit your stride?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My career began in real estate, where I was constantly exposed to motivational speakers, conventions, and training programs. Those learning opportunities helped me face my fears, step out of my comfort zone, and achieve remarkable success. I became one of the top 100 Realtors in North America, selling over $100 million worth of residential properties in a real estate market where the average house was $175,000. Interestingly, when I retired from real estate and entered the trucking industry, I realized I really missed the training and mentorship I had in real estate. This realization led me to seek out renowned speaker and mentor Bob Proctor – who I’m proud to have called a friend.

How did mentorship and personal development shape your leadership style?

Joining Bob Proctor's mentorship program elevated my leadership skills and introduced me to a different perspective. Instead of focusing on competition, I learned the importance of collaboration and creativity—the abundance mindset. I immediately implemented these principles in my trucking organization, exposing my staff to personal development and encouraging them to think creatively. The results were astounding, with our team securing multimillion-dollar contracts and experiencing tremendous growth. It became evident that understanding and valuing each team member's story, beliefs, and aspirations creates a strong foundation for effective leadership. To me, the key is leading by example – leaders should never stop learning, taking chances, and being creative.  

Tell me about your experience with employee recognition.

The issue I faced in my trucking business was that I had two types of workers, field workers and office workers. The workers didn’t understand each other’s responsibilities, there was a lack of respect, and I realized this was partly due to a lack of a shared communication channel. Kudos helped connect everyone.  

I had employees who were going above and beyond, and they deserved to be recognized.  

To me, one of the most prevalent causes of unhappiness at work is when employees put in that extra effort and aren’t recognized for it. That can turn into resentment – the fact that nobody sees what they’re doing.  

Kudos was also a channel for recognition. It’s not always about the money. Sometimes it’s just a matter of recognizing, acknowledging, and thanking employees publicly in front of their peers.  

And what impact did this culture of recognition have?

What we saw was incredible respect, something I had never witnessed before. Drivers were thanking office workers, being incredibly polite on the phone. Office workers were supporting drivers. I was even seeing drivers show more kindness toward each other. I got messages from customers (big manufacturers) who had noticed too. Things like, “I was at the plant this week and saw two of your drivers helping each other; I never see that.” It was terrific for the team to not only feel great receiving recognition, but also sending it. Recognizing everybody’s acts of kindness and achievements made them want to do more.

Fear is not a conducive mindset for success, and it is essential for leaders to help their teams overcome fear and operate from a place of strength.

How did the pandemic impact your business and leadership approach?

The pandemic brought financial difficulties, both personally and professionally. It disrupted the business landscape, especially trucking, and caused drastic changes and uncertainty. Unfortunately, due to the associated costs, I had to cut back on mentoring then. Regrettably, this decision hindered my progress and reminded me of the detrimental effects of fear. When I reflect on the choices I made during that time, I realize that continuing with mentorship might have yielded different outcomes. Fear is not a conducive mindset for success, and it is essential for leaders to help their teams overcome fear and operate from a place of strength.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in HR and people management today?

The current difficulties in finding suitable talent indicate a larger shift in the job market. Many traditional roles are becoming obsolete, replaced by emerging positions driven by automation and artificial intelligence. As organizations struggle to identify the right candidates, employees are unsure of where they fit in this evolving landscape. Rather than eliminating existing staff due to mismatched job titles, I believe in investing in their development, identifying their strengths, and providing training opportunities. By understanding and nurturing their talents, individuals can thrive and contribute to the organization in meaningful ways.  

The flip side is that while I believe we can all be leaders, a lot of people are put in leadership positions with no training, no guidance, and have no clue what it stands for, and therefore, teams are affected by it.  

And then you have another issue where you have some leaders that are taking advantage of their titles and abusing their power, and we're seeing a lot of that as well. What we need are authentic leaders, who understand people and want to come to work with intent and make a difference in the world.  

So, what advice would you give to a new manager?

First – get a mentor. Second – set goals. Not necessarily individual goals, but team, or departmental goals. I find many companies, corporations, smaller businesses, etc., may have a mission or a vision of where they want to go, but they're not necessarily getting participation from their staff. Shared goals are a great way to make that happen.

Next would be to get to know your staff. It's much easier to lead others when you understand that everybody has a story. Their stories are all important. Our stories dictate our belief systems, our values, what makes us happy, what makes us tick. If you can understand where everyone on your team is coming from, you can help them grow and achieve their goals.

Thank you, Denise Beaupré, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at    


People People

5 min

5 min

Revolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to Purpose

Revolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to PurposeRevolutionizing Recruitment: From Passion to Purpose

Meet Samantha Bateman, a great talent in talent.

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Samantha Bateman started Integria Consulting from the ground up. She wanted to re-imagine recruitment, her way. Now, she leads her business with a close to 20-year legacy of integrity, diversity, and transparency.

Bateman fell into recruitment, and it quickly became a passion.  So much so that she returned to McGill University to study HR and eventually taught a recruitment class there. In 2021, Bateman’s company established the McGill University Integria Consulting Bursary to support young changemakers.  

In our recent interview, we got to hear her perspective on HR, where it’s going and where it’s been, from the outside looking in.  

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Where did your adventure begin?

I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody in recruitment who said, “I went to school because I really wanted to be a recruiter.” We all just kind of fall into it.  

I think it’s an easy way to get into HR, from the talent acquisition side. It is a good way, yet I’ve kind of done the opposite.  

I had taken on the role of office coordinator fresh out of university for an economic forecasting firm. We kept on hiring receptionists that didn’t want to stay; they would come in as receptionists but want to move into customer support. We always worked with recruitment agencies, and they were constantly replacing them, so I asked, “Why don’t we just hire somebody who’s been a career receptionist?” Monster had just come onto the scene, and it was revolutionary at the time. I pushed our firm to let me recruit through their platform in order to save on agency fees.  Needless to say, it was a success.

And that’s how I moved into HR.  

After 5 years, I transitioned to working in a recruitment agency. Unfortunately, my values didn’t align with that organization’s. My husband asked me at one point, “What’ll it take to get started on your own?”  

That was 18 years ago. I’d like to say the rest is history, but it’s been a wild ride.  

What makes you a great talent in talent?

I think I’m just very curious about people and have enjoyed fitting them together.  

Talent has always been our client. If we don’t provide a great candidate experience, then we haven’t adequately represented our corporate clients, and our candidates don’t feel valued.  

That was one thing I’ve held onto [focusing on people.] A stark contrast with my experience at an agency that was very transactional. I couldn’t work in that environment, it never felt right to me. Especially after having worked at my previous firm which truly valued talent from entry to exit.

When you look back on your accomplishments, what stands out?

I would say there are a few that stand out, but definitely going out on my own when I did is one of them.  

My husband was constantly working late hours, and I was working and rushing to tend to my three-year-old daughter night after night. I had no other option but to go through the grind that so many working parents do. It was day after day of sprinting to pick her up on time from daycare.  At least twice she was the last one sitting on a bench by her locker waiting for me. I felt like I was failing motherhood, and I didn’t want that life for myself or my family anymore.  

Making the decision to go out on my own was terrifying. But then, 6 months into starting Integria Consulting, I reached out to somebody at Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG). The HR Director there had gotten promoted and wanted to backfill his role. I had to make this one happen.  

We met for breakfast and had an incredible first meeting. I felt like we really got to know each other, but when I left, I realized neither of us had said anything about recruitment. A couple of days later he reached out saying, “That was such a great conversation. It’s right in line with our values and our way of thinking. We’d love to work with you.” It took another 6 months for PBG to call me with a role to work on and they changed my life.  Working with that company for about 5 years, and their leaders – Sian, Carm and Mary-Beth, they elevated my entire practice.

Then we fell into a recession. Everybody was making cuts. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it, but I saw a solution in LinkedIn.

It was 2008 and most people didn’t know what LinkedIn was. Nobody was hiring a recruiter, but I was going into companies and charging them $3000 for a 3-hour session on how to recruit with LinkedIn. That paid my bills.  

When you see a wall, you have to get to the other side of it. So, I’m going to dig a hole under, go around, go through it — you just have to figure it out.  

If someone doesn’t make it past the first month, it’s a recruitment issue. If they leave within the first three months, it's an onboarding issue. And if they leave within the first 6 months, it’s a manager issue.

What makes a good candidate experience?

A job description is like a resume, it’s just your marketing piece.

When we launch a search, we dig deep with our clients.  We ask about short and long-term objectives in the role, growth opportunities, the good, the bad and the ugly of the position.  

This helps guide our candidates no matter the role. The candidate experience is critically important from the first reach out. You need to have honest and down-to-earth conversations with candidates to really do right by them.  

It’s not just about, ‘we’re nice to them and we care about them,’ it’s really about having their best interest at heart. If the role will side-track their career, we need to be able to say “I’d love to work with you, but this role may not be it.  Let’s work through it together.  It also means, sharing market data and salary guides – especially with traditionally marginalized community members who may not be aware that they are grossly underpaid.  For new arrivals especially, we get them in touch with people doing the same work, advocate for what they deserve, and support them in what they’re asking for.  

‘If you don’t have all the qualifications listed, please apply anyway.’  A statement like this in your job description really does have an impact.  

I think the statistics tell us that men will apply if they’re only 30% qualified for a position, but women will only apply when they have 90%.  

And I’m always very critical about this “lack of Canadian work experience,” idea that keeps job postings open for months on end. We have great talent that comes from other countries.  They don’t always need to have knowledge of local laws or designations.  

We’re getting a lot of candidates asking for representation too. They’re asking about the diversity at the top. We have those conversations, and we’ve stopped working with companies for discriminatory hiring practices.  

We need to talk about managerial courage. When a new hire is disrupting the culture, you need to have the courage to change or reverse that.

What are candidates asking you about corporate culture?

Culture is so important, but it can be difficult to put your finger on it.  

I see organizations where hiring managers are looking for different things, so each team has a different culture because of it. I see a lot of miscommunications about culture, but it’s hugely important when it comes to retention and engagement.  

We need to talk about managerial courage. When a new hire is disrupting the culture, you need to have the courage to change or reverse that. First, you need to be clear on what you tolerate and what you don’t, and then you need the courage to hold everyone to that same standard.  

Candidates are also talking about the culture they’re staying away from.  

We see a pattern where candidates worked in one place for ten years, 5 years at the next, and then 3 years following that. Oftentimes, they’re looking for that first culture fit again and just haven’t been able to find it. They know deep down what kind of culture they’re chasing after, but they sometimes can’t put it into words. Often, it’s that continuous learning and development piece that had them staying for as long as they did.

How do you measure success in recruitment?

There’s an expression that if someone doesn’t make it past the first month, it’s a recruitment issue. If they leave within the first three months, it's an onboarding issue. And if they leave within the first 6 months, it’s a manager issue. Retention of talent is very important to us, and we make sure to check in at these benchmarks.  

We also look at how diverse our slate of talent is. With every role we’re thinking, “Is this group too homogenous? Are we looking in the right places? Are we connected to the right people?” Somebody said to me once, and I agree, that any employer who doesn’t have diversity on their teams has consciously decided not to. I agree.

In the end, we can measure success with a slew of KPIs but I would tell you, that when talent takes our call a year after placement when we check in, and they’re getting promoted or just still enjoying their role, and organization, then we know we’re doing the right things.

What does the future of HR look like to you?

It’s a very challenging time right now, there are a lot of managers who were promoted well ahead of their curve without any support. Many haven’t been given any tools or training, so they’re failing.

The best companies have strong development plans for their team members, and we find it very challenging to pull anybody out of those organizations. Even if bigger opportunities fall on their lap, people will rather stay if you have a plan for them — talk about retention and engagement.  

What’s also of concern is all the conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, because I don’t see the needle moving on that, to be honest. The easy, lazy approach is to ask your recruitment firm to present a diverse slate of talent, right? Even then, it’s rare that we are asked to bring forward diverse talent. I’d like to think it’s because they know we’ll do that regardless, but it’s really because they haven’t woven that into their HR strategy. That’s extremely concerning to me.

And leaving my concerns out of the equation, if you don’t make a conscious effort toward diversity, your culture will suffer for it. Not to mention, great talent will avoid your organization because they see you don’t take it seriously.  

Ultimately looking ahead, it will be all about finding ways to engage employees from multiple generations and cultural backgrounds in a way that makes them feel valued and appreciated to drive retention and employee satisfaction.

Thank you, Samantha Bateman, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature?

Send us a note at  

People People

5 min

5 min

Navigating the New Age of HR

Navigating the New Age of HR Navigating the New Age of HR

Meet John Odike, Vice President of Human Resources at Wesley Enhanced Living.

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In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the role of Human Resources has evolved far beyond its traditional boundaries. As business strategies become more intricate and employee-centric, the function of HR has taken on an even more pivotal role in the journey to success.  

To delve into this dynamic landscape, we sat down with John Odike, the Vice President of Human Potential at Wesley Enhanced Living. Originally from Nigeria, John moved to the United States in the late nineties to complete his MBA. As part of his program, he did a rotation in HR at Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, where he fell in love with the profession.  

“What I loved most was the exposure it gave me in understanding how organizations work and how people play a critical role in business success. From technology to processes and operations, if you don’t have the right people, it’s not going to work,” John shared.

Today, he is shaping the future of HR with his unique blend of business acumen, social prowess, and a deep understanding of human potential.  

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

What makes you a good fit for a career in HR?

My background has always been in business, accounting, and analytics. Walking into my first HR role, I realized I could marry that with understanding how to use the workforce to impact the organization’s goals and objectives – the bottom line. Making those connections came naturally to me.  

As a person that truly enjoys social interactions, building networks within the organization at all levels was easy, allowing me to understand the business.  

My favorite thing is working with people and the interconnectivity between people and business. How, if you put people in the right positions, and give them the right tools, you can build an organization from nothing to something successful. It’s an amazing thing to see.  

What is a memorable moment in your career–something you are proud of?

One of the things I always look back on is getting recruited by the owner of an oil and gas start-up to help put together their infrastructure. There were just four of us. We went from 4 people to a global organization of 1500, with offices in the UK, Nigeria, and the US. It was a fulfilling accomplishment, and the organization is still doing well today.  

Communication is key when managing human resources amidst such rapid growth. From the start, we had a clear focus in terms of what we wanted to accomplish. Everyone was clear on the strategy and their role in implementing it. We used a stage gate process where at the end of each stage, we would stop, do some tweaking, and ensure our approach was sound. Making sure the key people involved were focused on the right tasks.

How do you earn and keep your seat at the executive table as an HR leader?

I’ve been lucky to work with organizations and boards made up of people who see the value of investing in people. Typically, the critical information that executives are looking for is whether or not we have the right people in critical roles, or whether our benefits and wages are competitive in our industry. They also want to know why turnover is happening–and what we can do to retain employees.  

In the last 15 years, HR has evolved from a primarily administrative function to something much more dynamic. HR today is about understanding your workforce, and how that workforce is integral to making your business successful.  

My team needs to be seen as a team of partners for leaders–a team that looks at every aspect of the business–things like our work environment, wages, benefits, succession planning, employee engagement, and how we recognize and reward our team.  

Unfortunately, HR departments sometimes focus on the wrong things, or things that don’t necessarily matter to employees. The key here is analytics. Analytics gives you the data you need to understand your employees' engagement and what you need to focus on and improve.  

How do you build a strong workplace culture?

Building a successful work culture is not easy. Culture is the shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms that exist in your organization. At Wesley, we’re values-driven, our key values are Grace, Honesty & Integrity, and one of the things our senior leaders try to figure out daily is how to get people simply to do the right thing in their roles and functions.  

In everything we do, including our partnership with Kudos, the focus is on ensuring our values are front and center for all employees. Recognizing and rewarding people for living those values using Kudos cements a lot of the things we’re trying to accomplish. We’re using that lever to get our culture to stick.

What advice would you have for someone building a career in HR?

First, education matters for someone trying to get into HR; it’s essential to know the principles of Human Resources.  

Also, getting affiliated with the right HR organizations, because networking is key. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, has been a great association to participate in. I’ve learned so much by networking within SHRM in terms of policies, compliance, ordinances, working with the department of labor, and different policies and laws.  

Next is embracing continuous learning. You can never learn enough, especially in this industry. Every day there’s something new–new initiatives, technology, and concepts. People are constantly coming up with ways to make our jobs easier, and having the right mentors and subject matter experts lined up is key.  

Finally, it’s imperative to understand the business that you work in. For every company I’ve worked with, the first thing I need to understand is how the business makes money – their bottom line. If you understand that, you can gear your HR practices to ensure you’re accomplishing the company’s goals and objectives.

Looking ahead, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

There are so many technological advancements, so I worry about whether we are positioned to compete in the next 5-10 years as an organization. I wonder if we’ve put the right tools in place to attract the workforce of the future. So, I’m focused on making sure that, from a technology perspective, we have the right tools in place. And taking that further, are technologies talking to each other?

What are the biggest opportunities? What are you most excited about?

Coincidently, also technology. Specifically, analytics. The amount of data and information that exists for you to make a case for HR tools and programs is incredible. Having data that tells us exactly what our employees need is so helpful. For example, our survey results continuously showed that our employees weren’t feeling recognized and appreciated, leading to our partnership with Kudos. It’s much easier to go to your Executive Team when you can show them trends. HR leaders no longer rely on personal intuition or opinion. There are a lot of “a-ha moments” when you have those conversations.

Thank you, John, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

People People

5 min

5 min

Building a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy Hall

Building a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy HallBuilding a Cohesive Culture: Insights from Dr. Troy Hall

Meet Dr. Troy Hall, award-winning culture strategist, radio show host, speaker, author, and talent retention expert.

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“Are you willing to be wrong to further what is right?”

This thought-provoking question captures the essence of Dr. Troy Hall’s lifelong pursuit of teachability. 

As a renowned culture strategist, radio show host, speaker, author, and talent retention expert, Dr. Troy has dedicated his career to embracing the power of learning.  

Inspired by his mother’s wisdom (the question posed above was hers), he emphasizes that teachability goes beyond the idea of right or wrong. He believes that by approaching conversations with a willingness to challenge our beliefs, we can collectively move towards what truly matters and create positive change in individuals, projects, and organizations. 

Currently residing in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. Troy cherishes his family, a fact that he shares openly and often. He understands the importance of balancing his personal and professional identities; this is something he believes contributes to positive workplace culture.

 In our recent interview, we delved into his inspiring journey and discovered his insightful perspectives on the ever-evolving world of work.


Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity


Tell me about your career path and your work in workplace culture.

I’ve spent four decades in leadership, specifically working in people development. I have a Ph.D. in global leadership and entrepreneurship. My dissertation was on group dynamics with an emphasis on cohesion, which led to my trademarked CohesionCulture™ program.  

My Cohesion Culture™ framework has three strategic elements: belonging, value and shared mutual commitment.

Belonging is about inclusion and feeling part of something special. Value is about feeling like your work is meaningful and knowing it matters. A shared mutual commitment means that teams will operate collaboratively. To me, collaboration is defined by two requirements. The first is that everybody involved in the project or team agrees they need each other. And the second is trust. People must trust that others will do the right thing and their job.

What can executive leaders do to support people-leaders in being more vulnerable and teachable?

They must lead by example. You can’t just tell people, hey, this is what I want you to do and then turn around and do the opposite.

One opportunity I see for leaders is to be more skilled in the art of self-discovery. Too often, leaders find it much easier to tell you what you did wrong than to uncover information about what happened and why. I created a cohesive communication process to help support this.

Instead of pointing out that somebody did something wrong, ask them about the circumstances and the situation. Questions like, Walk me through your thought process. What were your assumptions and expectations? Those are great alternatives to “Why did you do that?” and help everyone learn.

How can leaders change culture?

I like to recommend a processI refer to as C.A.P.E.S. 

The first aspect is cultural discovery, understanding what’s happening within the organization’s culture through observation and conversations. Next, assessments to understand levels of cohesion, including individual leadership assessments. After that, you build a plan that aligns with your strategy. With a plan in place, it’s time for the education component to ensure the organization understands the desired culture. Finally, sustainability. What will you do to sustain the culture once you’ve implemented it?  

In my work, I often don’t want to change an organization’s culture; I just want them to notch it up by adding a layer of cohesion. My research proved that performance occurs whenever cohesion is present within a team. And how you get to that performance, is employee engagement. 

We tend to think that we can get engaged employees by making them happy or satisfied, and that’s when we get trapped into giving them treats. Instead, we should be focusing on how we treat them. Leaders must understand and embody the concept that culture is built in how we treat people, not the treats we give them

What else can organizations do to foster engagement?

Affirmations play a crucial role in emphasizing the value of employees’ roles and identities. Programs like Kudos allow organizations to recognize and uplift individuals openly. 

However, a robust program requires leadership involvement. Leaders must lead by example, actively engaging with individuals and expressing genuine affirmations that go beyond surface-level praise. By highlighting an individual’s role, attributes, and alignment with core values, leaders not only affirm but also teach desired behaviors.  

This depth of affirmation fosters engagement and helps create a strong organizational culture. It’s important to align core values with behaviors to craft meaningful recognition. This holistic approach to affirmation is key for fostering engagement and building a thriving organization.

What is the most effective way to retain employees?

I’ve broken it down very simply through my work – it’s called F.A.I.R. play for cohesion. It’s important to understand that, at minimum, employees have to believe they’re getting fair compensation for their work –but that is not the only factor.  

Employees want flexibility—flexible work hours and locations. When I think about the Great Resignation, for example, I don’t think it was a resignation. People didn’t resign. It was the “Age of Recalibration.” People were recalibrating where they wanted to work, how they wanted to work, and who they wanted to work with.  

The next thing is autonomy. Employees want to know what authority they have and what level of initiative is required to do the job. And within that, they want the resources to help them succeed. 

After that is inclusion. Employees want to make sure they have a voice in the organization, that leaders will ask them what they think, and their supervisor shows interest in their success. The number one reason that people quit a company is still the lack of a healthy supervisor-employee relationship.They don’t quit the company; they quit the manager.   

The last is readiness, that is, growth and development opportunities. We know today that 71% of employees want growth, development, and advancement. If an organization does not offer these opportunities, employees will look elsewhere to find them.    

People stay for fair pay and F.A.I.R. play.


What is the biggest challenge facing HR Leaders today?

The biggest challenge is that supervisors are not trained to deal with employees who work remotely. For the most part, if the employee is not visible to the supervisor, the remote employee may not interact with others for days at a time. I am not suggesting that every employee gets a remote work option; however, leaders must be willing to consider building remote work policies. In fact, many organizations have mislabelled remote work as “work from home.” I think ‘Work from home’ demeans the work and the person doing it. My suggestion is to call it what it is:“Remote Work.”

Leaders can make that small language change very quickly to change the perspective and perception of remote work within their organization’s culture vocabulary.

They can also make sure that supervisors are trained to manage hybrid teams. For example, if you have some remote workers and some on-site and there is a need to meet, then my recommendation is that everyone is on camera – not just the remote workers and not a group huddled together on one camera in the conference room.

There’s no turning back. Work-life is not going back to the way it was pre-pandemic. To be successful, organizations must accept that reality, train leaders for it, and develop work structures to accommodate flexibility, autonomy, inclusion, and readiness.z

What do you think is the biggest opportunity when it comes to culture and the employee experience today?

It’s always the opportunity for human connection. The three strategic elements of cohesion: belonging, value, and commitment speak to creating great workspaces where people feel included, empowered to do a job, and work alongside others who may not look, think, or act like another. It’s the responsibility of every employee to build cultures of cohesion, not just the leaders’.

That’s why the attributes of an effective leader (teachable, compassion, grace, truthfulness, humility, purity of heart, and peace-making must be practiced by all. In the future of work, we will never abandon, nor should we abandon, the human element of people before the task. Leaders are charged with the responsibility to think of others first before themselves. They motivate, influence, and enable others to be successful.

We often think of our work environment – the way we’ve experienced it over and over again – as sacred.That’s the concept around the “status quo.” So, do you challenge the status quo, which says that an organization can only have innovation, collaboration, and a great culture when people are under the same roof? Can we break the paradigm? Can we create a paradigm shift?

We need to figure out how we can make that human element a little more interactive if we don’t happen to all be sitting under the same roof, because no matter what, culture is for everyone, regardless of whether you’re in the same place or not.  


Thank you, Dr. Troy, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!


Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

People People

5 min

5 min

Leveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in Tech

Leveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in TechLeveraging Your Strengths and Embracing Your Style to Build an HR Career in Tech

Meet Jessie Lambert, Human Resources Director at Mistplay

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HR leaders all have unique styles and approaches to the profession.

For Jessie Lambert, HR Director at Mistplay (a loyalty program for mobile gamers,) the key in her career has been to understand her unique style and use it to her advantage. She encourages all HR leaders to do the same.  

“You aren't going to be the best HR professional in every situation, in every company, in every phase of the company, in every field,” she explains.  

Jessie’s strengths lie in her intuition, relationship-building skills, and ability to move fast – a perfect fit for growing tech companies, where she has spent the last eight years of her career.

“As an HR leader, when you lean into your strengths, you’ll add more value to your career, your company, and the people you’re supporting,” she says.

We sat down with Jessie to learn more about her career and what’s on her mind in today’s fast-changing world of work.

What have been some highlights in your HR career thus far?

I went to school in France at the Burgundy School of Business, which culminated in every student having to choose a career field. I chose HR back then, without knowing much about the field, but I thought, this is it.  

From there, an essential factor in my career has been respecting my personal standards and expectations. I've had to leave roles because I wasn't aligned with how leaders wanted me to do things.

I’m impatient, decisive, and not risk averse.

The most defining moment for me was when I moved into tech. I immediately knew that these were the kind of companies I wanted to work with. Where I could best use my strengths.

What are some critical skills HR leaders need, and how do you approach professional development?

With HR, things change fast. We are constantly developing new programs and finding new ways to build culture. Staying up to date is key.

I prefer to learn independently. I like to move quickly when I learn and often don't have the patience to sit in training sessions. I read a lot (all of Malcolm Gladwell's books) and follow the Harvard Business Review. And I listen to a lot of podcasts. That just suits me best.

How would you define workplace culture?  

Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.  

The tricky thing with culture is that it exists regardless of whether you have an HR department [or not]. Even if you aren’t doing anything intentionally to build it – you put people together, and you have a culture. The question for HR leaders is, do you want to be active in shaping the organizational culture, or passive and just witness what's unfolding?

What’s key is to make sure there’s a connection between your company’s mission and vision, and what you're observing in your people.

For so long, we have been vague about what culture is, what we can do to drive it, and how we can measure results. That’s often why leaders hesitate to invest in culture, because the impact is hard to quantify.  

For example, if someone says a culture is toxic, what does that mean? What can you do? Can you know if you've managed to change it?

Historically, HR wasn't data-driven enough to answer those questions from leaders. Now things are different, especially in tech companies. Leaders are more willing to give HR ownership of culture and provide budget for programs that provide those data points and insights.

Culture is how we behave toward each other. From an HR perspective, it's the behaviour you try to enforce, the behaviour you tolerate, and the behaviour you don’t.

How do you work with senior leaders to drive success?

I feel lucky to work in tech. It really is the best field for HR. Leaders see the value of culture-focused initiatives. They can’t afford to have top talent leave due to a bad work environment.

Today HR tends to come in early when tech companies are built. Leaders want to work with HR. They trust you. They want your input. If you’re good at your job, tech welcomes you with open arms – and the sky’s the limit. It's different when you're in a big organization where change takes time and is difficult to reverse. In tech, you have more freedom to try things – worst-case scenario, you pivot if the results aren't what you expected.

I once entered a company as employee number 22, which was very early for HR. In tech, they want your input as soon as possible.

How has the shift to remote or hybrid work affected your role?

Being in tech, shifting from in-office to remote was easy from an operational perspective. Everyone had laptops, and everything was accessible through the cloud.  

An unexpected challenge, however, has been people overworking. In the early days of remote work, I had to train my team on the importance of taking breaks and eating. And making sure leaders were modelling healthy behaviours and working hours.

I never had an engagement or employee dedication issue; my problem was burnout. My people were burning out, and the challenge with a hybrid or remote setup is that you don't always see your people.  

Another challenge as an HR leader in a remote environment is getting to know everyone. There's nothing worse than having a difficult conversation with an employee and it being the first time you're speaking with them.  

You have to be intentional about your interactions, whereas before, in an office, you didn't have to think about that.

Having recently started a new role, it was one of my first goals and questions. When can I speak to the employees? What is the process for that?

What do those conversations look like between you and employees? Do you have advice for HR leaders undertaking a similar initiative?

I approach the conversations intuitively. If you’re newer to HR, I’d recommend an agenda and a checklist to ensure you’re being intentional about the conversation. I usually start by asking how they're doing, and from there, I get a sense of whether we need to discuss work, if they need to vent, or maybe it's just a friendly chat to connect about something personal.

Ultimately the objective is to create connection.  

It's also an opportunity to reiterate the business’ strategic direction. It’s not always easy for employees to ask a question in an all-hands meeting so I make space for that too.  

It can be difficult for employees to take the step to reach out for help, but if they have a meeting booked with HR already, they have dedicated time to raise any questions.

What helps is that the more conversations you have, the more you know, giving you more insight for everyone.

What challenges are you facing in HR these days?

For me, it's scalability and speed. When you work in a growing startup, you have to ensure whatever you do is scalable but also execute quickly. That balance of moving fast while always thinking about the future can be a challenge.

Ultimately, if you spend too long working on something, it might no longer be relevant to the business by the time you're ready to launch it. Basically, you have to be fast, but not too fast.

And on the flip side, what are you most excited about?

I'm most excited about advances in diversity & inclusion innovations. There are so many new resources now on how to support our people. I’m always looking for further insight and tools to help me understand if we're doing a good job in this space (for example, analytics), identifying issues, and finding ways to challenge my views. And always trying to understand how I maintain equity through rapid growth, for example. It's all super interesting!

Thank you, Jessie, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

People People

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5 min

Building a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human Touch

Building a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human TouchBuilding a Talent Acquisition Career Through Taking Chances, Sales Savvy, and the Human Touch

Meet People Person Niki Murphy, Canadian Talent Acquisition and Talent Advancement Lead at ABB

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Starting a career in human resources can come with surprises and unexpected opportunities.

For Niki Murphy, a Talent Management leader at ABB, a technology leader in electrification and automation, it was a chance visit to an employment agency in Ireland that set her on a path toward a successful and rewarding career in human resources management. While looking for a position in accounts payable, she was offered a recruitment role that opened up a world of possibilities.  

An early surprise for Niki? The financial opportunities and career possibilities in recruitment. But for her, the adventure of finding the perfect candidate and negotiating contracts was only part of the appeal. It was the realization that she was impacting people’s lives and livelihoods that was truly motivating.

We sat down with Niki to learn more about her career and what’s on her mind in today’s fast-changing world of work.

What makes a good talent management professional?

First and foremost, you need to be extremely people-oriented. You need to be comfortable having conversations about anything with candidates and clients left, right and center. I think authenticity is also really important.  

You do need to be a good salesperson too. The reality is that talent acquisition is, in many ways, a sales role. You need to listen to your clients to understand what they need. All day you’re selling the company to candidates – you need to know the values, the culture, the team, and the people.  

At the same time, there’s a huge element of creativity and branding involved, so it’s a position that requires a lot of adaptability and different skill sets.  

But, at the root of it is a people function; you need that motivation to work with people and help them succeed.  

How are you approaching the ‘new’ world of work post pandemic?

After polling staff, our company has taken a hybrid approach. Some wanted remote, some wanted hybrid, and a few wanted full-time in-office. So, we rented out some of the floors at our beautiful Montreal campus and implemented a desk hoteling approach with what we held onto.  

Office hoteling, otherwise known as desk hoteling or simply ‘hoteling’, is a flexible way of reserving a desk or room in your workplace for a set period of time. As the name suggests, hoteling operates in the same way as an actual hotel. You make a reservation, you check-in, you complete your stay, you check-out. (Envoy)

But that means the number of people that can come into the office is limited. So, we have different challenges now. At first, it was, “how do we fill the space?” And “is it worth us keeping this space because it costs a lot of money for the organization?“ Now, it’s “how do we cater to the crowds of people that want to come back in?” I don’t think that anybody has found the perfect recipe for it. Studies I’ve read show that the productivity of people working from home spikes, but the engagement drops, and then the flip side is, if people come into the office, the engagement is through the roof, but their productivity drops.  

So that’s why I think the hybrid model is probably best and is here to stay. We need human interaction and time to build relationships with people.

What are you most proud of in your career?

There are a few things that I’ve done over the years that have had a big impact.  

The first that comes to mind is spearheading an internal mobility program – that, for me, was probably one of my most significant career achievement.  

Internal mobility is the movement of employees (vertically and laterally) to new career and development opportunities within the same organization. (AIHR)

My company was focused on retaining talent; they understood the time and effort required to attract talent, given the scarcity in the market, and realized that once people were through the door, they had to keep them. It’s simply the most cost-efficient strategy. You have people at the peak of their efficiency in terms of company knowledge – it costs a lot to start over.  

My colleague and I led the charge, despite this being the first time I had taken on an initiative like this. We set out to change the culture and mentality of our company when it came to internal mobility. The board approved our plan, and within a year, we generated so much interest and adoption that the program took us from a 19% internal mobility rate to 31%, which is considered best in class.  

This is something that I continue to push on my teams today – the importance of considering your internal talent first.

Can you tell me about your work building an internal D&I Council?

I co-lead the Diversity and Inclusion Council at ABB, which is something that’s near and dear to my heart. It always has been, for that matter. We are working to have an impact by creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

Along with another leader, we put the council in place with four distinct priorities:

  1. Talent Strategy

We always want to hire the best person possible for any role, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability etc., and that’s a promise that I’ve always made to the organization. However, we want to create more opportunities for diverse people to be seen and heard in the interview process. I’ve asked my team to, at a minimum, strive to have an underrepresented group meet the hiring manager – that’s a commitment we’ve made.

I walk the talk on my own team too. Candidates need to see themselves in the people interviewing them, which means diversity on our talent acquisition team, the gatekeepers of our hiring, is critical.

  1. Impact on External Communities

This means working with external groups to support D&I at a grassroots level. One way we do this is by working with programs for girls in STEM, starting as young as the High School level.

  1. Programming

We’re committed to a minimum of four events annually focused on topics related to D&I. Last year, a big focus for us was unconscious bias; this year, the focus is on the LGBTQ2S+ community. We want to take a stand and demonstrate that we are an inclusive organization.

  1. Marketing & Communications

This pillar is about internal visibility and sharing the stories of our colleagues to build empathy and understanding. It's about creating awareness.

That's what we're focusing on. It's grassroots and simple; hopefully, in the years to come, it will progress into something even bigger and better.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing today?

One challenge is the speed at which things are changing – it can be extremely overwhelming. I think people can get intimidated by the speed at which business strategies change. The world of HR is being flipped on its head.

Another big shift in HR is the prevalence of mental health conversations. Mental health concerns have spiked since the pandemic, and people are silent about it. The challenge is you don’t always see people suffering if they work remotely. So, it needs to be very clear, simple, and easy for them to access resources to help them. It needs to be a dialogue that’s easy and safe for people. HR leaders need to train managers on how to have those conversations. I think we’ll see a lot of HR positions created because of this in the future.

Another one is talent. Talent is scarce right now. For example, Canada has over 1 million open positions, and we don’t have enough people to fill the roles. Along with that comes talent retention. People are being poached left and right because of how accessible they are through technology like LinkedIn. They don’t even need to look for a job. The jobs come to them. We need to create an engaging workplace, and that’s in the culture. It’s a change that needs to happen – it’s a necessity.

What are you most excited about?

Companies need to rethink their talent strategy. And there’s not just one answer to that. What people need to do is stop the knee-jerk reaction to resignations. Instead of immediately replacing the person leaving, we need to take a second and figure out, “Is there a way to optimize how we’re doing things? Is there technology that exists that would allow us to rethink and redesign the function that they had? Can it be absorbed elsewhere without overworking the current team? It’s about redesigning.  

And that’s change management.

You need to coach your managers on how to do that and allow everyone the space to be creative and to provide their ideas.

Other opportunities include international recruitment and tapping into underserved labour markets, such as people who are neurodistinct, have physical impairments or disabilities, veterans etc.

I’m also cautiously excited about AI, and if and how it will revolutionize our world. I’m curious about how we can use tools like ChatGPT. I think the concept of AI, like being able to do psychometric assessments through video, is fascinating; I’m curious to see where we’ll be in 20 years. What this is all going to look like. I don’t think the human elements are ever going to leave. But I’m pretty excited to see where it’s going.

Thank you, Niki, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

People People

5 min

5 min

The Power of Leading by Example in HR

The Power of Leading by Example in HRThe Power of Leading by Example in HR

Meet People Person Charlotte Collett, VP of Human Resources at NorthRiver Midstream

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Charlotte Collett once received one of the best compliments of her career when a CEO expressed that he “didn't know what to do with her”. He went on to say that she was the first HR professional he had experienced whose leading value was her strategic business expertise and her HR skillset was an added bonus.

Growing up in Central Alberta and graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree in her family. "My dad was a successful small business owner," she shares. " I grew up looking at things through a business mindset." This early business grounding continues to serve Charlotte throughout her HR career.  

"I believe this is critical to how HR practitioners can truly support the business as a strategic partner," she explains. "It's what grants you license, in my view, to be at the table. If you don't understand your client’s core business needs, I'm not sure how you can influence it in the right way from an HR standpoint."

And while Charlotte believes that business acumen is what can help HR leaders sell big ideas internally with more success and credibility, she thinks sometimes it's better to think small.

"As HR practitioners, we sometimes can be quite ambitious in what we want to see for the organization," says Charlotte. "What I have come to value more is experimenting, trying something, and appreciating that although it might not be utopia, some progress is still progress. Often the real gift is in the small incremental wins, especially when it comes to impacting culture. People can downplay the accomplishment because they think progress is not as fast as it should be. When you're dealing with humans (versus numbers, or tools), things are more complex and nuanced."

Let's dive into our interview!


How did you build such a successful career in HR?

I architected my career with a blend of specialized expertise (compensation, talent development) and client facing business partner work. Having experiences both in a generalist and specialist domain has really informed my leadership brand as I easily understand what it's like to practice the profession on both sides.

Beyond that, I always strive for a higher level of performance and lead by example. HR practitioners are role models for the cultural behaviours that you're trying to instil and develop in the organization. We need to “eat our own dog food”, as I like to say. I won't ask someone in the business to do something I wouldn't do.  

I am constantly curious and learning each day about human behaviour and what drives people to operate the way they do. The reality is that in much of what HR does, we aren't always working with people at their best. HR practitioners are often called upon to be the voice of reason in the face of what can be very emotive situations. Be an observer of others and stay open to why people respond the way they do, considering what is driving their perspective. Really trying to stay in that space of curiosity around humans, what they do and why they do it.  

And lastly, mentorship. Mentors, in my view, are an invaluable resource. Having been a receiver of that gift, it's extremely important to me that I pay it forward with the people that are coming up in the profession.

How do you view workplace culture, and what role does HR play?

Influencing and impacting culture is one of the reasons why I have taken on the mandates that I have. People often think that putting a pool table in the staff room and giving people free pop is setting culture, and I don't necessarily agree. Those things are nice and have their purposes, but they are perks, not culture.

Culture is about aligning people's behaviour to what you want the organization to drive in terms of results and strategy. I believe leaders model the culture you want; that's my passion project – helping leaders be better leaders.

Tell us about your recent initiative of re-envisioning your organization's values.

I subscribe to the adage that culture is what people do when no one is looking.

Getting aligned about our collective values and communicating those clearly is key to increasing the chance that they do those right things. It was a great process to help align the leadership team around questions like, 'What do we want this organization to be able to do?' and 'How do we want people to behave?'  

The design process began by having the senior team get clear about their top five or six personal values. We wanted to acknowledge that employees and leaders don't come to work and park their personal values at the door. From there, we identified themes and commonalities and began building. For example, a consensus of people in the room identified family as a personal value. We explored how that concept might be applied to the workplace and landed on “We believe in looking out for one another”.

What you hope for in an organization is that the collective personal values of the majority of your employees align with what you aspire to as a culture – and that's called fit.  

And when there is an imbalance in that, or people are navigating the organization and bumping up against a personal value that might be outside the balance of what the company values, conflict can arise.  


What are the critical challenges to HR teams in the near future, and what's keeping you up at night?

We're coming out of a period in our world’s history that has had a material impact on work. It's impacted every demographic, with some older workers choosing to retire early taking valuable knowledge with them, and some early in career who have just spent three years working out of a basement on a Teams call who may now be struggling with how to navigate a return to office.

The nature of work and managing those varied impacts and expectations is going to continue to be a big challenge. I don't think it's going away.

I'm not a fan of working fully remote because I'm in the business of humans. I feel like there is a wonderful thing that happens when humans are sharing the same physical space and having organic impromptu conversations. These are situations you can't replicate through a phone line or a video screen.

Humans are social beings that need connectivity beyond a work-related topic – they need relationships. This is the glue that helps businesses be more efficient and strategic.

But I appreciate that people want balance. Living through the pandemic, we have proven that people can be productive at work and flexibly manage their lives. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

The issue of mental health in the workplace is connected to that. I appreciate that there is a public conversation happening on this most important topic right now. As humans, most of us at some point or another will have likely struggled with mental health in some way – historically we may have kept it hidden in the shadows.  

While we're seeing progress, managing mental health remains very challenging organizationally, especially for leaders who don't always know how to navigate those waters. That's when they turn to HR professionals for support, and it's not always easy.

What are you most excited about?

HR practitioners continuing to add value as businesspeople. HR practitioners have access to more data and metrics than ever before and understanding what's behind the numbers and contextualizing that is an essential and valuable skill for any organization.  

I appreciate that not every organization can invest in large scale HRIS systems or flashy technology, and that's fair. But exploring creative ways to get to meaningful data will ground you in what's possible and the alternatives that make sense for your organization. Data mining and constructing a practical narrative around data is an important skill for HR practitioners and something I'm excited about.  

Thank you, Charlotte, for sitting down with us and sharing your experience and knowledge!

Know an amazing HR Leader you think we should feature? Send us a note at

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5 min

Taking a Bold Approach to HR That Challenges Norms and Leans on Authenticity

Taking a Bold Approach to HR That Challenges Norms and Leans on AuthenticityTaking a Bold Approach to HR That Challenges Norms and Leans on Authenticity

Meet People Person Rebecca Lee, Director of People at Kudos

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People People is a series covering the best and brightest HR leaders of today and tomorrow.

When it comes to business, Kudos' Rebecca Lee is most passionate about how it gets done. Hint: It’s the people!

Choosing a career in HR

While Rebecca didn't always know she wanted to work in HR, it wasn't long after starting postsecondary education and internships that she realized it was a perfect fit. While studying Business at Concordia University of Edmonton, Rebecca was drawn to her management and leadership development courses.

"It's not just about being a people person," she (somewhat reluctantly) states. "To me, that’s only one part of the equation, which is probably the worst thing you can say as an HR leader. But for me, it's also about helping the business. I'm interested in solving business problems, and my worldview is that in order to solve them, you need to lean into the people side of things, because ultimately, business is done by people."

And that's just one way Rebecca breaks the mold of what you might imagine as an HR leader, or as she prefers, people leader.

HR is your friend. Most of the time.

When it comes to the stereotype of HR being the fun police, Rebecca believes that things have gotten better in the field. But there's still a long way to go.

She explains that in many ways, it's easier to be a neutral third party all the time and, yes, sometimes being the fun police.  

But she chooses the more complex path of adapting to each situation with authenticity.  

That means being approachable, always professional, and willing to hold space for whatever conversation needs to be had. "Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're really hard," she explains, "but if there's a need to discuss it, I'm happy to go there. And so that's why for me, it's more about the consistency in being genuine versus holding a hard line." For example, suppose someone asks for advice. In that case, she'll be open and honest and work from her personal playbook, but if the conversation relates to an internal policy or labour law, she'll put on her people leader hat and approach it meticulously and objectively.

But the reality of working with people stays the same.

People are complex, the real world can be messy, and HR leaders are here to work alongside the business & people to solve problems.

Who’s in charge of culture here?

Another hot take from Rebecca? Culture doesn’t live in the people function. “Obviously, people teams play a big role in shaping and supporting culture,” she clarifies, but to her, everyone plays a role in bringing it to life through their behaviours, interactions, and relationships.

"It's how we talk to each other, or, how we come together to do the work. Culture comes to life in interactions, whether that's at the 1-1 level or in a big group; it's actually quite decentralized."

If Rebecca had to pinpoint who she thinks are the primary stewards of culture, she thinks it’s managers and leaders.  

"They need to drive it," she explains. "They need to be vigilant about being aware of where the needle is when it comes to culture. And I think that they need to get ahead of it because it's such a powerful tool that can make or break your success in achieving business objectives."

However, people teams are the voice of culture when it comes to programs.

"Programming is where the rubber meets the road," Rebecca explains. "It doesn't matter how great your strategy is, if you can't translate that into action, it actually means nothing." Mic drop.

And to Rebecca, it's the people team’s role to call out cultural implications when rolling out new initiatives. Questions like, is this consistent with our culture? Are we pivoting our culture by doing this? People teams need to push leaders to answer those questions as new ideas are designed and developed, and guide them through programs that support the company's people.

What does the future of HR look like?

In the coming years, HR departments will be pushed to prove they are executing on promises related to DEIB, work-life balance, flexible work environments, and more. It’s also the right thing to do. "The new generation of workers will hold organizations accountable to their promises. They want to know what programs you have in place to execute the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG initiatives you have built strategies around and identified as organizational priorities."

For Rebecca, this is now non-negotiable, and many organizations need to catch up in this respect. It's time to walk the talk.

The other big thing on Rebecca's radar? People analytics.

This is an arena where many people teams are playing catch up compared to other departments like sales, marketing, and operations. For example, one historically popular metric in the people space is time to fill open roles. "Shouldn't we be more concerned about the stay rate and quality of some of those hires?" Rebecca challenges. "We need to get more creative in terms of the outcomes we're trying to measure, and reverse engineer from there to figure out what data points we need."

Demonstrating the ROI of people programs will be critical to bringing and keeping these leaders at the executive table. "There's a story to be told here, and we have the data to tell it."

Final thoughts and advice for HR leaders

The people function will see some big changes over the next few years. People pros are levelling up, skilling up, and realizing that they need focus on integration, whether it be around tools & technology available to support the people space or tucking into enabling efficient/effective business operations".

Rebecca's hope? HR leaders call out the cracks they see, and are courageous enough to lean in and create some change.

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