When did you decide you wanted a career in human resources?
Anthea Gomez: I worked for a textile manufacturer in South
Africa and I was hired to work in payroll as part of the HR
function. My exposure to HR through payroll and another opportunity
in training at the same organization was my first exposure
to the profession. After that, I decided I wanted to seriously study
the field and continue my career.
What was your first HR job?
AG: At the job mentioned above, I was hired into the payroll function
and I also got to conduct interviews, which provided my first
experience with recruiting. Then the organization decided to establish
a training function and I was hired to support the training
manager. We developed organization-specific training that included
skills-specific training as well as management training
Tell me about your current job. What are your main areas of
AG: Currently, I’m director of human resources and corporate
services. I was hired by Express Scripts Canada 13 years ago this
November to establish the HR function. The organization
was at a point where they determined
they needed an HR leader. The organization
and the HR function have grown over
that time to this particular juncture
where my role includes talent
acquisition, payroll, benefits,
employee relations, organizational
management development and
skill-specific training. On the corporate
services side, I have responsibility
for our privacy and compliance functions and
translation services as we publish in both official
languages, as well as corporate administration.
What do you love about your job?
AG: I love the continuous evolution of the business. From being
hired to establish the HR function, to the launching of the new
Active Pharmacy business, to a different way the organization is
beginning to manage projects, it all has an impact on how we manage
HR. At the end of the day, it’s variety as a result of the constant
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
AG: The biggest challenge would be managing organizational
change. Specifically, I’m referring to the impact on employee engagement.
An example is managing prescription drug plan spend.
Being in the business we are, we have an insider’s view of what
drugs cost and how those costs impact group health insurance
plans. As much as we provide guidance to our clients on how to
better structure their plans, we must take the same internal view.
Recently we made changes to our Group Health plan, resulting in
increased out-of-pocket expenses and reduced coverage in some
benefit areas. It’s the first time we changed the plan in six years.
Everyone is averse to change and especially if it’s impacting your
pocket. It’s those kinds of challenges that I experience as a leader.
The key to managing the change is how we communicate those
changes for employees to clearly understand the rationale behind
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult time for a client
AG: Remaining true to the values of the organization and your
personal values is important. Through all the changes at Express
Scripts Canada, I always say you cannot be a candle in the wind.
You have to be firm in your view; you have to consider all facets of
the change and know that once the decision has been made, you
move forward with it. As an HR leader, you have to be rock-steady
during those difficult times. Even your leaders need you as that
calming influence through the madness that happens at times. Of
course, you always must keep the end goal in mind, but you should
not be afraid to course-correct along the way.
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38 ❚ AUGUST 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL