SOMETIMES HR LEADERS NEED
TO BE PROVOCATIVE AND ROCK
THE BOAT; BUT DO HAVE A SENSE
OF HUMOUR ALONG THE WAY.
First job: I worked at a clothing store
in high school to earn some money for
Christmas gifts. I did not enjoy retail!
I don’t think I lasted more than three
Childhood ambition: To be an elementary
Best boss and why: Every boss has
taught me something valuable
Current source of inspiration: It’s
always my mother for her positive attitude
and outlook on life. I also have to
honour my father for the legacy he left
me on how to live your life to the end
with grace and dignity, regardless of
Best piece of advice ever received:
As long as your actions have the right
intent, ask for forgiveness and not permission.
It has served me well, for the
Favourite music: Jazz from artists
Gregory Porter and Jamie Cullum
Last book read: It’s called
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit
of Less by Greg McKeown. The key
message is identifying the “vital few”
from among the “trivial many” things
we have to do in life. We have to focus
on the essentials.
IN A NUTSHELL
What skills are important for success in HR?
AG: HR professionals must take the time to understand the business
and how it makes money, the competitive environment in
which you operate and the remaining focus is on employee engagement.
I also believe that as an HR leader, we must keep abreast of
the political and business environment in which we operate. An
example is reading The Globe and Mail on a regular basis. Scan the
environment – what do you have to pay attention to? Also, have
the courage to make the tough decisions. Sometimes HR leaders
need to be provocative and rock the boat; but do have a sense of
humour along the way.
What tips do you have for new grads or those in entry-level HR
jobs who want to move up the ladder?
AG: Move through different industries. Try to gain some generalist
HR experience to then figure out if you want to specialize
in any one area. Moving between industries provides HR professionals
with a very broad perspective of the business world. I have
done that; I was very deliberate about moving through different
industries and identifying what I needed to learn from each opportunity.
When I got to that proverbial “seat at the table,” my past
experience allowed me to bring forward recommendations and
make sound decisions.
The HR field has been evolving. What changes excite you the most?
AG: I would say the broad recognition that we need to have
more discussion around mental health. HR is playing a key role
in bringing those discussions forward in an organization. I have
identified that we need to implement training for our managers on
mental health, so there is a basic awareness that equips them to be
more effective leaders.
What’s the future of HR?
AG: The future will be about an innovative approach to the HR
function and how it guides the business. I link that back to my
comment about mental health. We constantly have to be innovative
about what is happening in the world at large that impacts
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ AUGUST 2017 ❚ 39