First job: As a pre-teen, I was hired to count pills in a pharmacy. I put them in little bottles. That was my first
job – it probably wasn’t even legal, now that I think about it! Later, as a teen, I tutored French and worked in
Childhood ambition: Once I got over wanting to be a flight attendant and travelling the world, I decided I want-ed
to be an interpreter for the United Nations. I speak four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
Best boss and why: I had two outstanding bosses in the federal public service. One was a deputy minister and
one was an assistant deputy minister. They figured out what made me tick. They treated me well and gave me
the freedom to run with my tasks. They never pulled on the reins.
Current source of inspiration: My children and their friends are an amazing generation. They are positive, in
tune with creating a better world, and they believe in social justice and volunteer their time.
Best piece of advice ever received: It came from the deputy minister I mentioned above. He said, “Always re-spond
to phone calls or inquiries the same day you receive them.” It’s about same-day service delivery and it
will set you apart from the rest. I strongly believe it and do my best to achieve that goal.
Favourite music: Rock, mostly the old stuff like The Eagles, Chicago, Styx and Supertramp, as well as the
Tragically Hip and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Last book read: The last decent book was The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. My son is a history teacher and a
strong advocate of Indigenous rights, and he thought I’d find it an interesting read.
phones, radio stations and cell towers. It was very scientific, very
technical. Although I was in charge of leading strategic business
and regulatory planning, everything even remotely people-ori-ented
migrated my way, whether it was 360-degree feedback or a
public service employee survey. After doing that for several years,
I thought I’d like to go into HR. If I went into corporate services,
I could broaden my people-oriented management strategies. So, I
decided to signal to my assistant deputy minister and deputy min-ister
that I wanted to move into HR.
What was your first HR job?
AB: The deputy minister agreed to the move and in January 2000,
I was appointed as the director of employee development and re-sourcing
at Industry Canada’s Human Resources branch. They
decided they would use my business knowledge and transfer it
into the HR environment. It was a relatively new phenomenon to
integrate business and HR planning.
What are your main areas of responsibility in your current job?
AB: At APEX, I provided confidential advice to any execu-tive
in the federal public service. My background in HR allows
me to deliver a different perspective to executives than they can
receive from their own departments. I talk to them about terms
and conditions of employment, difficulties with a boss or employ-ees,
harassment or bullying or performance management issues.
Through my work, I realized there is a real demand for executive
coaching. I can’t coach in this job, as it would be too demanding
on my time; however, I felt there was such a need for executive
coaching in the public service that I’ve decided to launch my own
business in the fall.
What do you love about your job?
AB: I love helping people. I love helping them to bring clarity
to whatever their personal situations are and to overcome some
tough times. It’s rewarding work. There are a lot of quagmires in
the public service and helping people manoeuvre around them is
something I aspire to do. Contrary to what you hear in the media,
it’s not easy being an executive in the public service! By going out
on my own, I’ll be able to have longer term coaching relationships
with my clients.
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
AB: It’s difficult to avoid taking your work home, especially if
you’re a people person and you want to help – you want to fix a
IN A NUTSHELL
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42 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL