■■ First job: I grew up on a farm and was working from a very early age. My sister and I had a corn de-tasseling
business, and I had my bus license when I was 18. We were really active, which I think has
HRP: So that was your first exposure to an HR role. What
JL: I needed more. I went into the Ontario Public Service on a six-month
labour relations contract. However, I left 11 years later! I
was given more progressive and challenging work in both gener-alist
and specialist HR roles. From there, I went to the Ontario
Securities Commission (OSC) where I was the chief HR officer.
I reported directly to the chair and CEO. It was a fantastic oppor-tunity
to play a leadership role in building their first strategic plan,
and align that with a people strategy for the first time.
HRP: What did you love about your work at the OSC?
JL: I was a strategic leader. I had the ability to work so closely
with leaders who had incredible vision, helping them to deliver on
that vision using existing and new talent. I loved being part of the
incredible amount of dedication and commitment at the OSC. I
also had the opportunity to build a change team over a three-year
period and they made a significant impact every day, which is in-credibly
HRP: What were some of the challenges you experienced
JL: We had a lot to do in a really short period of time, and it was
tough at times to focus our efforts and prioritize our resources.
But that is always the key to success – making sure you know
what’s most important and that you’re directing all your resourc-es
HRP: Describe your current position at CIBC.
JL: I joined CIBC seven months ago to build a women in leader-ship
strategy, because CIBC wanted to continue to increase the
number of women in its leadership pipeline. I’ve been privileged
to work with a team that has really embraced an exciting new ap-proach
to gender diversity and inclusion, and we have shifted away
from women in leadership towards gender diversity and inclusion.
We’re thinking about how we can get the best and the most from
both women and men in the workplace. In seven months, we’ve
created a strategy and now we’re positioning ourselves for sustain-able
HRP: What’s key to leading HR during a difficult time for a cli-ent
JL: I really think it’s credibility. In a difficult time, you need to tru-ly
understand the business from an internal sense, but also where
it fits in the marketplace. If you do, you can provide innovative so-lutions
during tough times, but also keep an eye on the future so
you can be ready to move the organization forward when times
developed my work ethic.
■■ Childhood ambition: I think the concept that has always resonated with me is achieving independence.
Over the years, I’ve learned the value of independence, with the benefit of having strong support around
you. I knew I wanted to be independent and have an impact on the world, and contribute in a meaningful
■■ Best boss: I’ve had the luxury of working for several leaders who have had strong vision and a sense of the
future. At the same time, they still put energy and focus toward talent development. That combination is
■■ Current source of inspiration: People in my life who are authentic and bright and engaged in something
– people who want to contribute. They give me a lot of energy and they inspire me to want more from life.
■■ Best piece of advice: Somebody once said to me, “Perceived obstacles crumble against persistent desire.”
I don’t know where it came from, but the thing I’ve added to it over the years is that persistence for your
cause should never be pursued at the expense of others.
■■ Favourite music: I love all music, and a friend got me hooked on an app called Songza. You get the app
and then you can identify your activity or mood, and it will offer you different kinds of music.
■■ Last book you read: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. He’s written a lot of great books
and is incredibly gifted with the ability to notice patterns in the world – the book is about high frequency
trading and its cultures and systems.
■■ How do you spend time away from work? I love to read and spend time with family and friends. I have
two puppies I love to take on great adventures – a mini Maltese named Aurora and a mini Dachshund
named Bentley. They go in the convertible, on the subway… they’re a lot of fun!
IN A NUTSHELL
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 ❚ 43