What do a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, an MBA
in management of innovation and new technology,
12 years of experience in project-based HR for
national and global companies and launching a consulting
business have in common?
For Leah Reilly, founder and principal consultant at Parkhill
Reilly Consulting, they have all been crucial parts of her successful
After finishing her MBA at McMaster University in 2002, she
started working as a project manager in systems and technology at
Bell Canada. Two years later, while running strategic planning sessions
as an in-house facilitator, she and a group of colleagues were
moved over to Bell’s People & Culture team in HR. Joining the
team that had the task of developing a people strategy, Reilly knew
she had discovered her niche.
“It was great because it took my interest in studying and understanding
culture and married with my project management
interests – the really ‘nerdy’ side of my personality where I love
to build projects and Gantt charts, figure out project plans and do
reporting,” she said.
Moving up the corporate ladder, including a global vicepresident
position at Guy Carpenter, a reinsurance provider in
70 countries, Reilly continued to strive and take on more significant
roles and projects. However, in 2015, nearly three years into
her job as senior vice-president, HR business partner and global
PMO leader at Guy Carpenter’s sister company, Marsh, she knew
that constant travel and long hours were taking a toll on her time
with her two children and her husband.
The best solution, she determined, was to launch her own consulting
company, allowing her more flexibility in her schedule and
a better pace for her personal life.
Just over a year in, Reilly spoke to HR Professional about what
it’s like to be a one-woman HR business and why her project management
skills are more important than ever.
In your current position, what are your
main areas of responsibility?
Leah Reilly: I’m finance, operations and everything in between.
I’ve been trying to follow the 80/20 rule and not spend too much
time overthinking things that are internal, like the website. I’m really
focused on business development and getting myself out there.
In terms of my billable work, typically what happens is that
I make a connection with someone, which has primarily come
through referrals or networking. We speak about their potential
needs – I do an analysis, really digging into what their current situation
is and what that could entail in terms of the work I would
do for them. I’ll put together a proposal that outlines what I heard,
what I propose and lay out a draft of what the work would look
Top photo: tsyhun/Shutterstock.com
Portrait: courtesy of Leah Reilly
HR CAREER PATHS:
Leah Reilly, CHRL
START-UP HR CONSULTANT
By Kristy Rydz
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 ❚ 41