a break to work for a year. I was working in a retail store and joined
GoodLife as a member. They were looking for a membership sales
consultant and I got the job. At the time, I was focused on making
money short-term and then going back to be a teacher. But then I
fell in love with GoodLife and its purpose and vision.
What was your first HR job?
AF: Manager of learning and development, a role I took on about
12 years ago. That’s where I met GoodLife’s David McLean, who
completely opened up the world of HR to me. I always thought it
was black and white, about rules and policies. From him I under-stood
it’s about organizational effectiveness; it’s about being that
leader who helps to influence the whole organization.
Tell me about your current job. What are your main areas of
AF: My role is to implement strategies and tactics that will help
maintain and expand upon GoodLife’s award-winning culture and
to ensure our associates are living our core values of caring, trust,
integrity, passion, peak attitude, happiness and personal fitness.
Creating that culture and environment and focusing on staff en-gagement,
retention and development are priorities. I’m focused
on helping our associates to be the best they can be so they can
help our members.
What do you love about your job?
AF: I love GoodLife’s purpose: to provide everyone in Canada with
the opportunity to live a healthy, fit, good life. To have that long life
because you’re looking after yourself – that to me is amazing. I also
love the diversity of our associates; they come from all walks of life
and age ranges. And, personally, I also had my own fitness struggle.
When I was 18 years old, I was diagnosed with severe exercise-induced
asthma. I couldn’t do any exercise programs; I ended up
being pretty chubby into my mid-20s, when I realized that if I exer-cised
slowly and then built it up, my asthma was better. Now I can
exercise without medication. I see that all the time; people going off
blood pressure meds, or type 2 diabetes meds – miracles are hap-pening
because people are looking after themselves.
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
AF: We’ve had rapid growth; trying to maintain our culture has
been a challenge. We do have a three-hour course for new em-ployees
called Super Success that Patch, our VPs and directors are
giving, along with online and print communications and e-learning
for all locations. The other challenge is that Patch has such a high
entrepreneurial spirit; changes can happen fast, and we have to be
quick to adapt while keeping our associates informed and engaged
across the country.
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult time for a client
AF: I think one of the big things is trust. You must have transpar-ency
and make caring decisions by putting people first. If people
trust you, they are more willing to forgive if they truly feel you
have the right intentions. It’s also important to bring the right peo-ple
together into cross-functional teams to meet challenges.
IN A NUTSHELL
First job: I was a short order cook at The Big Apple
in Cobourg, Ont. I flipped burgers for people on tour
buses who were on their way to the casino.
Childhood ambition: My parents always talked
about the Baby Boomers retiring when I came into
the workforce. When I was 7, I wanted to own a big
semi-truck with the back set up as a salon. I would
drive to seniors’ homes and bring them into the truck
and do their hair, make them feel good.
Best boss and why: That’s my boss now, the COO
and president of GoodLife, Jane Riddell. She is one
of those quiet leaders; she can create culture. You
want to work hard for her to make her proud. She
makes you feel she is deeply interested in what is
going on with you. She taught me how to listen.
Current source of inspiration: There are two
people: Pat Jacklin, the CFO of GoodLife, and
Dorothy Walsh, who is Patch’s mom. Pat is a keen
businesswoman; I’ve learned the critical concept of
ROI from her and how every action has a reaction
that needs to be considered. Dorothy is 97 years
old and still works with the company every day,
reviewing statements and budgets. She loves being
part of the company; loves the detail. They both
have wisdom beyond their years and will take a
stand and make waves if they feel it’s important to
do so. Both focus on treating people right.
Best piece of advice ever received: It’s a quote: “Be
responsible for the wake that you leave behind.” I’m
focused on living life full of energy, enthusiasm and
excitement. Be really grateful for what you have,
because life is short. Enjoy every moment.
Favourite music: I love to exercise, so something
with a strong beat is ideal. I love electronic dance
music. It keeps you going and going when you’re
Last book read: To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink. The
message is that “sales” isn’t a dirty word; we’re
all in sales every day. For example, I have to sell
my kids on doing their homework every day. We
shouldn’t cower from that.
36 ❚ MAY 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL