“I WOULD SAY EMPATHY IS KEY IF YOU ARE IN THIS BUSINESS,
OR IF YOU ARE IN ANY LEADERSHIP ROLE, FOR THAT MATTER.”
interest in leading a large HR department in a big corporate environment.
I think for people starting out in HR, it’s important to
be really careful about defining the success quotient. What does
moving up the ladder mean to them? Is it climbing the corporate
ladder, finding work-life balance or having an impact at a not-forprofit
organization? Understand what that looks like before you
put your head down and pursue it. Also, I think if you get the
opportunity to work directly in operations or a business-line, you
should take it, because it will better inform you and give you more
insight and credibility when you go back into the HR world.
The HR field has been evolving. What changes excite
you the most?
MS: I would say technology and data. When I started in HR,
there weren’t a lot of quantitative measures being used. The quantitative
analysis, the tracking of information and the ability to
interpret and model it with all of the technology platforms that
IN A NUTSHELL
First job: I had a part-time job after school at Zellers; I was
in charge of vacuuming the ladies wear department.
Childhood ambition: I wanted to be an engineer. I still tinker
with a lot of things around the house to figure out how they
work; I take them apart and put them back together (most of
Best boss and why: I think the best boss I had was Guy
Leblanc. He was the VP of operations at Canadian Salt.
He gave me my big break into HR when I got that job in
Montreal. He trusted me, but he also appreciated that I was
still young and early in my career, and he made resources
and mentors available to me, and those supports helped me
are out there now is significant. I would also say that technology
has become more accessible and economical. The price and the
access to it is more entry level for any business. I would have never
imagined that when I started in HR or when I started my consulting
business a decade ago.
What’s the future of HR?
MS: I think it is going to be increasingly strategic and increasingly
partnered with the business. A lot of the transactional and
administrative functions of HR are becoming automated with
technology, and technology can (fortunately) do a lot of the heaving
lifting for us. I think HR professionals will be shifting their
focus more and more to strategic and organizational development
– the things that most HR people really long to do, but for the
fact that they have had all this “heavy lifting” work. Whether you
embrace it or not, technology is taking over all of those administrative
Current source of inspiration: My wife. She was the one
who really encouraged me to pursue my consulting practice
when I had doubts and leave the comfort of the corporate
world. She’s always encouraged me to keep going because
she could see the potential in the business – and that I enjoy
Best piece of advice ever received: Lee Iacocca once
said, “Management is nothing more than motivating other
people.” In my experience, I really do believe that is true. If
you can motivate people, you don’t need to manage them.
Favourite music: The Tragically Hip. I have all their albums.
Last book read: The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I have
read it a couple of times; it’s very informative.
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ APRIL 2018 ❚ 49