First job: I worked at Henry’s Pharmacy in Timmins, Ont., where I was stationed at a cosmetics bar with a
number of different cosmetics lines. It was the place to be as a teenager!
Childhood ambition: I wanted to be an astronaut. I am fascinated by how large the world is, but how small at
the same time. Getting a view from the outside in was an exciting notion.
Best boss and why: My first boss at Placer Dome, G.B., was the best. He was so hands-off and that allowed
me to get involved with everything. It enabled me to do things I didn’t think I was ready to do. It provided the
right foundation for me in this profession.
Current source of inspiration: My three children, aged 16, 14 and 10. They provide a source of daily
inspiration and that comes from experiencing the world through their eyes. Today’s teens are in a different
category. They challenge how I think about everything and how I view the world. I’m their role model, so I
have to be on my best game!
Best piece of advice ever received: To ask yourself this question: “What’s the worst thing that could
happen?” I think I was about 35 years old and I was working for Kinross Gold at the time and one of my
colleagues counselled me to get out of my comfort zone. He asked me that question and now I ask myself the
same thing on a regular basis. I think I’ve broken a lot of barriers because of that advice.
Favourite music: Definitely 1980s rock and roll.
Last book read: The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch
On and Others Don’t, by Carmine Gallo. It contains powerful stories about some of the challenges business
leaders had to overcome.
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult
time for a client organization?
LZ: I think agility is extremely important. I believe one size
doesn’t fit all and I don’t subscribe to theoretical answers for every
situation. I think that every business and every leader is unique.
Working closely with them, understanding the root issues and
looking at all the available resources to customize the right solu-tion
is very important.
What are the necessary competencies for
success in HR and how do you think those
have changed throughout your career?
LZ: For me, authenticity is the number one requirement for a suc-cessful
HR professional. Understand your own values and how
they contribute to the work you do. Second, have courage. As you
progress through your career, find your inner courage to make
your point of view known. Articulate your passions in a way the
business will understand. Next, be strategic. Being strategic means
understanding the business from an internal and external per-spective.
What challenges are coming and what solutions should
you implement in order to stay current and deliver the strategy?
Finally, be consultative. You are a partner to the business in every
regard. You must understand where it is and where it’s going and
then bring out your HR toolbox to provide insight and solutions
that will help leaders deliver their strategy more effectively.
What tips do you have for new grads or those in entry-level
HR jobs who want to move up the ladder?
LZ: Get involved with everything! When a new opportunity arises
that may not be in your direct line of sight, take it anyway. The more
experience you have in every facet of HR, the more credibility you
will have in the future. Second, make your intentions known. Make
sure your manager understands that you want to progress and what
opportunities you would take. Finally, I would say it’s important to
listen to your gut, find your voice and deliver results.
The HR field has been evolving. What
changes excite you the most?
LZ: The whole notion of the future of work: automation, tech-nology
and its uses. These are key considerations in HR. I think
that HR leaders have a very important role in helping the busi-ness
define how it can be most efficient with its use of technology,
artificial intelligence and actual talent. Every business is different,
but these things are upon us and they are changing the landscape
of the business world in general. I think we are at a point in time
where we can recreate what an organization actually looks like!
What’s the future of HR?
LZ: If we follow this trajectory, I see HR as a very important consul-tant
to the business. I think it’s very exciting because we have so many
options at our disposal. There are no limitations to how we can help
the business become more profitable while leveraging talent! n
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