What are the necessary competencies for success in HR
and how do you think those have changed throughout
MJH: I think they’ve always been important, but I’d say certain
things such as analytics and knowing your numbers, whether it’s
for compensation or data, are crucial. Also, good writing skills
allow you to communicate to people in a clear, concise manner.
In today’s day and age, there is less face-to-face communication,
so writing is even more significant. On the softer side, the ability
to be agile in a changing environment is imperative. There is also
the skill of taking a step back to see the bigger picture and adapting
accordingly. Lastly, I think the power of networking is often
lost mid-career, when many people get married and have a family
life to focus on. I think it’s really important to pick that up again,
to maintain a human connection with people and get outside your
own environment. I learn so much from my peers, many of whom
are good friends.
What tips do you have for new grads or those in entrylevel
HR jobs who want to move up the ladder?
MJH: I think finding ways to add value is always a good strategy.
I think of other new grads we’ve hired who have been successful,
and self-awareness has been very important. Don’t be afraid to ask
for feedback; but with that, be prepared to hear the feedback and
work really hard to fill the gaps between where you are and where
you want to be. I would also say finding a mentor is really helpful.
The HR field has been evolving. What changes excite
you the most?
MJH: The pace of change is what I find so exciting, particularly
as it relates to aligning that pace of change with the readiness of
your organization. There’s a lot of incredible analysis being done
on the future of work and how roles will evolve. Part of my responsibilities
include helping the business understand how quickly
those changes will happen and why, so that we are in a position to
hr career path
What’s the future of HR?
MJH: Bright! I sincerely believe that. I think that as our work
environment continues to evolve, the human element becomes
even more critical. It’s about valuing people’s contributions and
recognizing them. We haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg in
terms of mental health and how that will affect our work environment.
There is so much coming down the pipeline that HR plays
a crucial role in – and if done well, we can help ensure the future
success of the business. If done poorly, it will no doubt contribute
to the downfall of the business. n
First job: The summer I turned 16,
I worked in the games booths at
Centreville Amusement Park on
Toronto’s Centre Island. It was so
Childhood ambition: I actually
wanted to be an astronaut. But,
being a massive extrovert with
a touch of claustrophobia, I
realized it really wasn’t a good
career choice for me.
Current source of inspiration:
I have to say it’s my parents.
They’re in their 70s, and still
very healthy and active. They
have been married 52 years and
maintain strong ties to all their
kids (and grandchildren). I only
hope I’m as lucky, to have what
they have when I am their age.
Best piece of advice ever
received: Pick your boss. You
can’t always do that, but when
you think about how essential
your relationship with your boss
is, and how valuable mutual
respect and common values are,
it’s so important.
Favourite music: My favourite
radio show is Raina Douris on
CBC Music. I spend a lot of time
in my vehicle commuting from
Toronto to Oakville and love her
show in the mornings.
Last book read: Washington
Black by Canadian author
IN A NUTSHELL
“I THINK A BUSINESS
REQUIRES ALL KINDS
AND THE HUMAN
COMPONENT IS SO
GIVEN HOW MANY
– MARY-JO HEWAT
Book cover: HarperCollins
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ APRIL 2019 ❚ 23