When did you decide you wanted a
career in human resources?
Jennifer King: I was still in university when I decided I want-ed
to get into human resources. I knew I always wanted to deal
with people and I also liked business. I wanted to pair my fas-cination
for business with people. HR was a great career choice
What was your first HR job?
JK: After I finished my undergraduate degree, I went to Seneca
College to do my post-grad in HR. Fresh out of Seneca, they
had posted a job for an HR generalist position at a small ac-counting
firm. It was my first job and it was also my dream job,
because that position encompassed everything in HR: benefits,
compensation, recruiting, even payroll. I touched on everything.
That gave me really good exposure to every aspect of HR.
Tell me about your current job. What are
your main areas of responsibility?
JK: I’m the director of human resources at FORREC. I am lucky
to still have a generalist position here where I’m responsible for
strategy, while managing benefits, compensation, recruiting,
succession and talent planning. I’m working closely with senior
leadership to develop the HR strategy in line with the business
strategy. I think you need to have a hands-on perspective to do
this job properly in a company of this size.
What do you love about your job?
JK: I love the variety. I’ve been lucky, because the generalist
role has been a theme throughout my entire career. Every day is
completely different; it’s very interesting and meaningful work
that impacts my entire team and the entire company. Plus, this
place is just cool! I work with the most creative and interesting
people. They’re very passionate about their craft and there is
such a great feeling about working here.
What are the challenges you experience in your job?
JK: The recruiting is challenging because we are very niche-focused.
It’s hard to find senior level people with the right
experience – most people do not have theme park experience.
So we look for people with an eye for design and hire those peo-ple,
and they learn the rest with us. The other part that’s been
challenging is that when I joined, we had 70 people and now
we’re around 135. You need more structure and process as you
grow, and implementing structure can be challenging with de-signers
and creative types who don’t like to be put into a box.
What’s key to leading HR during a difficult
time for a client organization?
JK: I have to go back again to the challenge of recruiting and
retention. We need to keep our skills and talent in-house and
allow people to grow into leadership roles. You have to be able
to listen to your employees, be transparent and communicate
action plans. You want to share the good, bad and ugly with ev-eryone
to reduce the rumour mill and foster engagement with
your employees so you have their support when you need it. We
need to make people feel like they’re in the loop and invested in
what we’re doing as a company.
What skills are important for success in HR?
JK: I think the number one skill is that you have to really un-derstand
the business side. You need business acumen and an
understanding of the bottom line, how the business is run and
also what investments will garner the biggest return from an
HR perspective. I think it’s even more important as you grow in
your career and start taking on more senior positions.
Auspicious / Shutterstock.com 38 ❚ NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL