Talent Management
HR Professional
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By Lisa Kopochinski


Recruitment expert

A career in human resources did not immediately come to mind for Simon Parkin. Even after graduating from McMaster University with a degree in economics and political science, it wasn't until a friend convinced him to enroll in the post-degree HR program at Sheridan College did he find his calling.


“I knew on the first day that human resources was a great fit for me,” he said. “The profession offered a great opportunity for working with people and businesses in achieving their goals and successes.”


Since that time 20 years ago, Parkin - who grew up in Thornhill, Ont. - has built a strong career as an HR, recruitment and talent leader. He started his career at Accenture, where he was initially responsible for providing employee relations support to HR business partners and leaders.


“After a few years, I had the opportunity to move into a recruitment strategy role helping to shape and execute their progressive vision of recruitment,” he said.


From Accenture, he was approached by American Express to develop and lead an in-house recruitment model focused on acquiring quality talent in the Canadian market. After successfully building that model, Parkin continued to develop and lead recruitment functions for American Express markets across the globe, becoming their global talent acquisition leader.


He then decided to open his own full-service HR consulting firm and formed the Talent Company in 2011.

HR Professional caught up with Parkin to discuss why he loves this industry - and particularly recruitment - so much.


What is your role as senior recruitment transformation advisor and practice leader?

Simon Parkin: I am focused on projects ranging from developing and enhancing key components of our client's recruitment practices to a complete review, analysis and transformation of their function.

We have a number of high-growth clients who have asked us to build their HR and recruitment practices. Many mid-sized clients come to us with a challenge - not just to solve an issue - but also how to evolve as a recruitment function and become more proactive.


What do you love about your job?

SP: I love the great people I work with. I have been fortunate to build a great team of experienced professionals who share the same focus of quality and innovation with me and are also fun to work with.

We work with so many great organizations of all sizes across many different industries and regions around the globe that I continue to learn about businesses I have never been exposed to previously. The one common theme among all of our clients is the desire to improve the way they recruit and manage talent.


What skills do you possess that make you a great fit for your position?

SP: I would say some of my core skills that have contributed to my success are problem solving, perseverance, influencing, partnering, networking, learning and understanding, as well as my upbeat style of communication. I also make it a point to not take myself too seriously. It's very important to have a sense of humour and appreciate that we are in a human business.


What does a typical day at work for you look like?

SP: There is rarely a typical day at work for me, which is one of the great things about my role. Every day often begins with a new challenge with a new client and an opportunity to improve the way they recruit and manage their talent. To be successful, an organization like ours cannot have an “off the shelf” or “one size fits all” approach to developing the right solution for our clients.


What are some of the challenges you experience on a day-to-day basis?

SP: It often has to do with an organization's poor level of investment in their recruitment practices. I work directly with our clients to ensure they have the right level of education, investment, training, tools, measures and data to properly equip the business and the recruitment team to be successful. My philosophy is centered around the premise that every open position is an opportunity to upgrade your talent and positively impact your organization's bottom line.


What are your ultimate career goals?

SP: My goals are all related to progressing and elevating the recruitment and talent acquisition function in Canada. I see very few organizations in Canada making the appropriate level of investment into their recruitment and talent acquisition functions, and I will continue to be an advocate for new, progressive and innovating approaches to hiring the best talent for an organization.


What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing a career in recruitment?

SP: Join a great organization where HR is viewed as a true business partner. Work hard and build relationships across the organization and opportunities will continue to come your way. Always look for an opportunity to add value in your role


A great HR leader once gave me what I consider the best advice I ever received. He said, “Never be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone. That is the only way you will ever truly develop.”


I have been looking for ways to step out of my comfort zone ever since and have learned a lot about myself along the way.

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