HR Times Issue 02: Leadership in HR

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HR TIMES Leadership in HR

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About us


Editor’s Notes Theme Introduction to Professionals

Interview with Professionals Introduction to Students

Interview with Students Insights of the day HRSA updates Closing Remarks

ABOUT US SELENA SITU VP of Corporate & External TERESA LI Relations VP of Corporate & External Relations

The Human Resources Student Association (HRSA) is a studentrun business organization at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. We provide students with networking

VICTOR LE External Relations Coordinator



opportunities and resources to learn about the various functions of Human Resources and its significance in the workplace. Through the initiatives and events offered by the organization, HRSA strives to increase

HARMAN CHHINA SIMRAN SHARMA VP of Finance VP of Marketing & Operations

student awareness and engagement. Founded in 2004, HRSA is regarded as a successful and accomplished student organization, recognized as the only Human Resources business organization at

HELEN SU VP of Internal Relations

SFU. HR Times is a magazine run for students by HRSA. Founded in 2020 as a new initiative, we hope to support and inform students of the various trends in HR.

LISA YANG Corporate Relations Coordinator

JORDAN CHIANG External Relations Coordinator

Connect with us on our social media: IG: @sfuhrsa FB: Linkedin: Website: 1


Welcome back to the second issue of HR Times! Thank you all for the support for the first issue! We hope everyone had a successful midterm season; it might have been a tough one, but we survived it. As we enter the transition from fall to winter you can start drinking hot chocolate instead of pumpkin spice lattes while reading our magazine. In this month’s issue, we will be discussing Leadership in Human Resources. As we transition from inperson teamwork to online, it is important to understand the change in leadership style and how that has affected Humans Resources. In this issue, we’re going to provide you with some career insights from industry professionals and tips from your fellow peers in Beedie! It is a privilege working with professionals and students to connect our readers to learn more about the HR industry. We want to give a huge shout-out to our coordinators, Jordan Chiang and Victor Le, who have joined our team and have greatly supported us by connecting with professionals to bring industry insights to our readers. We would also like to give a special shout-out to the Visual Media coordinators, Catherine Cui, Janice Wang, and Naomi Crich. We couldn’t have done it without them! Please stay in touch with us as we continue bringing the rest of the magazine issues to real-life. If you are interested or know someone who is interested in being a part of our magazine, please reach out to us. On behalf of the entire HRSA family, we are excited to share with you this month’s content as you sip on your hot chocolate. Cheers,

Teresa Li

VP of Corporate Relations & External Relations

Selena Situ

Jordan Chiang

VP of Corporate Relations & External Relations

External Relations Coordinator

Victor Le

External Relations Coordinator




Teresa Li Selena Situ Jordan Chiang Victor Le

Catherine Cui Naomi Crich Janice Wang

Jessica Pham, Helen Su Selena Situ, Teresa Li, Chenlei Zhang, Simran Sharma, Harman Chhina


H i

Introduction to the Theme :


LEADER -S H I P Leadership is essential within an organization because it drives individuals to meet their organizational goals. Working in tandem with HR, companies can foster employee engagement and enhance employee growth. Not only that, but HR can help create future leaders in a professional environment. With organizations embracing leadership, it will strengthen their productivity and motivate employees to reach new goals. Therefore, Navigating Leadership Through HR is crucial to a workplace and what we will be asking the HR professionals in this HR Times issue.



NORAH XU Evolution Gaming HR Manager Canada & North America People Excellence Lead

Norah is a progressive Human Resources leader with extensive well rounded Human Resources experience in Canadian and Global companies. She has in-depth experience in the areas of Recruitment, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Coaching, Change Management, Performance Management, Employee Relations, and Total Rewards.



CHRIS LO City of Burnaby HR Advisor - Recruitment

Chris has over 15 years of progressive HR experience and graduated from SFU with a Bachelor of Business Administration and concentration in HR (2009). He currently works for the City of Burnaby which is the third-largest municipality in British Columbia and was named Best Run City in Canada. He has held a variety of roles throughout his career, however, the common thread tying them together is relationship management and a people-focus. In addition, Chris is a dad to two awesome twins and a husband to a superhero wife. He likes to continually learn, as he has furthered his education by getting his CPHR designation (2013), a Career Development Practitioner Certificate (2014) and is currently enrolled in the Diversity and Inclusion UBC Award of Achievement Program.



JONATHAN MORSE Microserve Talent Acquisition Manager

Jonathan was born and raised in Vancouver and is a third-generation Vancouverite. He grew up in West Vancouver, going to Collingwood school, and coming out of high school he never really knew exactly what he wanted to do for a career. He has been working in the recruiting and HR world for almost 6 years now, but it wasn’t always where he thought he was going to be and now that he is here, it is where he wants to stay. Jonathan’s career has been a bit of a roller coaster ride over the years. He started in the kitchen and became a chef until he decided the overall lifestyle wasn’t very healthy for his social personality. He had an opportunity to move into sales, selling mailing equipment for companies and took it, having the gift of the gab. He advanced his career working with one company for almost 9 years and becoming the sales manager. Sales have taught him the importance of listening and being able to build relationships and mend broken ones with clients and even employees who weren’t happy. Being able to ask the right questions to figure out the main points that clients have and listening to them to gain their trust. This played an important role in his move into the talent industry and being able to gain the trust of his employees and internal managers. Jonathan has always been one who wants to continue to improve and not be afraid to make mistakes in order to learn. In fact, at this very moment, he is taking more courses at SFU and self-assessing some of the areas he wants to improve in. Never be afraid to go back to school, make mistakes and ask questions.



How do you encourage and foster cordial leadership in the workplace?

I think cordial leadership is developed based on trust and mutual respect between leaders and employees, which leads to a motivated, loyal and high-performing environment. I always coach our leaders to ask for input from employees through 1-1s and formal meetings, then they are encouraged to consider feedback from the team before making a decision. When employees feel their voice is heard and their contributions matter, trust and respect will be built between employees and leaders. Chris By setting an example in my professional interactions with colleagues, staff groups and candidates. This involves being self-aware and knowing what my moment-to-moment experience is. When having those deeper conversations with employees, I try to communicate honestly and sincerely. Being more curious in those chats also helps others communicate better and I try to do that by trying to put myself in their shoes and understand their experience as best as they can tell me. Jonathan When we look at building relationships within the workplace we have to look at treating everyone with respect. This comes from the leaders of our organization in how the company is run and how we treat our employees. We make sure to regularly include all staff members in town hall meetings and events. As leaders, we then make sure that everyone has the same opportunities to bring ideas, values, culture, and religion with no one’s beliefs and thoughts being less meaningful than any of the others. The overall company goals and strategies are made from the top but as leaders, you discuss these with the teams and collaboratively come up with ideas on how to achieve the targets and goals. We need to make our employees feel welcome in the workplace and this only helps produce better productivity and employees wanting to come into the workplace. In our new virtual work environment, it is even more important for not only the leaders but senior staff to keep in touch with team mem7

bers and new employees. This could be done through a simple note or welcome message when a new employee starts, to learn about what makes them tick and what their interests are. With anything the most important thing is to listen to employees, take their suggestions and learn what their strengths and weaknesses are to help them improve or advance. Every Monday morning my team gets together and we don’t jump right into work but instead ask “how was the weekend?” Norah

In what ways do you or your organization help develop or improve leaders?

I’m a firm believer of “good leaders are trained and nurtured, not born”. In terms of training, I constantly provide our managers and leaders with internal and external educational opportunities to help them refine their leadership skills. whilst leadership nurturing has a broader spectrum, which includes coaching, challenging, role-playing and job shadowing etc. Chris When working with clients, I always look for opportunities to partner with them and encourage them to expand their knowledge in the recruiting space. The City of Burnaby offers a variety of internal training courses that help our employees develop leadership skills including programs such as Leading from the Frontline, Insights for Personal Effectiveness, Emotional Intelligence etc. Jonathan I learnt early on in my career that sometimes what the employee wants to do doesn’t match what the employer has in mind. Within my current organization at Microserve we sit down with employees on our teams and we talk about where they want to be and what opportunities we have in not only their current team but in the company as well. I encourage employees to make decisions and take chances as I am not going to fault them for making the mistake but ask them where they went wrong in order to help them learn from these mistakes. By mentoring our employees rather than dictating I want to give them the chance to learn and grow their skills on the job. Our organization embraces bringing in Coop students who want to learn and set goals. We offer tuition reimbursement to all employees who want to take on some courses to help with advancing or to even just do better in their current role. In HR we know we always have to look at our current employees and see where there are surplus or shortages and 8

manage our turnover. Generally speaking, when staff move on or retire, the easiest replacement is from within the organization. We understand that sometimes this doesn’t move fast enough for some employees so we always need to make sure that we are having discussions on a regular basis with our employees and listening to them.


What do you believe is the most effective style of leadership within a workplace especially in a HR setting?

I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all leadership style, so I’ve always been adopting the concept of “situational leadership model”, which refers to the strategy that leaders adapt leadership styles of telling, selling, participating and delegating to maturity level (ie. level of knowledge and competence) of the team that can be categorized to lack the knowledge, skills, and willingness to complete the task; willing and enthusiastic, but lack the ability; have the skills and capability to complete the task, but are unwilling to take responsibility, as well as highly skilled and willing to complete the task. Chris A leader who leads with their actions. Someone who not only listens but takes the time to understand the needs of those in the organization. Jonathan HR is the community voice of the organization. We represent the people of the office and our HR plan coincides with the business plan to be able to build and foster the relationships within the office. As an employee, your first conversation is generally with HR and this is giving you the first impression of who could potentially be your employer. I don’t see HR as the typical leaders but as influencers, directors, guidance and social committee of the organization. Yes, we have leaders within the HR to present the HR plan for all the divisions in an organization to work with the business, but HR now needs to be thought conscious of everyone who is coming in and out of an organization from onboarding to off-boarding and everything inbetween. As community leaders, we look at diversity to make sure we are represented and inclusive. HR needs to be open to change and as leaders 9

need to be listening not only to what is going on in the office but outside of the organization as well. More and more now we are in a world where social responsibility drives and social media is the platform we use and even more so no in the virtual work environment. As leaders, HR has to be able to be approachable, influential and responsible. The business comes to us with the questions of what is wrong or right and we need to be able to stand up for everyone who is in the built community. Effective HR leaders are aware of everything that is going on around them and not afraid to stand up for what is right and make the suggestions to make the changes necessary. HR isn’t just the policies and acts, we are the representative message that is portrayed to the staff and sent out into the public and we need to lead this image.


Do you think that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a change in leadership due to work being performed remotely?

It definitely has. Pre-pandemic, leaders have been focused on KPIs, performance, priorities only, and most of the employees’ emotional challenges can be detected through face-to-face interactions and can be addressed in early stages. During the Pandemic, the long-term remote work cut off employees’ social connections significantly, and employees tend to feel isolated. With that in mind, it’s critical for leaders to be more caring, pay attention to employees’ emotional and mental health. Chris Yes – especially for organizations and departments that are used to only working on-site. There is less in-person visibility, so leaders have had to find new ways of reaching out and staying in touch with their employees. Jonathan Most definitely it has. We are now living in a world where the majority of companies have run in an office space. Technology has brought us the ability to be more flexible in the work from home environment but it is still very dominated by being in the office. We have had to change the way we interact with our employees, come up with new policies on how we manage the work environments and how we all stay connected. As leaders, this is where we now can’t 10

lead by the visual example and have to motivate our employees to stay on task while being distracted in a home environment. Myself, I have a 10 year old and a 1 year old daughter as well as a wife who also works from home. As leaders we need to check in even more than before, not only on the work being done but making sure that our employees’ mental health is being taken into consideration. We all miss the human interaction and conversations, the friendly daily banter in the office space so how do we continue to drive this as we all work miles apart. We are still hiring new employees so how do we build them into the company culture? The overall leadership position really doesn’t change, it is just now how we voice it out. The goal still remains to be profitable, drive, train and bring on the best employees to grow the organization. As an HR group, we should always be reaching out and staying connected to the HR network and world and even more so now to gauge how everyone else is coping and for new ideas to stay connected as a group. Chris

Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?

As we continue our journey down the COVID-19 recovery path, there is much work to be done and as long as we work together and do not lose heart, we will make an impact and will be successful. Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin if you have any questions about working in HR for a municipal employer: ( Also check out some great career opportunities with the City of Burnaby at:! Jonathan Never be afraid to pitch in with ideas, do something that you want to do not what someone else thinks that you should be doing. It’s in our human nature to make mistakes and this is how we learn, we just reflect and look back at them in order to learn and grow. If you are ever having an issue speak up and tell someone, mental health and well being is so very important. My part in being in HR is to have an open door for employees, friends and family to feel comfortable to come and speak to me about anything. I have been there and reaching out is what helped me and I am always willing to help out and just listen. We are in very trying times right now but we will all come out of this stronger as human beings and a society if we work together, listen and speak out when we need to. 11


RACHEL DEE Fourth-Year Student at the Beedie School of Business Concentrating in Human Resourses and Marketing

Rachel is a fourth-year Beedie student concentrating in Human Resources and Marketing. She is currently on Co-op as the Program and Events Assistant at SFU Public Square. Shaped by involvement with HRSA, CaseIT, BASS, and Beedie Launch, Rachel has had the opportunity to gain leadership experience working with many other student organizations and their leaders. Passionate about student engagement and community involvement, she strives to apply her experiences to various student groups and organizations to make lasting, impactful changes to SFU and the greater community.



JAYA GILL Senior Student at the Beedie School of Business Concentrating in Human Resourses, Management Information Systems & Operations Management

Jaya is a senior student at the Beedie School of Business. She is concentrating in Human Resources, Management Information Systems, and Operations Management and will be finishing her courses this fall. Throughout her undergrad, Jaya has had the pleasure of being involved in various student organizations such as JDC West, CaseIT and most recently, LAUNCH. These opportunities have helped her explore her passion for HR and develop skills that she can apply in a more professional setting. Outside of class and work, you can find Jaya staying active or hanging out with friends. Since the onset of COVID-19, she has been enjoying hiking, biking and spending time with her family!



LANA TRAN Fourth-Year Student at the Beedie School of Business Concentrating in Human Resourses and International Business

Lana is a fourth-year student at the Beedie School of Business, concentrating in Human Resources and International Business. In addition to that, she’s hoping to get a French Language Proficiency Certificate after graduation. She has been involved in BASS, HRSA, and SFU Wish Youth Network Society. She completed her first co-op term at the beginning of 2020, as an HR & Administration Assistant at Virtro Entertainment, a virtual reality startup. Through her work in student organizations, she has developed a passion for mentorship and connecting students to leadership opportunities. She hopes to work in recruitment, training & development, advising, and project management in the future.


INTERVIEW WITH STUDENTS Rachel I’ve always been interested in working with different audiences and diverse groups. I’ve particularly found that I love working with students and found as I took more HR classes, I recognized the applicability of many concepts and how course concepts will help you in many aspects of life. Whether through group projects, work environments, or interviews, HR will be applicable and relevant to the work you do anywhere. While HR was my first choice, it can definitely take time to go through your courses to decide what you want to concentrate in! Take time to figure out what you like and are interested in, as well as join clubs, such as HRSA that will give you first-hand experiences of what working in the field may be like.

What influenced your decision to concentrate in HR? Why are you interested in HR? Was HR your first choice?

Jaya Coming into Beedie I was unsure of what I wanted to concentrate in, but it did not take long before I realized that I wanted to pursue HR. Getting involved in JDC West near the end of my first year of studies exposed me to recruitment efforts and managing teams, both of which I really enjoyed. As a member of the executive team, I also helped build the culture of the team for that year which was an incredible experience and ignited my desire to concentrate in HR. With the help of my extracurricular experiences, I have found myself most interested in working with others and supporting the ‘people’ part of organizations. More specifically, I have enjoyed learning about how organizational culture, learning and development, and change management play a role in companies. One of the most important things I have learned, and one of the reasons why I enjoy HR so much, is that each organization is different. Different companies will be facing different challenges, whether regarding organizational culture, recruitment, improving employee morale, or anything else and the way this is handled varies by the company as well. Lana

In high school, I was interested in Arts & Social Sciences, especially in the area of languages. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I discovered Human Resources and took a risk to apply to Business. It took me a few months of deliberation to finally 15

apply to Beedie, but I knew that if I had chosen Arts, I wouldn’t grow as a person. I had always envisioned what kind of person I wanted to become, but this couldn’t be done until I made a change. I knew that if I applied to Beedie, it would force me out of my comfort zone. Although I wasn’t an extrovert, I was always interested in people and different personality types, and especially how they work together. In an organization, I believe that the people are the most valuable resources, and can’t be replaced by anything. Additionally, I’ve seen firsthand how an organizational culture can make or break a workplace, and I believe HR plays a significant role in shaping and supporting a positive environment.


Were you/are you involved in any extracurriculars that have helped you in your professional development?

It all started with HRSA for me. In my first semester at SFU, I was a volunteer for the HR Now Conference, then was encouraged to apply for Spring Soiree, where I then worked as an External Relations Coordinator. Following Spring Soiree, I moved on to be the Director of Logistics for BASS Celebration Gala, and then the Director of Events for CaseIT. Experience from extracurriculars helped me land my first job at the Simon Fraser Student Society in the Member Services department. Working at the SFSS allowed me to work with students from other organizations and learn the back end of event planning, ultimately allowing me to apply those skills to other club positions and SFU organizations. From the SFSS, I moved on to be a Transition Events Assistant at SFU Student Engagement and Retention and assist with the planning of SFU’s first virtual Welcome Day and HIVE Programming. And now, I am on co-op! I can easily say that experience from extracurriculars have been the most substantial help for my personal and professional development. Jaya Throughout my degree, I have been involved in JDC West, CaseIT, and LAUNCH, all of which have helped me gain skills and apply them in a real-world setting. While my positions have not always been specifically HR roles, each opportunity has taught me about the importance and value of HR within organizations. Two opportunities I would like to highlight are competing in the HR discipline for JDC West and becoming a LAUNCH House Captain. Competing in a case competition allowed me to apply the skills I had learned in the classroom to real companies and their situations. Throughout my training, I was able to improve my presentation, communication skills, and was given the opportunity to meet various industry professionals. 16

Being a LAUNCH Captain has been an extremely rewarding experience as well and taught me about the importance of leadership and culture when working in a remote environment. Learning and seeing HR practices applied in a realistic sense helped me learn and gain skills that will surely stay with me after my degree and into a work setting as well. Lana I wasn’t expecting to get involved when I entered university because I never did anything outside of class in high school. In my first year, I started off by volunteering for an HRSA event, and then became the VP of Human Resources for SFU Wish Youth Network Society, a non-profit charity organization. Then, I joined BASS as a Human Resources Coordinator, and continued as the VP of Operations and Program Manager of the BASS Mentorship Program. I was able to get a variety of different experiences in these roles that helped me determine my strengths and weaknesses. I experienced recruitment, working with different personality types, event-planning, and managing multiple teams simultaneously. These opportunities not only helped me in my professional development but also personally. Rachel I would describe myself as a Charismatic leader. My goal always is to ensure the individuals I’m working with are comfortable in their environment and feel open to discuss anything. Individuals within the team should always feel supported and know that their work is valued and they are an equal team member. Positivity, encouragement and support will allow you to better connect with your team, and make a huge difference in work output and quality.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Jaya I would describe my leadership style as democratic or participative. When leading a team, I strongly believe that having input from team members, collaboration, and team involvement are crucial to being successful. Involvement from team members also helps to improve team morale by ensuring members feel heard, thus creating a more desirable environment. I try to create a team setting that allows everyone to share their voice and feel respected, which helps create a safe and open environment. From my team experiences, I find that those where leaders try to control members or provide specific directions at all times can be restricting. Instead, providing members autonomy when possible helps to create a more positive experience for everyone involved. At the same time, I also like to provide some structure when needed so there is a sense of direction for team members and they do not feel as if they are going into situations blindly. In this sense, I would say I am more 17

of an active leader as I try to be proactive about where my team may run into challenges and determine how I can support them. Lana I genuinely care about my team members’ well-being and personal development. I would say my leadership style is a mix of directive and empowering leadership. In the beginning, I am usually more directive in the way that I set up a general timeline for the project, set expectations and goals, and implement guidelines. After those aspects have been determined, I coach and lead my members by example and support them in developing their skills. I also really value feedback and conduct check-ins with each of my members to see if there’s anything I can change in the way I lead, and accommodate each of them.


What advice would you give to students wanting to enhance their leadership skills?

Get involved early! It is that first step of getting involved that will make a huge difference in all your experiences that follow. As previously discussed, being involved not only opens many doors for gaining connections, but you will also learn intangible skills that can be applied to many different areas in and out of university. Getting involved can be scary at first, but many of your fellow students, faculty staff, and alumni are there to help you get involved and make the most out of your university experience. If you don’t yet feel ready to work your own position in a student organization, attend events from other clubs! Follow club social media pages, attend club days, connect with other student leaders, and know your limits when it comes to getting involved. Jaya For any student wanting to gain and improve their leadership skills, I recommend getting involved in student organizations. There are a variety of roles available, each of which will help you build foundational skills required when working with others and help you enhance your leadership skills. In a reallife setting, textbook knowledge and theories learned in class do not always transfer directly. Getting involved in student organizations allows you to apply the knowledge you have gained and explore how to make it successful in organizations or workplaces you participate in. Being involved on a team also exposes you to a variety of leadership styles, each of which can contribute to your preference of leadership style. As well, over the course of your undergraduate studies, you will likely have different leaders, and each will allow you to gain insight on which type of leadership style may be best under different circumstances. Through these 18

experiences, students can gain different perspectives on how to lead a team and determine what may be successful and what may not. I believe that these opportunities, especially through extracurricular involvement, help students build a strong interpersonal foundation as they develop leadership skills. Lana In order to improve, you must do something you’ve never done before. If you don’t have any hands-on experience, I would highly suggest that you get involved in student organizations. It was definitely scary for me to apply for positions when I first began university, but I wanted a new outcome for myself, and trying something new was the only way I could have a chance to achieve that outcome. A tip to enhance your leadership skills is to be observant and practice adapting to different personality types. Change the way you approach and work with each person in your team. This way, you’ll be able to look at situations and problems from every perspective and also become more empathetic. If you get the chance to recruit your own team, remember to hire a mix of people that will fill in each other’s gaps. This also helps because when your team is facing a roadblock, having people with different perspectives will help you come to a better solution than having a team of people who all think the same way. Rachel It is alright to take losses as well. Sometimes things don’t always end up the way you expect. It can be difficult to not get the experience you intended for or not receive the support you imagined, but eventually, things will find their way. One loss is an open door for another opportunity, and it never hurts to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Stay positive and know that there will always be more opportunities, and from losses, sometimes you can learn more than what you would have if you won/ were successful. You might not get the first position that you apply to, but continue applying yourself and working on yourself for you! Feel free to connect with me through email, or through Linkedin @ Rachel Dee if you have any questions about student leadership or getting involved!

Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?

Lana Make sure to take advantage of opportunities! For me, half of the challenge was taking the first step. From there, everything else fell into place. It’s important to be open-minded, because things won’t get better unless you make the change yourself. Be sure to look into all areas of HR, sometimes you won’t discover your passion unless you put in the effort to find it! Connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat! 19

INSIGHTS OF THE DAY CONCEPTS OF THE DAY Organization Climate The prevailing atmosphere that exists in an organization and its impacts on employees

Proactive Leadership

Taking special measures to plan ahead to develop replacements for senior executives because of their key strategic role

Proactive leadership is about taking time to plan, improve how your team works and putting measures in place to prevent problems before they happen.


of HR professionals cited the top reason for difficulty finding the right employee as “competition from other employers�. (SHRM)


Succession Planning


of employees reported that they referred an acquaintance or friend to a company that they were employed at. (Jobvite)



of employees in younger generations reported that they would leave a job if there was no potential for career development. (Jobvite)


Bi-monthly magazine and bimonthly podcasts are coming your way! Look out for the second podcast of our podcast series, HR Secrets, in December!


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Thank you to CPHR BC and Yukon for sponsoring SFU HRSA!


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