HR Summit Awards honour top pros

7 professionals honoured for excellence, from ‘rising star’ to top academic
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/22/2010

Having worked for a few years as a sales manager and a manager at a recruitment firm, Heidi Hauver recognized she was more in tune with the human resources side of her job than the sales. After taking a few HR courses, she went on to become an HR generalist and now works at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority in Ottawa as an HR manager.

The 45-employee company has been a great career break, she said, as previously it did not have any HR staff.

“It was an opportunity where I could build from the ground up and work on lots of different facets, from orientation and onboarding to implementing exit interviews to health and safety to lunch-and-learns,” said Hauver. “You name it, I’ve gotten to work on it, so it’s been a really fun experience.”

One day is never the same as the next, especially in a role that involves so many different facets, she said, and she tries hard to balance the interests of employees and the organization. But one of the best parts of the job is seeing employees progress through their careers.

“I get a real kick out of that,” she said.

And Hauver’s career path is just beginning. She has almost completed a bachelor’s degree in HR and labour relations and aspires to become a vice-president of HR one day.

That drive and enthusiasm was recognized at the 2010 Human Resources Summit Awards in Toronto on Jan. 26, where Hauver was presented with the Carswell HR Rising Star award (Carswell is part of Thomson Reuters, publisher of Canadian HR Reporter and a co-sponsor of the awards along with the Human Resources Professionals Association).

Compass Group Canada saw two of its people receive awards. Brenda Brown, senior vice-president of HR, was given the Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year award for programs and services that successfully impacted morale and internal communications for 22,000 workers. Her business-aligning initiatives have included programs to control overspending and labour costs, a consistent labour relations approach across Canada and an award-winning aboriginal inclusion program.

Having started her career in finance at Bell Canada, Brown used her financial expertise when she moved into HR to help control soaring benefit costs for about 60,000 employees, a pensioners and their dependants, she said. And she never looked back.

“Having a financial background has helped me be fiscally conscious in my HR role, especially in light of the fact that HR functions are primarily staff/overhead-related as opposed to revenue generating, although we are sometimes successful in this regard,” said Brown.

Compass has developed many great programs over the years, in succession planning, talent management, health and safety and compensation and benefits, she said.

And a measure of that success is the rate of turnover at Compass, which is lower than the industry standard, she said.

“I savour the opportunity to have a positive impact on an employee’s well-being and future career — whether it is related to career advice or preparation of development plans. Sometimes, it is as simple as explaining how a particular benefit plan can assist them with an issue,” said Brown.

“I like the unpredictability of each day, how one call or email can change your focus for the day.”

And Sandi Channing, director of total rewards at Compass, received the GlaxoSmithKline Innovation in Total Rewards award for a strategy that resulted in high employee satisfaction levels among 18,000 workers. Her work has helped Compass earn a place on Canada’s Top 100 Employers list, by Mediacorp Canada, for the past two years.

Deborah Zinni, an associate professor at Brock University, was recognized for her extensive work in HR with the Right Management HR Academic of the Year award. More recently, she has helped develop a master of science program for HR and organizational behaviour, which will launch at Brock in the fall of 2010.

Receiving the award serves as an acknowledgement you’re making a difference, she said, “particularly where I am right now as an academic, that we’re able to pass on knowledge to students and they go out and help build the profession.”

Zinni has worked for more than 20 years in senior HR roles and is co-author of Managing Human Resources Management, which has helped her stay in tune with HR trends and issues, she said.

“That’s probably a real valid concern for academics, that we do need to keep updated,” said Zinni.

Another company that did well at the HR Summit Awards was Pitney Bowes Canada. Sandra Cain, director of HR shared services, received the TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Corporate Governance award for having made a huge impact in building the credibility of the HR shared services team.

Her work has led to the effective governance of HR policies, procedures and systems and she has designed 15 workshops to train managers on the company’s HR transformation initiative.

“One initiative I am especially proud of is the development of an employee support centre wiki. In order to do so, our team added more than 500 questions, processes and answers to the site over the course of several months to improve call centre efficiency for our employees,” said Cain.

The movement of the payroll process in-house from an outsourced vendor was another program Cain was proud of.

“As Canadian project lead, I oversaw the transition, which enabled online pay statements, improved accuracy to 99 per cent and led to a savings of approximately US$130,000,” she said. “I was also involved in payroll legislation and government reconciliation and filings.”

Cain actually segued into a career in HR through her experience in payroll, having moved into a role with a large outsourcing company managing HR and payroll for various clients.

“To me, the best part of HR as a profession is the fact that it is a very broad field, which provides the flexibility to try on many roles from shared services to payroll and benefits,” she said.

And Guilherme Dias, director of strategic talent management at Pitney Bowes Canada, received the Export Development Canada Innovation in Employment Branding award. He has transformed the company’s brand by engaging external partners such as industry councils, associations, business schools, media and outreach organizations. Dias’ diversity work has also earned the firm an international award for excellence.

Watch video highlights

Human Resources Summit Awards acceptance speeches

Tune in to Canadian HR Reporter TV to view the acceptance speeches from all of the winners at the 2010 Human Resources Summit Awards.

To view the video, see article #7518 or visit our YouTube channel at

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