'That's where the magic happens'

HR leader profile: Joey Walters of Schneider Electric Canada discusses importance of focusing on people and business

'That's where the magic happens'

Joey Walters has always been passionate both about helping to develop people so they reach their full potential, and passionate about business. So, for him, HR just made sense as a career.

“HR gives me the opportunity to come in and work on programs and work on engagement and culture and build up the people inside the business and create culture and, at the same time,  focus on growing businesses through people,” says the VP of human resources at Schneider Electric Canada.

“And I get to live it every single day. And I love every minute of it.”

After many years in HR, the profession has definitely met his expectations as a career, says Walters.

“With everything ever-changing and evolving, it's always something that you're constantly learning and really focusing on, creating a people-centric culture that drives the business and creates impact not only in our employees’ lives but also in our customers and outside.”

HR roles at Carrier, Ingersoll Rand

Before joining Schneider in April 2024, Walters held the same title at Carrier Enterprise Canada for over a decade; he has also worked at BroadGrain Commodities, Ingersoll Rand and Ameresco Canada.

“I helped lead some transformation HR initiatives that really focused on employee engagement and employee retention, and, obviously, business performance and growth. And some of those were focused around talent acquisition and talent retention, and… certain frameworks and programs that would align with where our businesses were going.”

It was also about listening to understand both customers and employees, to see where changes to programs could lead to improvements, he says.

“I’m excited to say that we achieved some great initiatives and got some great results over a period of time, where people were able to go and develop and move internally within the organization, have very high engagement scores, and then, ultimately, take care of our customers and grow the businesses.”

HR leadership at Schneider Electric Canada

That focus on customers is one of the reasons why Walters joined Schneider Electric Canada, succeeding Claire Guichard, who assumed the role of VP, HR commercial & segments, strategy and central finance, industrial automation.

“Definitely, from an HR business perspective, that's really what sets HR apart is that if you can really focus on the people and focus on the business and marry that together and create programs to help grow the business, that's where the magic happens,” he says.

The company — which has roughly 2,500 employees in Canada — has a strong focus on sustainability, which also appealed to the new VP of HR.

“Schneider’s commitment to sustainability and digital transformation, and really trying to reduce the carbon footprint in Canada and across the world, related to both my values professionally and personally,” says Walters.

The company also prioritizes a one team approach, he says, citing new “IMPACT” values meant to enhance the employee experience, develop leadership and boost overall performance. These include “inclusiveness,” “mastery” of skills, “purpose,” “action,” “curiosity” and “teamwork.”

“Overall, we're committed to creating a high-performing, engaged workforce that really drives our business, and [embraces] our values, which is integrity, sustainability and inclusiveness.”

Attracting, retaining, developing talent

As an energy management company, Schneider Electric Canada is like many others in facing the challenge of talent acquisition and talent retention, says Walters, citing the competitive labour market.

“That's why we've put together these principles, the one team approach and our IMPACT values, really focusing on bringing in the right people that match that.”

But it’s also important to be developing current people internally, he says.

“We're really focusing on developing and moving people within our organization; I think, here at Schneider, we do a fantastic job [with that]… I have been so happy to see how people move within the organization and can have a career and have stayed in the organization for a very long time… not only within Canada, but across the organization, across the world.”

Digital transformation at Schneider Electric Canada

HR at the company is also related to digital transformation from a people perspective, says Walters. As part of that, the company is definitely looking at artificial intelligence (AI) — as a tool.

“We believe that the human experience is still front and center. And so we're using AI as a digital enhancement tool, and how we can create more streamlined processes, make things more efficient and effective, and then really upskill our organization to match that,” he says.

“But we're still focused on the human connection, because we think that a culture that has great people will really set us apart.”

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