Winner: HR Rising Star
Jacqueline Tran, 26, has a talent for sussing out complicated data problems that could pose real challenges (meaning tons of work for her and her colleagues) in her role as total rewards partner at Kinross Gold in Toronto.
For example, there was the corrective audit conducted on Kinross’s retirement plans.
“It started with a simple question an employee asked about their plan. Eventually, we looked more into and it triggered an issue,” she says.
In fact, Tran had spotted a major problem and then went about creating a process map to build corrections. That entailed reviewing every contribution made over four consecutive years in all four plan vehicles, and working with the Canada Revenue Agency, Financial Services Commission of Ontario and its vendor on next steps to ensure employees (current and former) received the funds they were entitled to.
Tran’s willingness to take on tough problems, dig deep into details and carry out thorough work to reduce administrative burden for others, along with her proactive, problem-solving nature, ability to build relationships, and volunteer work have been recognized as exemplary in the four years she’s been at Kinross, and are the reason why she was given the HR Rising Star award.
Tran says she discovered HR while taking business courses and decided it fit her bill of a career choice that offered a lot of different roles, as well as flexibility and a broad range of experience. She graduated from the bachelor of human resources management program at York University in Toronto in 2014, and by then had several work experiences under her belt, including United Parcel Service (UPS) Canada, Investors Group Financial Services, and OMERS.
“OMERS was where I got my first compensation internship and what eventually brought me to Kinross,” says Tran. “When (Kinross) gave me a permanent role in 2014, I was thrilled. I love the culture here and they’d been so accommodating while I was still in school.”
As it turns out, Tran had discovered her HR specialty passion, and during her last year of school, she worked part-time at Kinross doing analytics on its incentive program, along with compensation support. During that time, she contributed to the analytics and development of 15 key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure headcount, labour cost, and production globally.
While juggling schoolwork, Tran also carried out numerous volunteer HR-related activities at her school, including president of the Human Resources Student Association, vice-president of human resources at the National Finance Students Association, peer mentor in the mentorship program run by New College at York University, public relations representative at the New College Council, and also a general volunteer at the Daily Bread Food Bank.
Additionally, Tran was the York University student representative at the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) - West Toronto Chapter board of directors.
While Tran carried out numerous important activities for Kinross, she also studied to gain a Certificate in Management Reporting: Systems and Strategies from Cornell University through its eCornell platform in 2015.
A few the big initiatives she has led or been involved in over recent years include cleaning up Kinross’s data in its HRIS database in Canada to ensure its quality and accuracy going into the compensation planning cycle. Tran had spotted some errors and spent the time scrubbing all the data as often as possible.
“Keeping up data maintenance is so important, especially for year-end with planning and bonuses — you want to make sure it’s all accurate,” she says.
Tran is also implementing a survey management tool on-time and on-budget to save year-over-year costs.
“Our existing system was not the most functional and its cost was outrageous,” she says.
An RFP was held, and Kinross found a vendor that was ideal and moved over to a cloud-based management system. The implementation was rolled out in August, and completed successfully in October — just in time.
“The biggest challenge was making sure it could handle our requirements and conducting our due diligence,” says Tran.
Last year, Tran was given a secondment opportunity to move into the role of HR business partner at Kinross, which was a development assignment that allowed her to act as an advisor and main point of contact for leaders and employees at the Canadian head office.
“This was a great experience because I got to step into a HR generalist role,” says Tran, who loved meeting with managers directly to discuss their problems and develop HR solutions.
She took full advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate her ability to independently handle the people management agenda, interpret business needs, and implement solutions related to HR services such as employee relations, succession planning, compensation, talent reviews, recruitment, training delivery, relocation, immigration, and conflict resolutions.
Additionally, Tran was nominated to be a part of a project team involved in building a mergers and acquisition HR playbook for the company.
“I like being a business partner but I also like specialty work. The ideal for me is a combination of the two,” she says, adding that’s the case in her current role as Kinross regional lead for U.S. compensation programs (and support for global pension and benefit initiatives). Currently, Tran manages total rewards for one of the largest regions within Kinross, which consists of four mine sites and about 2,000 employees.
Tran has also continued with her volunteer work.
“When I first started volunteering, it was to gain experience, but now I really love it because I want to give back to the community, and because I really want to make a difference.”
That includes being: co-chair for the professional programs and networking committee under the professional development events portfolio with the HRPA Toronto Chapter; an events portfolio volunteer at the GTA Rewards Association; a local network association of WorldatWork in Toronto; becoming an article reviewer for WorldatWork to review content for their WorkSpan magazine; and a mentor to aspiring HR professionals at the HRPA Toronto Chapter.
And down the road?
“Eventually, I’d like to take on some kind of leadership role,” she says.