This award recognizes exemplary HR professionals who contribute by improving their organization’s bottom line, achieving business results, developing innovative and sustainable programs, as well as demonstrating leadership and commitment to the HR Profession.
Get to know the three finalists for the 2019 Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year, sponsored by ADP.
Michelle Lewis, CPHR
Director, Human Resources
New Westminster, BC
Since joining TransLink in 2014, Michelle Lewis, CPHR, director of human resources, not only has the wheels within turning more smoothly—she has hardwired the organization for excellence.
A respected and innovative senior leader, Lewis is credited with nothing less than shifting the core human resources culture of TransLink, boosting efficiency and morale, and engaging and empowering employees through her own championing of Quint Studers’ “Hardwiring for Excellence” principles and the LEAN methodology—whereby employees who are closest to the work streamline process and practice from a client perspective to ensure client value solutions in the workplace.
Solutions-oriented and client-focused, Lewis’ ability to align, listen, engage and act have gained her praise at all levels of TransLink—with over 7,500 employees spread over 14 offices. Beginning with her immediate 44-person team, Lewis had soon influenced the adoption of the “Hardwiring for Excellence” principles throughout the entire 76-person HR department, including senior leadership. What this has resulted in within the Total Compensation and Payroll Services Portfolio is an unparalleled unity of mission, vision and client service standards in a previously fragmented landscape. This in turn has created a more accountable and responsive HR team, with engagement scores in Lewis’ departments rising from 56 per cent in 2014 to 78 per cent in 2017—and 100 per cent client satisfaction for her departments in 2017 and 2018.
Lewis’ passionate promotion of “Hardwiring for Excellence” is combined with a business acumen honed by over 20 years HR experience. As such, it was with a firm understanding of the need to build ongoing arteries of input and shareholder support that Lewis created several initiatives, including a Director Focus Group—brought together to discuss HR issues—and has since been invited to join and involved with TransLink’s “Customer First Committee (CFC)” and TransLink’s first Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
Through the CFC, Lewis has spearheaded the “Employee’s Bright Ideas” program, an open invitation to TransLink employees at all levels to provide input aimed at organizational improvement—with over 60 ideas coming forward for consideration thus far.
As a grass roots leader, she has also been the driving force behind bringing the LEAN methodology to TransLink. And while LEAN ultimately makes work easier for everyone, the effort Lewis committed to the review process might have stymied any but the most determined—with the extensive review of the Transit Trust’s Health and Dental Short and Long Term Disability process alone taking over three years and 100 stakeholders to complete. For TransLink and Lewis alike, the results—over 100 process improvements—are worth it every day moving forward.
Lewis has since had ample opportunity to put LEAN to work, reviewing and revising 20-year-old HR processes and strategy, while working towards bringing the Disability Management Process and Compensation Philosophy and Strategic Plan up to light speed in the process. Naturally, she was also a key sponsor of LEAN methodology within HR, developing TransLink’s first pilot team to utilize an Employee Huddle Board.
With the aim to engage, she has also developed an overarching Recognition Strategic Plan and is currently launching TransLink’s first MyQudos Platform that will enable managers to provide on the spot recognition to their employees—a direct action coming out of the 2017 TransLink’s Engagement Survey. Lewis is also in the process of developing an HR analytics program that will allow TransLink to access micro-level data to better drive business strategy and decision-making.
What makes all of the research, innovation and implementation above more admirable is that Lewis has achieved it in the face of significant challenges inherent to any large, bureaucratic organization with ingrained practices and culture. This stems directly from her innate skills as a leader, a catalyst and a collaborator alike, all of which has enabled her to build trusting and genuine relationships with people at all levels of the organizations.
As a dedicated and engaged HR professional, she also is the trust secretary for TransLink’s health and benefit trust, member of the Client Advisory Councils for Pacific Blue Cross, Great West Life and SunLife, and has been a guest speaker at the HR Leader’s Summit. Lewis is a lifelong learner whose achievements include earning a Life License as well as CPHR, CCP, GRP and SHRM designations.
Deborah Maynard, CPHR
Director, HR and Volunteer Engagement
Coast Mental Health
In the two years since Deborah Maynard, CPHR joined Coast Mental Health as director of HR and volunteer engagement, she has brought a lifetime of experience to bear and delivered both quantitative results and no small peace of mind.
As a charitable organization providing a range of services to over 4,500 people with mental illnesses and addictions in 45 sites across B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Coast Mental Health gained a powerful ally in Maynard at a unique time. With multiple new programs in development, other programs dealing increasingly complex issues including the fentanyl crisis and, most pressingly, the majority of the past HR department outbound, Maynard rose to the occasion with unsurpassed professionalism—changing the perception of HR at Coast Mental Health in the process.
Among the very first of the challenges she rose to was the hiring of 224 new staff to cover program growth and attrition. Not only did she and her small four-person team rise to the critical challenge, but the time-to-hire was cut dramatically from 50 to 20 days.
During this key period of hiring and onboarding, Maynard redefined the role of the HR department at Coast Mental Health’s as a critical resource for the operating divisions within the society. This marked a fundamental shift in the organization. She helped further develop a talent management approach within the organization by introducing a simple nine-box tool to identify high-potential individuals moving forward and creating a succession planning tool.
One of Maynard’s most significant achievements has been helping Coast Mental health upgrade its status under the Public Sector Employer’s Council classification system, while also spearheading the organization’s acceleration towards fair, comparable wages. Previously a significant pain point—with excluded staff under a complete or partial freeze since 2009—Maynard redressed the imbalance in the wage grids, and has since found great candidates in senior recruitment efforts.
Guided by principle and best practices alike, Maynard has also been a strong proponent of supporting the ongoing pursuit of leadership excellence in others through teaching, coaching and mentoring future, developing managers and seasoned HR professionals alike. For example, she made a request to Canada Job Grants to get majority funding to send 10 managers forward for development training—a savings of over $15,000—and also invested in respectful workplace training, together with an up skilling of the HR department. In house, she ran a series of lunch and learns on key HR topics to standardize knowledge levels of unionized supervisors and management—and learned a great deal in return.
This spurred a change in workplace culture that has been appreciated on several levels—from a 2 per cent reduction in turnover to a four per cent jump in engagement and over a 100 per cent increase in attendance for lunch-and-learns. In addition, in the past year, performance review completions hit 100 per cent for non-contract and 90 per cent for bargaining unit reviews. Perhaps most notably, absenteeism has been reduced from 12.5 to 9.6 days per employee—amounting to a savings of more than $211,000.
Much of the above can be attributed to Maynard’s professional acumen and ability to translate stakeholder input into actionable change, but it is as a driver of positive change that she is best recognized at Coast Mental Health.
From digitally upgrading the casual call-out system to stimulate immediacy, engagement and effectiveness with a potential savings of over $10,000 from the prior manual system to accelerating overall business performance by linking pay to fully-tiered corporate, team and individual goals with quarterly progress reporting, her impact has bettered the greater body of Coast Mental Health—and client satisfaction has grown by 5 per cent as a result.
Unequivocally, Maynard has been instrumental in building resilient and strong teams to meet the growth and change management needs of the organization as it continues to stretch and grow.
As driven to continue to her own learning as to share her wisdoms, Maynard has also gone well beyond the “get to know your business” level of diligence, taking ongoing courses, and working at some of Coast’s locations to better understand the complex issues experienced by staff and clients. A lifelong learner, growing alongside her CPHR, MBA and SHRM-SCP designations, she also continues to mentor her team, facilitate learning experiences for HR students, mentors other HR professionals and participates in non-profit roundtables.
Sheri Hamilton, CPHR
Associate Vice President, Human Resources
Salmon Arm, BC
For over 20 years, Sheri Hamilton has been growing the net worth of HR as a passionate proponent of people practices and as a key business driver at the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) since 1998.
Grounded in community, SASCU was formed in 1946 by a group of orchard farmers who were unable to secure traditional bank financing, and has been a core financial fixture in the Shuswap region since—now with five established branches and 150 employees.
A strong community supporter herself, Hamilton first joined SASCU as a junior manager and progressed to where she has been a key member of the executive management team for the past seven years. Reporting directly to the CEO as associate vice-president of HR, her contributions to the businesses’ growth over the past three years have been substantial.
Serving as project manager on a critical initiative, Hamilton rose to the challenge of leading the transition of SASCU’s member-facing sales staff from specialists to generalists to provide better member service and improve efficiencies. She led the project team in delivering a full-suite training program, including exam prep and new accreditation, all over period of 11 months. Not only was this five months ahead of schedule, but Hamilton’s change and project management expertise showed immediate results: minimal turnover, high engagement scores, and, most importantly, employee confidence in their new roles and skills, along with improved business performance.
Hamilton led the HR stream of a similarly organization-wide project by transforming the traditional switchboard roles into contact centre agents able to handle a wider variety of calls. Upskilling from within while improving service to SASCU’s members, her project management, communication and change management skills have improved the experience for internal and external clients alike. With calls centralized from two branches and extended contact centre hours, the positive impact continues in terms of service, opportunities and growth.
A committed lifelong learner and ardent proponent and mentor of HR, it is interesting to note just how far outside the HR circle Hamilton’s expertise and aptitude extends.
Case in point, Hamilton is currently co-leading a project to update the member experience by digitizing the credit union’s processes and, most notably, adding electronic signatures to boost both the efficiency and experience. Highly effective, this project’s goal is to cut process time significantly, and marked both Hamilton and SASCU alike as innovators—with only a few credit unions in B.C. digitizing processes and including the e-signature component.
Even more historically, in July 2018, when SASCU acquired a new business—a first for the credit union—Hamilton led the people side of the transition: determining risk and mitigation strategies, identifying HR and benefit issues and standing by a very people-centric approach to onboarding. Making a strong case for keeping people first in mind, she gained acceptance from the executive team to conduct a cultural assessment prior to the closing date of the acquisition. As a result of the findings, SASCU went on to successfully transition and onboard employees from the acquisition—doubling the staff and revenues of their Insurance division.
And while 2018 might have been a hallmark year, Hamilton has long been regarded for her versatility, capability and dedication to the HR profession, both within SASCU and with the broader community. Actively developing and mentoring her own team, she also supports emerging HR professionals, whether that be by providing job shadowing for several UBC Okanagan HR students or taking on BCIT student teams working on their final term industry HR consulting projects.
Hamilton has also chaired the Okanagan College Regional Advisory Committee for the past six years and most recently joined the board of the Okanagan College Foundation—all in the name of growing and showing support for future talent.
The 2019 Award of Excellence – HR Professional of the Year is proudly sponsored by:
Learn more about CPHR BC & Yukon’s Professional Awards