Jane Watson has more than 10 years of generalist HR experience gained in private, public sector and non-profit organizations. Currently she is a Sr. Human Resources Business Partner at the Ontario Securities Commission in downtown Toronto. Jane also chairs the HRPA Toronto Chapter’s Mentorship Program Committee, and blogs about HR, organizational culture and the future of work at TalentVanguard.com. Her views shared here are personal and are not intended to represent the views of her employer.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
Well, I always tell people that I’ve never worked in the same industry twice (which is true), and I think that the variety of types of organizations I’ve worked in has made me adaptable, and given me a more varied ‘HR toolbox’ to draw on when approaching workplace challenges. I’ve been in generalist roles for over 10 years, and again, that breadth makes me flexible. As for training, I have a degree in Anthropology and an HR Management diploma, as well as my CHRP designation. My Anthro degree has been great at providing perspective on organizational culture (which I get on my blog soapbox to rant about regularly), and developed my writing skills, which are tremendously important when communicating with an Executive audience in a credible and professional manner.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
Oh, I’m never satisfied with what I know, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to explore all the subjects of interest to me. When I joined the organization I work for just over a year ago (which regulates capital markets in the province of Ontario), I didn’t know much about the mechanics of capital markets and the unique challenges that regulatory organizations face; it was a very steep learning curve. 14 month later, I know a lot more, but recognize there is still so much more to learn about my organization and the sector in which it operates. It’s an ongoing process, but luckily a very interesting one. I would also say that additional wisdom to address complex people situations would always be helpful, but unfortunately that mostly has to be earned through trial and error (although the great mentors I have in my life help).
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
I think that ambiguity almost always exists in roles that deal primarily with people, so yes, having a degree of comfort with that is definitely essential to my job. Given that it is a highly professional environment strong communication skills are essential also. When I provide advice to senior people within my organization I must be able to do so in a way that inspires confidence and conveys the appropriate professionalism.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
Hmmm. Probably an Improver, with a dash of Thinker thrown in? I’m not sure I agree with Mr Adler on this…
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
My current role does not involve direct supervision of people, although I rely heavily on specialists on my team to support my internal clients fully (recruitment, payroll, benefits etc). It’s a very collaborative environment. I have had direct reports in a few previous roles, and that comes with both challenges and advantages. At the moment I am enjoying being a member of a team, rather than leading one.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
I provide support and guidance to leaders of particular groups within my organization, with the goals of promoting consistent and exceptional people practices, a great employee experience, mitigation of legal risk, and building people management capacity. Doing my job well assists those leading parts of my organization to hire, retain, and motivate the best and brightest to achieve our mandate to foster fair and efficient capital markets, as well as confidence in those markets, and the protection of investors. Not doing my job well could result in impaired employee/manager relationships, inconsistent application of practices and policies that could lead to demoralized employees, decreased productivity and increased turnover, and potentially situations that present a legal risk to the organization.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
It’s very safe – certainly a 1. I spend most of time in my office, or in meetings with others. Occasionally I visit local campuses because I coordinate our student outreach and hiring, which I really enjoy. Our building is attached to a major downtown shopping mall though, which is not safe for my personal budget…
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
That I love it! I feel incredibly fortunate to be at this stage of my career, working as a senior individual contributor with incredibly bright, talented people who believe their work has meaning and want to get it right. So often I hear people complain about their demoralizing jobs, and I am truly grateful to never, ever feel that way.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.