Name: Barbara Lipton
Years of Experience: 23 years as a professor at Seneca College, 12 years of HR work experience
Occupation: Professor, Human Resources Management Programs at Seneca College
Q How did you get started in your field?
A After graduating with a sociology/psychology degree from the University of Western Ontario, I applied for a contract position as a research assistant in the sociology department at the University of Toronto. From there, I was given an opportunity to work in the human resources department in the recruitment and selection area. Over the years, I held a number of jobs in human resources ranging from a Compensation Analyst, Trainer, and a Generalist for large organizations.
Q Describe the ideal qualities a person should have to succeed in your industry.
A The person should be able to demonstrate the following: Leadership, interpersonal and communication (both verbal, written, listening) skills, as well as decision-making, teamwork, conflict management and computer/ technical skills. They should also demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, a positive attitude, willingness to learn, confidence, initiative and independence.
Q What kind of background best suits someone starting out in your industry?
A I recommend a university degree in either the arts or social sciences followed by a college diploma in human resources management. It would be helpful to have some experience in human resources whether it is through a co-op work term, internship program or volunteer work.
Q What are the most challenging aspects of your industry?
A There is constant change, high standards in a busy environment, keeping costs to the minimum and accountability of work.
Q What do you like most about your job?
A Every day is different. There is a variety of duties and responsibilities, an ability to exercise leadership and influence others, and being able to make a difference in an organization.
Q For newcomers to the industry, what tips would you offer them on getting started?
A You should be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Know how to overcome your weaknesses through training and development. Find a mentor/coach to guide you through your career and exercise enthusiasm, initiative, and be a self-starter.
Q What kind of local associations/organizations/volunteer activities would you recommend for people just starting out?
A I recommend joining the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario, and volunteering in a HR department, either as a generalist or a specialist. Keep current by reading journals and magazines such as the HR Reporter and HR Professional.