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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.

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