Celebrating the HR Awards w/ Rising Star Helen Luketic, CPHR

Helen Luketic, CPHR
CPHR BC & Yukon
Rising Star 2008

Recognized by  CPHR BC & Yukon with the Rising Star award in 2008, Helen Luketic, CPHR is not only a strong proponent of the profession, but proof of the award’s impact. Perhaps it is best put in Helen’s own words:

For the past 17 years, my world has been about talent management. Actually, probably a lot longer than that—it was at my first job as a 15 year old that I thought “if only this company treated us fairly and acknowledged us as people with good ideas, feelings and family, they would probably make more money.”

I’m currently living the dream as the director of people operations administration at Mark Anthony Group Inc. With my razor-sharp team of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, we help make work lives easier and are recognized for adding value to the business, all while tasting the latest amazing wine, whisky or beer in our portfolio.

Looking back, what was your experience of the awards process and what do you recommend for those considering nomination?
The process was both exciting and nerve wracking. Preparing for the interview and the presentation (ed: since removed with a streamlined process), I sought guidance from trusted coworkers, including one who was previously a Rising Star finalist—Natalie Branco. My friends listened and critiqued my presentation countless times. In the end, my hands were still shaking as I stood in front of the audience, reading from my notes. Luckily, it looks like the judges saw beyond my nervousness.

So my recommendation is ask others for help, acknowledge how much their help means to you, and simply “do” you.

How did the experience of recognition affect your/others’ impressions of the HR profession’s impact?
I tended to downplay a lot of my work. I was early in my career and didn’t have exposure to the bigger picture or issues that faced other HR teams or organizations. The recognition gave me context that working with metrics, reporting and benchmarking was important and an acknowledgement that I was on the right track.

As with recognition programs in our own organizations, what we recognize is ultimately the behaviour that we want encourage in others, so this award is the profession’s way of saying to peers “we want to see more of this.”

What do you consider to be the hallmarks of a Rising Star/HR Professional of the Year?
What you do is as important as how you do it. I’m no role model but the hope is that beyond doing some amazing work, the recipient is someone who we can look up to for their integrity, humility, and work ethic. I admire those who work in service to others, strive to show their ego the door when it shows up, and ultimately chose this profession for the love of it and the value it brings.

An HR inspiration in the eyes of many, who was your first or most enduring role model or source of inspiration?
My role model and inspiration is my dad. In 1956 he arrived by boat as a refugee with little money, no English and no skills except his grade four education. His strength was physical labour and so he started building railroads and quickly became a supervisor. His construction career led to him building so much of what you see today in Vancouver. He sponsored his brothers, supported them as they got their start and supported the rest of the family that remained in Croatia (then under the Yugoslavian communist regime). He supported his own family in Canada, like me, to get an education and create a future for myself.

Minimal formal education, but one of the smartest guys I know. He just turned 80, is still working part-time and just asked me if I ordered him that case of wine he likes. He’s getting it and, lucky guy, I’m paying for it.

What is the ethos that drives your ongoing best efforts?
I want people working with me to have the experience that their work life was made better because of it.
I have a strong sense of justice and it’s important for me to not only to do right by people, but also the organization.

Have an HR star in your midst? Nominations for CPHR BC & Yukon’s 2019 Professional Awards are accepted until November 23, 2018. Learn more about the HR Professional of the Year and Rising Star awards and come celebrate. Come nominate today.

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