Kara Biles, CHRP: Rising Star 2011


By Raluca Manolache

Since winning the 2011 BC HRMA Rising Star Award, Kara Biles, CHRP has continued to epitomize the excellence for which she has been recognized.  Now, the HR coordinator at Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor), she carries with her an impressive array of skills from her HR work within the BC Public Service. Having left her learning and development career an e-learning specialist, she continues to evolve her professional experience while pursuing her dream of teaching HR in a post-secondary program at the College of New Caledonia.  Biles is also a Regional Advisory Council member volunteer of BC HRMA.

As a BC HRMA Rising Star Award winner, what do you consider as the most rewarding aspect of your HR career thus far?

At this point in my career, my goals gravitate around growing, giving back and making a difference. As part of this, my mission is to passionately serve the HR profession, contribute to causes and committees that I care deeply about in my community and continue to use my emergent knowledge to strengthen others. I’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful mentors who have helped grow my capabilities and strengths and I now strive to do the same for others. The personal rewards that are felt when you take the time to develop and teach others – and see them flourish – are truly astonishing. Knowing that I can positively impact people’s lives and make a difference in my organization’s success is the most rewarding experience and the reason why I’ve pursued an HR career.

As an e-learning specialist, how might HR be making more innovative use of technology?  What tools do you consider essential for the HR 3.0 toolkit?

It is so important for all HR professionals to understand that never before has a generation entered the workplace using technologies so far ahead of those adopted by its employer than it is today. We need to be able to appeal to, attract, interact, communicate and cater to all generations of employees, not just the older generations.

The fundamentals of HR are shifting gears to adopt more technology in the recruitment, selection, training, management and reporting of critical HR functions. Technology now makes it possible to obtain, use and integrate talent from around the world and connect with anyone, locally and globally to collaborate on documents, meetings and other HR related matters.

Many HR professionals are now using social media to attract, motivate, connect with, engage, develop, retain, and listen to employees. Newer generations, such as the Millennials, expect social networks, online forums and websites to facilitate their first contact with potential employers. Social media presents the greatest avenue available for establishing an organization as an employer of choice. We should be utilizing blogs, wikis, just in time learning and social networks. There is so much potential for human resources in technology and connecting with our current and future employees. The day may not be here yet, but the competent HR Professional is absolutely going to have to know how to use social media tools, or they’re going to be left behind.

How might those pursuing an HR career more purposefully convey the business impact of HR?

Many HR professionals have tried to answer this question with metrics, but metrics alone are insufficient if what is being measured is not well thought out. Strategically speaking, HR is becoming increasingly important from a competitive advantage perspective, especially in growing knowledge-based industries. We all know that our talent pools are shrinking and that organizations will need the best and brightest to survive. As the global economy continues to evolve, it’s necessary for HR professionals to understand a number of factors that affect organizations today and not just traditional HR practices.

Knowing and truly understanding the industry in which you work, grasping the impacts of globalization, technology, changing demographics and continuous improvement will all assist HR in conveying our impact on the business’ bottom line. It’s crucial for HR professionals to form effective relationships with supervisors and managers to truly understand our organization’s priorities and operations, and the impact these factors have upon the organization’s success. This knowledge then allows us to mold and align our HR practices, policies and procedures to drive the organization forward.

HR, just like every other business function, does have a need to measure and track key performance indicators. However, we need to remember that measurement itself will not help our organization. HR professionals must clearly define what is critical to the organization and measure what matters most to our executives to more purposefully convey the business impact of HR.

What are those challenges that have you most inspired about the future of HR?

I’ve been reading a lot of HR resources lately that focus on shrinking talent pools and changing demographics. Every study projects increased numbers of Millennials and decreasing Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, and Generation X, while at the same time, we are going to be experiencing a shriveling labour force. The challenge that companies will face focuses around a war for talent, and creating new strategies to deal with, communicate with, develop, motivate and engage the members of each generation. Understanding the generations will be critical to creating a workforce development plan for the coming years. HR professionals will also need to become creative with their recruitment strategies in order to develop untapped labour markets and partner with multicultural organizations. The increased focus on talent will make the HR function within organizations more integral to an organization’s future success and that challenge definitely inspires me.

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