Mentorship Matters: Meet Shelley Carlson, CPHR and Slavka Schiavio


Mentorship matters on all sides of the equation. With more than 475 CPHR BC & Yukon members involved in the Professional Mentorship Program (PMP), the experience is deemed invaluable to mentors and protégés alike. With application for the program happening August to Mid-September, CPHR BC & Yukon’s PMP runs October through June with check-ins along the way.

One of the many success stories from the PMP is the mentor/protégé relationship Shelley Carlson, CPHR and Slavka Schiavio share below. 

Protégé Spotlight: Slavka Schiavio

Slavka is the executive assistant at AML Oceanographic, where she provides HR generalist expertise to her ever growing team of 45 people, as well as assisting and enabling the CEO to focus on difference-makers. In addition to an Advanced Diploma in HR Management from Camosun College, Slavka possesses a Diploma in International Business from Slovakia, and two Business Administration Diplomas from Camosun College. Slavka’s passion for HR shines through her aspiration to enhance the employee experience. She enjoys creating a positive and engaging work environment for co-workers at all levels within AML (at both ends of Canada). As a member of CPHR, Slavka continues to learn and grow working with a mentor.  

Who or what served as your earliest inspiration in pursuing a career in HR?

 I was fortunate enough to be going through the Tourism Management program at Camosun just before the 2010 Olympics, which was also before the stock market crashed. Our instructors, as well as John Furlong and the Olympic Committee put a great deal of emphasis on the fact that people skills will be crucial. At that time, I realized that I wanted to focus my efforts on HR and help people find their dream careers.

What inspires you most about the HR profession?

It’s the people. I very much enjoy helping others. As somebody in an HR role, I can make a difference by helping people to do what they love. I can also help to enhance the employee experience and help create positive and engaging work environment for co-workers at all levels within our organization (at both ends of Canada). I also find the role challenging, which I LOVE!, as not a single day is the same

Why did you choose to become a protégé in the CPHR BC & Yukon Professional Mentoring Program?

When I was at Camosun taking HR Management courses, I wanted to dig deeper into some aspects and school’s tight schedule simply did not allow for that. I found out about the program early on, and I was able to take an advantage of having a mentor while being very new in HR. This allowed me to meet new people in the HR community, and also learn a great deal about HR topics we did not cover in classes.

What has been the greatest satisfaction of being a protégé? How has it changed your career perceptions?

Through the Mentoring Program, I have the pleasure of working with amazing mentors who give selflessly. My current mentor, Shelley, had worked in a role very similar to mine –  building HR from the ground up. She is willing to not only answer my endless questions, but share what she has done. I love being able to bounce ideas off of her and love that she challenges me. Even though our organizations are so very different, both of our organizations have put enormous amount of efforts into culture. Being able to talk about that with somebody who has worked with the same coach is priceless for me.

What is the most important aspect of the mentor/protégé relationship?

I believe that clear communication and trust is important. I believe without trust, you cannot share as much and therefore miss out on important conversations. I can trust Shelley, not only when sharing information, but also if we agree to complete a task prior to meeting, I know she is always ready to rock!

What level of time commitment is involved with being a mentor in the CPHR BC& Yukon Mentoring Program?

Shelley and I attend some events together, but we also meet regularly. We meet at least once a month for at least an hour.

What does the CPHR designation mean to you?

CPHR designation means that the individual is recognized nationally for continuous learning and is up to speed on current affairs, laws, threats to the HR industry etc. The CPHR designation also means to me that the individual is involved in the HR community at a local level and has a large group of individuals that she/he can lean on, should the need arise. Especially here on Vancouver Island, the HR community seems to be closely knit and I find it energizing! 

Mentor Spotlight: Shelley Carlson, CPHR, SHRM-SCP

Shelley, has over 20 years of diverse operations and human resource management experience. Since 2003, Shelley has filled a variety of roles for Seastar Chemicals (part of Avantor), including her current role as Human Resources Manager. During this time, Shelley has built the Human Resource function from the ground-up and gained several years’ experience in international HR, specifically in Canada, the US and Europe. Shelley enjoys learning, working with her protégé and attending networking events with CPHR BC &Yukon.

What inspires you most about the HR profession?

Being of service and having an impact are huge for me. As HR professionals, we are well-positioned to help develop the people around us, improve the business decisions they make, and make a positive impact on the bottom line. Ultimately, we can improve the organization as a whole. And I love the fact that no two days are ever the same!

Who or what served as your earliest inspiration in pursuing a career in HR?

The CEO of our company convinced me to move into HR. I came from the operations-side of the business, and now I believe this experience has been the key to my success. I feel it is very important that HR professionals understand business – from how to read a balance sheet, to understanding the key drivers and threats to their industry. Because I understand all facets of our particular business, I can be both strategic and practical when faced with addressing challenges and finding solutions.

What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?

Don’t be silent! Speak up at each and every meeting. HR is not just a support function – it is (or can be) one of the key drivers of the organization.

What has been the greatest satisfaction of being a mentor? How has serving as a mentor changed your own career perceptions?

I can remember what it felt like to be in their shoes! I am humbled that someone is interested enough to listen to my story; to learn from my experiences; and to take that knowledge back to their own organization and thrive. I am learning so much from my protégé, and I find this relationship very energizing!

What is the most important aspect of the mentor/protégé relationship?

Both parties need to be completely open and honest. We need to be able to provide context around our problems/issues. We must be able to trust each other – to share data, metrics, goals, or other information that will help in the learning process.

What level of time commitment is involved with being a mentor in the CPHR BC& Yukon Mentoring Program?

Personally, we meet a minimum of once/month for about an hour. In a year, we will spend about 12 hours together. We also attend local HR functions such as Roundtables and mingles.

What does the CPHR designation mean to you?

The CPHR designation increases my marketability. It demonstrates that I have met the standards of a professional practice. Having the CPHR designation proves that I engage within my HR community, keep current on HR trends/information and also invest in continuous learning.

Read more mentorship stories:

For more information on CPHR BC & Yukon’s Professional Mentoring Program visit our website.

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