Rising Star 2019: Miranda Birkbeck, CPHR candidate, Shines a Light on Changing HR
Most recently celebrated as CPHR BC & Yukon’s Rising Star 2019 at this past April’s HR Conference + Tradeshow 2019, Miranda Birkbeck, CPHR has been regarded for her HR skill set since before graduating in 2017 and joining First West Credit Union (First West) in Kelowna. Having already served as an HR technology intern with the company in 2016, as well as competing twice in the HRC West competition and volunteering as a student administrator on the CPHR BC & Yukon’s Southern Interior Advisory Council, the onboarding was smooth and her impact immediate. Long before being promoted to the role of HR advisor in late 2018, Birkbeck had grown that investment of trust considerably and shown considerable ROI in the process.
Who or what is your original and/or ongoing HR inspiration?
I look for inspiration from trends and research outside of the standard HR community that can be applied to people operations internally. Specifically, I love to listen to podcasts about topics that pique my interest. My regular playlist includes Freakonomics Radio, Hidden Brain, Invisibilia, and Radio Lab.
Recently I was listening to a podcast on the subject of digital minimalism and it helped me reframe a productivity issue within a key department in our business and think of some creative ideas around the way we work with technology—and the impact of constant distraction of communication tools such as email and instant messenger. I feel strongly that an HR issue doesn’t always need an HR-only solution.
How do you perceive the impact of advancing technologies on the HR profession?
Technology is having a deep and profound impact on HR professionals and will continue to do so in my opinion. Not only is our own work changing, but the pace of technological advancement is changing the organizations we work in and creating opportunities and risks that we’ve never seen before. The required skillset of an HR professional is going to include more elements around business strategy, technical ability and understanding, and change management.
Personally, I’m excited about the administrative time-savings and enhanced delivery of service that HR technologies allow. Taking out the repetitive administrative tasks (having a technology tools such as an HCM do them) will allow professionals such as myself to focus on the design and development of an outstanding HR function. This is more and more important in the world where employees are your key differentiator. Being able to create personalized employee-centric experiences will also be an enhancement that employees expect and look for from their workplaces—with this being much more possible with technological advancements.
What does it take for HR to become a better business partner?
I feel like I am still learning this myself. The business partners I am learning from position themselves to understand the business at a basic level and ask many questions. I’ve learned that asking questions is an art and I will literally write down the good ones I hear to try to use in my own scenarios later on.
How can HR help create a more engaging employee experience?
Asking for employee feedback and then actioning the information that comes from it is key. From a customer perspective we expect our positive and negative feedback to shape the way companies do business and that expectation is being moved into the workplace. Lifecycle surveys done during onboarding or exit, as well as pulse checks, offer great insights into how employees are feeling and these can be done with simple online survey tools.
What wisdom might you offer to other “rising stars” considering HR as a profession?
HR is a broad profession with many functions and not just what some think of as just the “hiring and firing” profession. (I actually haven’t done much of either in my career at this point!) So don’t be afraid to explore, either through opportunities such as job shadows with many HR profession or, if you’re in the profession already, by trying to get exposure to other areas.
I am fortunate to have been given many opportunities early in my career to touch on various areas of HR including recruitment, learning, business HR and HR technology. This has given me the opportunity to say ‘yes, I like that,’ or ‘no, I don’t have a strength in this area.’ I believe this to be one of the reasons I have been honoured with this award—I was working on projects and in areas that inspired and engaged me, leading to passion and excitement in my role.
Also, embrace the change! HR is growing and becoming one of the most dynamic professions out there. Don’t be afraid to learn, fail and grow in the process.
Nominations for CPHR BC & Yukon’s 2020 Professional Awards are accepted until November 22, 2019. For more info and to nominate an HR leader, visit the CPHR website.
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