Talking Island Time w/ 2018 Rising Star Tierra Madani, CPHR candidate

Tierra Madani,
CPHR candidate,
CPHR BC & Yukon
Rising Star 2018

When the owner of Muskoka Brewery purchased Vancouver Island Brewing, a business that had changed little over the course of decades with a team of 35, the need for the unexplored role of human resources became clear, and Tierra Madani was the obvious choice. With trust, respect, and her finger on the pulse of the people and processes, Madani has since been named CPHR BC & Yukon’s 2018 Rising Star—and become the defacto on-site manager for VIB employees in need, a one-stop Ops/HR shop.

For Madani, the opportunity to embrace the full spectrum of HR responsibilities was a natural extension of both her education—with an undergraduate BComm in HR management and a college diploma in tourism management—and her innate people-first focus, which had developed in her UBC days as a student recruitment ambassador and later as a full-time recruiter for UBC’s Learning Exchange Program.

With a direct line to the owner of Muskoka Brewery and the success of her “Island Time” teambuilding, Madani has been recognized as a key leader within the business and a core component of the company’s future growth and success.

What attracted you to the HR originally and what is the most satisfying aspect of the profession to you now?
A great professor once told me a successful company manages two things really well: money and people. This simple formula resonated with me and I knew HR was where I would find my true calling as it satisfies my passion for managing teams and my entrepreneurial spirit. What I love most about this profession is the supportive nature of HR roles and how HR professionals can influence and play a key role in all aspects of a business.

How important a role does culture play in sustaining organizational success?
Culture is everything! It is increasingly important especially as Millennials develop into more senior and strategic roles within their organizations. Workplace culture is also increasingly being seen as a selling feature that can be the deciding factor for a top candidate choosing between job offers. To develop a winning culture and team, hire for the right fit (not just skill set), create opportunities for every decision to be made by a team (not just one person), and continue to empower your culture champions.

Your “Island Time” program taps directly into culture. What inspired it and what has it inspired in turn?
It started as a way to promote transparency and to improve internal communication during a time of great change for the company. Island Time is something the team looks forward to and is uniquely ours to “own.” We use it as a means of communicating not only company updates and financials, but as a way to connect in a more intimate setting and to involve all members of our team in our ongoing initiatives.

How do you define the ROI of HR?
My definition would be measured by the engagement level and the retention of your top performers. That is at least how I would define the result or “return” on investing in your employees. My HR goal is always to invest in creating an engaging environment where every team member is a true ambassador, influencer, and advocate of our brand and company. It all comes around full circle from there!

What advice do you have for other HR professionals seeking to show the ROI of HR as a business partner?
If you have to explain the ROI of HR, then you’re negotiating with the wrong team. Any great leader with a strong focus on people will call on you first, not the other way around. I believe it’s an innate skill to know how to manage, develop, and understand people, but one that can be built as well. HR advisors and managers provide invaluable insight into all moving parts of a business, not just labour. Work with your leaders and communicate that HR is not a one-person job, rather it is a function everyone’s role to support, manage and motivate your teams.

What do you see as the greatest opportunity/challenge for the HR profession in the coming year?
I think this will be the telling year for how creative and successful HR professionals and recruiters will be in order to attract and retain top talent. With low unemployment rates and a growing population of “serial job-hoppers,” our greatest challenge will be to attract and retain our superstars. There are so many creative ways in which HR professionals can be successful at this, so I’m looking forward to seeing some great innovation, especially in terms of employer and culture branding.

If you were not a Rising Star in the world of HR, what would you be doing?
I am incredibly passionate about the tourism and hospitality industry. This passion combined with my entrepreneurial spirit would have led me to pursue owning and operating my own boutique hotel and restaurant! Similarly, I love fitness and dancing, so I might just take my Zumba Instructor status to the next level and travel the world instructing!

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