Our HR Stories

At the heart of any business resides its people, and their interests are oftentimes represented by human resource management. For four human resource (HR) veterans in the public sector, the journey to senior HR professionals has certainly had its fair shares of ups and downs, but the reward of positively shaping the lives of their employees has been worth it.

“HR found me — sometimes when people say that you wonder what they mean, but it’s the truth,” says Dahlia Vanriel, manager, human resource management at Aeronautical Telecommunications Limited (AEROTEL). After completing her degree in management and accounts and working in various administrative roles, she would eventually make her way into HR where she recognised it was the perfect job for her. Vanriel has now served 11 years in her role at AEROTEL and looks forward to heading into the office each day.

A similar set of odds would clinch the fate of Davia Scott-Gray, the senior director for human resource management and development at the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. Scott-Gray also started out with a degree in accounts, but a placement in HR at the Ministry of Education would begin 23 years in the public sector, all of which have been served in an HR capacity.

Colleen Young Patterson, director for organisation development at Tax Administration Jamaica, has always had a passion for HR. She recalls frequently checking in with the then HR manager at her company to see if any jobs were available. Her efforts would not be for nought.

“I kept calling for a while, until one day I got bold and just went to the office. Again, nothing was available, but there was someone going on 10 days’ leave. I jumped at the opportunity for the experience. That was in 2004 and that’s how I got into HR!”

For Annette RM Osbourne, the path to HR was less clear cut. She initially started in health, studying to become a nurse, but a series of events would bring her to her first HR job at the Post and Telecommunications Department. Since then, Osbourne has risen through the ranks, earning respect from people at all levels. Now she is the senior director – human resource management and development at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (Civilians). To her, the winning formula for any future or practising HR professional is to have excellent interpersonal skills.

“It sounds cliché but if you don’t like people, if you’re moody, if you take everything personally, then don’t go into HR. You need empathy — it isn’t just about getting the job done, you need emotional intelligence because there are constant interactions. You need to have a love for people and a certain level of tolerance,”states Young Patterson.

Scott-Gray admits that working in a people-intensive occupation is not easy.

“You need to treat each person on their own merit. If you are able to do that and you have a heart for people, then go ahead. Once you are willing to learn and your heart is open for others, then by all means… It is a very rewarding profession and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Vanriel and Osbourne share the sentiments expressed by Scott-Gray and they all agree that making a difference to at least one person is enough motivation for getting through even the most dreaded tasks that HR professionals handle — like dealing with death in the organisation, conflict resolution and employees moving on.

Article by : The Jamaica Observer