HR LeadersTalk: CHRO Todd Wohler on Engineering Career Resilience

By Drew Railton
Drew Railton, CPHR is a managing partner in our Western Canada offices. He has an ongoing interview series in PeopleTalk, the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon’s quarterly magazine. 

Todd Wohler, CPHR is the chief human resources officer with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers—a global leader in asset management and disposition and the world’s largest industrial auctioneer. A public company headquartered in Vancouver, they have 1500+ employees globally with more than 45 permanent auction sites in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Why did you choose HR or how did it choose you?
In a way I chose it, but I had an opportunity to taste HR early in my career. I am a mechanical engineer who was recruited by Schlumberger off campus at Virginia Tech in the United States. While I started as a field engineer and enjoyed the technical field work, I didn’t intend to be a field engineer for life because the lifestyle is very demanding and not well-suited to having a family life. I worked on call and would travel to remote rigs in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, working as long as 70 hours straight.

In my first promotion, I had the opportunity to be a campus recruiter. This was my first taste of HR and I did this for three years, during which time Schlumberger supported me in my MBA. Then I moved into internal audit in the finance function for a couple of years, but my next role was training focused on the engineers that we had been recruiting. During this time I learned how important the people component was—especially in a technical service business—and I approached my boss with a desire to build a career in HR.

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