HR LeadersTalk with Barbara Meens Thistle, CPHR: Champions ROI of Lifelong Learning

By Drew Railton, CPHR
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. 

Named CPHR BC & Yukon’s HR Professional of the Year in 2016, Barbara Meens Thistle, CPHR served as VP of HR and corporate services for ICBC for a number of years before moving to UBC as VP of HR in 2018. At UBC there are about 16,000 faculty and staff, about 22,000 counting student employees. She has a central HR team of 70 including labour relations, faculty relations, total rewards, well-being, organizational development, professional and leadership development, employee experience surveys, pension, benefits, housing and relocation assistance for faculty and staff, as well as shared accountability for sexual violence and prevention response and investigations (shared with the VP of students).

Meens-Thistle also shares responsibility for equity, diversity and inclusion, and is one of the executive sponsors for integrated renewal program which is a transition to work day system for HR, finance and students. Another 70 practitioners in the HR network which she has indirect responsibility for, include senior HR professionals in the faculties that report into the Faculty senior leadership team and/or have responsibility for faculty and staff recruiting, performance management, HR delivery programs etc.

Why did you choose HR or how did it choose you?
My dad was in HR his whole career, so early in life I learned a lot about his work and the nature of HR. I started in HR when I first moved to Vancouver in 1991 as a temporary secretary working for the VP of HR at VanCity and I went from there.

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