Partner at MP Ventures & Trusts
Nicole Parsons of Newfoundland has built a 20+ year career as a human resource professional. She specializes in labor relations and HR systems and deeply understands relevant employment and current labor issues. She was a member of the Steering Committee for Empowering Futures with Electricity HR Canada, and previously was an Executive Board member of the Petroleum Industry Human Resources Committee.
Parsons graduated with honors from the Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Commerce and was formerly a member of the Training & Qualifications Committee with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). She received her Harassment Investigation Level I & II, NL from Hill Advisory Services, and attended the Strategic Financial Skills executive education courses through Southern Methodist University.
Nicole Parsons has lived in Newfoundland throughout her life, and her career has allowed her to travel across Canada, the United States, Ireland, and other parts of Europe. She believes in connection and uses her voice to champion the causes of underserved populations and promote workplace equality.
Describe how you got into the field of human resources.
I grew up in a small family-owned business and early on in life, I enjoyed working in the office, doing the bookkeeping, reviewing financial statements, etc. When I started my degree in Commerce there were many possibilities for a concentration of studies. I chose Human Resource management! The first course to grab my attention was actually business law and then organizational behavior, labor laws, and negotiations were definitely areas that I found intriguing and exciting.
Where did your passion for human resources come from?
Passion is a strong word for me. I would say my passion has always been to succeed at something, to feel good about my efforts, to be humble, and to surround myself with kind and smart people. There’s a rush you get when you are negotiating a contract when you are analyzing human behaviors, and when you know, based on your proven experience and sound judgment (which takes years to develop), that actions you work on with others will truly make a difference in the workplace. Creating policies and honing practices that promote respect, equity, and inclusion became my biggest passion for me over time in my practice.
Why did you decide to join the Kids Eat Smart Foundation?
I am privileged and therefore my role in society is to give back and help others. Every child deserves the equal opportunity to learn in school however not every child has the “tools” for whatever reason to foster this healthy environment. Kids Eat Smart is an organization in my community, my Province, and my country where like-minded people believe in the potential to enable children that equal opportunity to learn by starting the day with nourishment in their little bellies. Sounds simple … but it’s not! If an ounce of my effort helps the combined efforts to put food in every school-age child, then I’m going to be there.
What does a typical day look like for you as an HR professional?
A day at work in HR is likely no different than a day in any other job. Coffee first. Always bring your friendly self to work and lead by example. Assess the goals for the day, the time you have, and the resources to do it. Sounds like a good plan. But in my experience, this well-laid plan is often side-tracked but the best of what we do in HR – we are part of a team where our expertise is needed frequently. While working hard on your own daily objectives, a typical day in HR brings a revolving door of counterparts or “customers” (managers/employees) into my office asking for my input, expertise, or straight-up advice on many of the complex and confidential matters that inevitably exist in every workplace.
What are some invaluable skills you have gained in your experience as an HR professional?
Communication – listening and speaking, body language, and timing. Project management – how to accomplish a plan (big or small) with time, resources and tasks. Empathy – there is no place for judgment and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, respect is shown when you can simply empathize with others.
What are the most important qualities/tenets of your business?
Trust. Accountability. Diligence. It takes time to build trust with others, but accountability and diligence can be demonstrated right away. Discuss objectives, provide details about what you do, and recognize when you need additional expertise to execute a plan prudently.
Name a necessary skill that is crucial to be successful as an HR professional.
The ability to be non-judgmental. In HR, you will surely find out very personal and confidential information about people, including their habits, their struggles, etc. While it’s imperative to stay in your lane (you’re an HR professional, not a social worker or psychologist) it’s important to remove any personal bias or opinion from the picture when you help to manage an employee issue. Everyone makes decisions or takes actions based on their own circumstances, it’s not for us to judge why or how. It’s for us to apply solid workplace practices and ethics to positively influence the work environment and align people’s expectations with acceptable behaviors.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Value the art of learning – read lots and talk with people about real-life topics. Take your health into your own hands from an early age – sleep, eat well, and move your body. I mean it! It takes little effort to be kind yet goes a long way in life – not just to others but to yourself as well.
What motivates you to continue doing what you do?
I want to continue to learn and exercise my brain. This is part of my wellness picture which thankfully allows me to enjoy working. Knowing that a little of my expertise and time can positively affect others is very important to me.
Find out more about Nicole Parsons at her LinkedIn.