Vice President, Human Resources & HR Operations
My family is from Greece who came from very humble beginnings. Herding sheep is how they earned their living and often had to make do with every single resource nature offered. I love listening to the stories from my parents and grandparents – how they were raised and what life was like in a northern village of Greece. I can only imagine the courage (in the face of fear) it took to come to Canada, full of hope of what could be possible.
My parents worked very hard and saved as much as they could to realize my Dad’s dream of owning a restaurant. I think working in that restaurant that I developed the mind for business that I have today. I recall my Dad telling me that it’s very important to understand everyone’s work and how it contributes to the customer’s experience. How each of us independently can make or break the experience whether it was the one washing the dishes or serving the food or greeting customers. Also during that time I gained my strong work ethic instilled in me by watching my parents and also understanding that the quality of the work is a representation of who I am.
I’ll try not to answer this in ‘HR speak’. I have stayed in Human Resources because I really do feel it’s meaningful work, with far-reaching implications, impacting the lives of our employees. I see HR as being a partner in making the workplace the best it can be for the time the employee chooses to be here. We achieve this through policies and programs, but it’s greater than that. It’s about making our leaders and managers the best they can be so, in turn they can lead and manage in a way that is consistent with our Values and bring out the best in everyone.
I have gone through a lot of change over the past several months, both at work and personally. On a personal front, my Mom has been given another chance at life and we are currently supporting her through medical treatments. I started my new job as Vice President a few months ago. Any new job is a big change and obviously I have a strong desire to do my best. I am also a mother of two and so it is a constant juggle of sports programs, school, homework and just being the best Mom possible. What propels me in the face of challenge is my strong will, but most importantly it is my strong foundation of faith, a very close family and dear friends who lift me up in times of need, and are there for laughter too!
I offer this advice not just to women but to anyone who is starting their career. First, if you choose a career just to chase the all-mighty dollar, you will forever be chasing. Second, don’t try to live someone else’s dream or expectations that they put upon you. Define your values and priorities and then find work that aligns to it. Lastly, remember the child inside of you – that believed, imagined and wasn’t constrained by ‘can’ts and shouldn’ts’.
I had athletic ambitions when I was younger, but my aspirations exceeded my talent. Tennis was my chosen sport and I still try to get out when I can. I’m a huge fan of soccer.
What is non-negotiable for me is exercise. It’s the source of my physical and mental strength; a regular routine of exercise is what supports my overall health. Aside from my time in the gym, sports overall is a big part of my life, whether it’s cheering my kids on in the stands or playing tennis, soccer or skiing.
My Grandma, who passed away nine years ago, who lived her life with courage and determination. While not formally educated, she had worldly smarts and wisdom, and taught me every day on any subject. She had such charisma! My Mom for her humility and generosity, and letting me know what unconditional love feels like. She is the most selfless person I have ever known. No matter what the day brought, the highs and lows of life, coming home to Mom is one of my warmest feelings. There isn’t anything that can’t be resolved over a cup of tea, a homemade cookie and a talk with my Mom. My daughter and my son, who remind me that miracles happen every day. The best part of my day is when they run to the door to welcome me home.
This is the quote that guides how I approach life: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This saying by Maya Angelou rings so true.