Kativik Ilisarniliriniq (KI) officially welcomed a new Director of Human Resources and Payroll (DHRP) in December 2021. What does it mean for KI and why does it matter? Potentially, for a lot of reasons. Read the full article to find out why.
To mark a true passing of the torch, we sat down with Samantha Doig, the new face of KI’s Human Resources (HR) Department. Needless to say, she made a strong impression during our discussion. By way of introduction, we could have talked about her background and experience*, but we prefer that you discover her personality and vision so you can grasp what this appointment means to her and to the organization.
Putting the human back into human resources
Given her new role within the school board, I won’t hide the fact that I was a little stressed while preparing for the interview. But all my worries quickly disappeared. “I always like to approach things with a smile because I think it immediately offsets any type of tension that there could be”, Samantha Doig confidently states. Spot-on: what started as an interview quickly turned into a friendly chat.
To avoid any confusion, Samantha actually started working in her new position in June 2021. In order to get acclimated to her new job, Samantha cut her maternity leave short and returned to work two days a week under the wing of Marcel Duplessis, the outgoing DHRP. According to Samantha, this transition turned out to be a very formative experience. Even though she’s officially DHRP now, Samantha remains humble:
Well, I just think there’s so much that I need to learn, and I mean, as does anybody in a new position. […] But anytime I have questions, my fellow directors have been supportive. […] And my team is fantastic so there’s not really anything I could ask for more.
Among the many challenges she faces, there is one that comes up constantly throughout our conversation. To paraphrase her: how can HR become a more helpful and supportive department? “That’s a huge challenge, and that comes with a large number of steps”, she explains.
For starters, Samantha has put her focus on the labour relations side of HR. She wants to improve the service “so that HR is deemed a help”, which, as she puts it, implies “a more empathetic and compassionate approach”.
“I also think, being a young mom, I understand the realities and challenges of the work-life balance because I’m living it. I’m not so far removed from when my kids were little that I forget that yes, there’s daycare germs. And yes, the kids are sick every other day, and yes, there has to be some level of understanding and compassion also, and I won’t blame you if your kids are sick. So, like, I don’t ever want one of my employees to feel uncomfortable asking me for time off or for help or to wave a flag that says I’m totally burning out”.
This sensitivity explains her HR service approach which leans towards community outreach: “It’s literally a switch. We are asking ourselves how can we connect with our staff. How do we reach them and how do they want to be reached?”.
I really want to focus on being an Inuit school board serving Inuit people. […] So, whether it is in Montreal or in the North, I want employees to ask their questions and I want us to reach out to them to be sure no question remains unanswered.
“I want them to know that I have their interests at heart, and it’s not just in my heart, but it’s top of mind, it’s on my board at work. I’d like to improve the services we offer so that employees don’t have to worry about the little things.”
Interviewer: The switch you’re referring to regarding labour relations… it feels much more humanistic to me, and at the same time really, almost grounded?
Samantha Doig: It’s funny that you say that because my slogan in all of this is that I want “to put the human back into human resources!”
Looking back at the changes that have taken place within KI and seeing how passionate she is, we feel that there’s a lot more to come:
I want to be brave enough to try new things. I want to be open-minded, and I want people to come to me and say, “Sam, I have this crazy idea. What if we do this?” and I say, “OK, yes, it’s kind of crazy, but let’s look into it and see if there’s something we can do”
After a brief exchange, anyone would describe Samantha as someone friendly, helpful, and hardworking. One thing is certain, once you discover her positive energy and enthusiasm, you will also want to be part of the changes she is aiming for.
It was a pleasure to meet you, Sam. Now, we are all eagerly waiting to see what’s to come.
* Samantha is an Inuk JBNQA beneficiary and has been working for Kativik Ilisarniliriniq since 2015. She was initially hired as an HR coordinator. As the only coordinator at the time, she was responsible for all regional recruitment (for support staff, professionals, non-executive managers and teachers). After four years, she became Assistant Director of HR and was responsible for all recruitment files. Since then, the department has grown substantially.
Before KI, Samantha Doig was working at Raglan Mine (between Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq). She was part of a team responsible for Inuit recruitment in all the communities for two years: “I made sure that we had a good Inuit population at the mine”.