Global expansion makes for 'steep' learning curve around legislative requirements, cultural values, and talent bench strength
Every HR person has a different story for how they started their career.
For Natasha D’Cruze, it was as a lab technician — for 10 years.
“I then decided to go back to university, halfway through that. I knew that I wanted to go into a career where I had a bit more autonomy or... I could maybe have a little more control over my own path.”
As someone who’s “not super big on rules and following the crowd,” she admits it’s funny that she ended up in HR “because it's all about policy.”
But human resources made sense because D’Cruze — who is now global director of workforce development at iQmetrix, a telecom experience platform — is attracted to “big picture stuff” around people and the psychology of “what makes the workplace tick,” she says, such as culture.
“When I first got into business, that's where HR became a very easy discipline for me to choose.”
Big shifts for HR
Through her years in HR, D’Cruze says there have been two big shifts for the profession. For one, HR has become much more of a partner.
“HR departments, HR groups are starting to get a seat at the table, and businesses or organizational leads are starting to really understand the value of having HR at the table to proactively support with strategy and with organizational goal-setting, forecasting and things like that — versus traditionally when I first started in my career, HR were the go-top people when things were on fire, and just reactive all the time.”
Also notable? The language used around the profession, she says.
“There is a shift from it being ‘HR’ to being ‘people in culture.’ How we refer to the department as a whole and the work we do, and even the focus, so it’s not just… ‘People are a cog,’ it’s ‘We support people and we support organizational culture.’ And so I think there's a real beauty and a shift in that language too.”
The pandemic played a big part in that, says D’Cruze, who is based in Regina.
“The mindset had to stop being about just people and what they're accomplishing to people are the driving engine behind the success of any business. So how do we care about their well-being? How do we care about the environment that people are working in?”
Canadian HR Reporter also spoke recently with Lito Charet of Imperial Tobacco.
Highlights of career
One of the earlier highlights for D’Cruze was working at a non-profit in Calgary that supported homeless and vulnerable populations.
“That was a great place for me to start my career, because I think it really developed my muscle for empathy and for understanding that balance between people and business needs,” she says. “The work that the staff did there was really emotional and very challenging. And so as much as there's the operational need, of course, there's also that need to really see the people behind all of it.”
D’Cruze went on to work for a smaller packaged goods company that embraced a fun, innovative and creative culture.
“That was my first opportunity to work with a company that really cared about culture. And it was like the backbone of everything they did — it wasn't just about the product; it was actually about having a great culture where people can thrive and that's where your product success will then naturally come from.”
And in joining iQmetrix in 2021 — part of the Chrysalis “ecosystem” — D’Cruze says she’s come full-circle thanks to the 300-employee self-managed environment.
“It truly is about autonomy and agency, and so through that I’ve been able to step into my leadership in a way that, even some days, surprises me — you never really know what your capabilities are until you just try something and not be afraid to skin your knees and try things that are out of the box and fun, and feel really supported.”
In the fall of 2022, Canadian HR Reporter spoke with Iris Nikolic of Dexcom Canada.
Priorities for year ahead
After iQmetrix went global in 2022, acquiring a product that expanded its footprint into India, Germany, Ireland, and the UK, it was “quite challenging,” says D’Cruze, as it was a first for many at the organization (including herself) and required many stakeholders, both internally and externally.
“The learning curve was quite steep at times, especially when having to develop an understanding of each country’s legislative requirements, cultural values, and talent bench strength, all at once.”
But overall, “it was an incredible experience,” she says.
Looking ahead, D’Cruze continues to focus on talent and retention, so “really taking a look at how we can lean into things like leadership development, what are some of our foundational elements, just getting taking a deep dive at them, making sure that they are still things that are competitive and exciting, but also that we still feel are very authentic to who we are as a company.”
In addition, iQmetrix is doing a lot remote hiring, so it’s working to ensure employees’ experience is “super high” no matter their location, so they still feel really engaged and connected, says D’Cruze.
“Those cultural elements are so important to us.”
And the company’s efforts have paid off, with awards for being a top employer, including family-friendly offerings.
“In the history of this company, that's always been a key tenant of the culture,” she says. “It is very family first, so that people don't feel like they have to give up anything of their personal or their home life in order to be at work. It's always been about that flexibility and that autonomy.”