HR in the hot seat: Amanda Little of Fibernetics

Amanda talks to HRD about the telecommunications company’s award-winning workplace culture

HR in the hot seat: Amanda Little of Fibernetics
Photo credit: Cari Hill

As head of human culture at Fibernetics, Amanda Little has been the driving force behind the telecommunications service provider’s award-winning workplace culture.

With its emphasis on growth, development, resiliency and happiness, it’s no wonder would-be hires actively seek out Fibernetics - which was a finalist for both Best Employer Branding and the Ultimate Software Award For Best Workplace Culture at the 2016 Canadian HR Awards.

Here, Little explains how remote work helps develop leadership, why making mistakes is important for growth, and why HR should celebrate its successes.
If you could give your younger self, or someone entering HR for the first time, one piece of advice – what would it be?
My advice would be for someone to stay surrounded by people who are a decade older, or have a decade more experience. There’s so much knowledge that can be transferred by simply observing others with more experience that it will only speed up the learning curve of someone younger, or someone just entering the field. I would also say that mistakes are going to happen and that it’s okay. Mistakes can be the best lesson to learn from and will only strengthen a person. One other piece of advice for young HR professionals I have would be to get to know the top leaders and/or founders of the their company. Partnering with the top leaders and understanding their goals and vision will help HR’s role immensely.
Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for your HR department?
We are taking a look at using new tools for HRIS/ATS purposes in order to stay more cutting edge with technology.

What’s the biggest professional obstacle you – or your team – have faced and how did you overcome it?
Recently I joined a program called Remote Year, and travelled overseas for their four-month option. I worked remotely and was living in a timezone anywhere from 11-13 hours ahead, and so I would work opposite times as my team. However, it was my goal to prove that my role in HR can be done remotely given the right tools and team to support me. This was a chance to let other teammates learn more by providing opportunities for growth in their roles. I still supported the team, it just wasn’t necessarily on-demand and face-to-face as they were used to. This shift in availability encouraged others to solve immediate problems on their own, or to only escalate certain issues to me. It ended up being a great opportunity for others to develop leadership skills and shine in their roles.

What’s your biggest industry worry or concern right now?
As far as the HR industry goes, my biggest worry would be keeping up with state of the art technology for the tools we use. I wonder at times if we can adopt new tools as fast as other people can make them.

If you could change anything about the HR industry, what would it be?
I would eliminate the stereotypes that HR professionals face throughout their careers, which can range from being all about rules to being classified as disciplinarians. The truth is that many of us choose this field because we like to help people, and we like to let loose and have fun just as much as anyone else. If you don’t believe me, come attend the Canadian HR Awards night!

What is the proudest moment or achievement of your HR career so far?
One proud moment that comes to mind is a team celebration. We were finalist for, and won the award for, best employer branding at the Canadian HR Awards in 2015. A variety of teams worked so hard on our employer branding and culture during the year leading up to that so it was great to celebrate it together. Attending the HR Awards in and of itself was a special event for me, so leaving the event with a company award made it one of the proudest moments of my HR career.

What the most rewarding thing about being in HR?
One of the most rewarding things about being in HR at a senior level is seeing junior HR staff grow in their roles under my mentorship to become successful HR professionals. Knowing I’ve had a positive impact on others’ careers is very rewarding.

How do you predict the industry will change, if at all, over the next five years?
I predict that more jobs in general will become remote, including some functions of HR. With new tools available to us, we can work from virtually anywhere in the world - I just trialled it. The technology available to us will also help to keep HR innovative and viewed as a strategic partner to organizations.

What would you like your HR legacy to be?
As Maya Angelou explained to Oprah Winfrey, “you have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do every day. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy”.

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