From AstraZeneca to Canada Post: Canadian HR Awards winners react

'The foundation of our business is our people. I know that sounds cliché, but it's true'

From AstraZeneca to Canada Post: Canadian HR Awards winners react

The Canadian HR Awards, presented by HRD, are officially back. Earlier this month, HR leaders gathered together to celebrate excellence in our sector - in a night that recognized individuals and teams in 20 prestigious categories.

HRD caught up with some of the lucky winners to hear what this honour means to them – and why HR centric strategies are the key to organizational excellence.

Speaking to HRD, Mary-Anne Cedrone, senior manager of communications at AstraZeneca, winner of both the Lifeworks Award for Excellence in Financial, Physical & Mental Wellness and the Venngo Award for Best Workplace Culture, revealed her shock and delight landing not one but two accolades.

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“It feels amazing. We’re so happy – and so proud of both our employees and our organization. I have to say, the foundation of our business is our people. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. At AstraZeneca, we’re at our best when our people are at theirs.”

Hosted at the Liberty Grande in Toronto, HRD welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees, all gathered to cheer on colleagues and reflect on what has been a challenging year for the profession. Taking home The Leadership Agency Award for HR Leader of the Year, Sanita Alias, vice president of people, culture and brand at CIRA, said she was thrilled and surprised.

“I'm so glad that all the sponsors and organizers put this event on in-person — it just makes such a difference. And it's great to be here IRL, with all these people. And we've focused on creating an inclusive environment where all of our employees feel supported. And that's really been beneficial to me, especially to lead this team through that.”

Brigid Pelino, senior vice president and chief people and culture officer at Definity Financial, said she was shocked — and really pleased — to receive the HRPA Award for Woman of Distinction.

“There was such a list of some incredible women. And some of them I know, and I know the types of accomplishments that they've done in their career. So kudos to all of them… I see a lot of my role, as I've grown in my career, to help other women in their careers so to have this just really makes me feel like I've accomplished some of that. You can just feel the energy here tonight. I mean, the amount of screaming and yelling is because people are just so thrilled to be together again. And it makes it so much more special, frankly, to win an award tonight in this environment. So what a special time, it just feels really good to be together again.”

For Susan Margles, chief people and safety officer at Canada Post, winner of the Canadian HR Team of the Year (500 Employees or More), this award only cemented their focus of delivering a stronger Canada. 

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“After so many tough years, this feels great,” she told HRD. “Coming through COVID, just looking at what our team was able to do, it feels fantastic to have been recognized. We’re a large HR team but we support a larger team of 70,000 employees across the country, each of which delivered every single day for Canadians throughout the pandemic.”

Kristen Ruttgaizer, chief people officer at Igloo Software, was keen to put her focus on her team – and how their commitment to each other saw them thrive in the past few year.

“We won the Canadian HR Team of the Year (Fewer Than 500 Employees) award – and it feels amazing. There’s been so many changes at Igloo and so much growth. I’m most proud of how we’ve all stuck together – we believe in each other and respect each other. We’re committed to really seeing our employees really prosper in the company.”

After such an amazing night, HRD wants to congratulate all the winners once again – and we look forward to seeing you in person at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit.

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