The 10 Most Admired Women Leaders in HR-2022

Dr. Raeleen Manjak: An Honoured HR Leader Proficient in Planting Seeds of Compassion, Care, and Betterment within the Corporation

The 10 Most Admired Women Leaders in HR - 2022

Citizens want their leaders and public employees to be inventive and offer better and more services while staying fiscally responsible in the complicated realm of local government. Dr. Raeleen Manjak, Director of Human Resources for the City of Vernon, has been leading an organizational culture evolution by assisting employees in discovering their passion and purpose while adapting and evolving the corporation to keep up with the changes. She believes in performance leadership and strives to go beyond the objectives and expectations she and her team set for themselves. When it comes to HR strategy and thinking, she feels there is always time to tread new ground.

By laying the groundwork with strong and clear communication; strategic thinking and planning; innovation and empowerment through experimentation and calculated risk-taking; providing the appropriate level of resources so that she can effectively delegate to her team as they learn to work independently and with a keen sense of accountability; and motivating and inspiring others.

Dr. Manjak has been asked to join a crucial team that will support international efforts to enhance capacity in third-world and emerging countries. This connects with her interest and expands her network in terms of worldwide collaborations.

Life before joining the City of Vernon

Dr. Manjak holds degrees from the University of Lethbridge, the University of Calgary, and the University of Phoenix. She has worked in municipal government, First Nations government, post-secondary administration, and education before joining the City of Vernon. She is a dedicated volunteer who has served on boards and committees dedicated to growth, leadership, and governance.

She considers it an honour and a blessing to do the work she does, and she believes it is vital to give back, to serve as a role model, and to motivate others to achieve their goals. She asserts, “I am so thankful that my work and my teaching have allowed me to make a difference in someone’s life, to connect with others in a very meaningful way, and to meet so many wonderful people.” She further adds that she feels so thankful for all of the deep and meaningful friendships that she has had the opportunity to build over the years.

Why Human Resources?

Dr. Manjak claims that HR picked her rather than the other way around. It became all about giving back and helping to positively affect and transform the lives of the people she has the honour and privilege of working with. It also became about the gift of employee growth and development. Providing opportunities for people to learn and grow is a passion, as well as having a deep conviction about performance leadership that creates moments for mastery and autonomy, which contribute to horizontal or upward mobility for those she works with. She asserts, “Being a practitioner of HR is about the ability to see, perhaps, what the person cannot yet see in themselves, and then supporting and sponsoring moments where they can be empowered to move forward.” She finds there is so much joy in being a part of someone’s journey.

Hub of the North Okanagan

The City of Vernon is a local authority that serves a population of 44,000 residents. Operations, recreation, community infrastructure and development, corporate services, financial services, human resources, airport, and rescue services, including emergency management, are among the services supplied. Within the service level, each of these areas has a wide range of functions.

Dr. Manjak would like to welcome you to the sunny North Okanagan, which is located in the traditional territory of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation. She says, “Our casual lifestyle matched with spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities has led Vernon to become one of the most diversified communities in BC.” In British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, one of the most desired places in Canada, the city is bordered by three lakes: Okanagan, Kalamalka, and Swan. The town is about 4 1/2 hours from Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean by automobile, and 3 hours north of the US border in Washington State.

Vernon is the largest city in the North Okanagan with a population of about 42,000 people. Coldstream, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Enderby, and Lumby are just a few of the tiny towns that surround Vernon. The North Okanagan Regional District includes these municipalities as well as other unincorporated regions.

The Okanagan Valley region as a whole has a population of over 360,000. The area is known for its long, warm summers and mild winter climate. Vernon provides an exceptional quality of life with a mix of urban amenities, world-class resorts, and amazing recreational opportunities all situated in a natural setting. Vernon is a great place to live, work, visit, or invest. Just ask anyone who lives in the region.

Director of Human Resources

As Director of Human Resources (HR), Dr. Manjak contributes to leading and creating a culture that promotes open, transparent communication and offers all workers a chance for advancement, recognition, and quality of life. In the areas of organizational design and development, human resources, labour relations, occupational health and safety, payroll and benefits, learning and development, and talent acquisition and retention, she also provides strategic leadership and direction to the corporation and the Human Resources Division.

Recognition for Excellence

In 2021, Dr. Manjak had the great honour of being awarded The O.C. Tanner Award for Lifetime Achievement in the HR industry. She was also named one of the country’s top 30 HR professionals in Canada (2017), the recipient of LGMA’s 2019 Professional Service Award for Leadership, and the recipient of the LGMA’s 2014 Professional Service Award for Innovation, and has been working to spearhead improvements in local government public service in BC. It is about driving change and leading the way in partnership with the senior management team over the past eight years to improve employee engagement and commitment to public service excellence. The City of Vernon has been profiled by the LGMA and Municipal World and Government Finance Review (GFR)Magazines.

In 2021, Dr. Manjak was presented with the President’s Award for outstanding leadership, volunteerism, and mentoring by the President of the LGMA for BC. An honour for the on-going, long-term work she has put in throughout her career.

One of Dr. Manjak’s alma maters, The University of Lethbridge, inducted her into the Alumni Honour Society. This is to recognize the achievements of a select group of alumni each year. The individuals honoured serve as role models through success in their vocation, outstanding community service or superior accomplishment in their avocation.

Be Courageous and Bold

Coaching, according to Dr. Manjak, is the new superpower. Her suggestion to aspiring female leaders is to find a coach and to start a mentorship relationship to help you grow and develop. This will never fail you and will help enhance your talents, abilities, and characteristics. For the majority of her personal and professional life, she has had a mentor. She asserts, “Step boldly, be courageous and vulnerable, and know that the only limits are the ones you place on yourself. Remember, you are less likely to do the things that you worry most about, so relax and grow.

Dr. Manjak states that one should find passion in their work and that they should not be afraid to step outside of their comfort zone. She sees this as the optimal zone where growth will take place. “Be inspired to embrace the diversity around you. Nurture and build those networks,” says Dr. Manjak.

On Mission to Improve Strategic Human Resources Management

Dr. Manjak created and administered an internal strategic capacity-building leadership program for City leaders to strengthen their management, leadership, communication, and conflict-resolution abilities. This effort has helped to establish a uniform language and set of standards for all City employees. Vernon leads the way in local government with improvements to how the corporation thinks about local government service, including the goal of creating a healthy, respectful working culture. She’s also put a lot of effort into personal wellness and creating a secure, respected workplace, with mental health and well-being at the forefront.

The HR Division has established itself as an innovative and strategic leader in local government in British Columbia by assisting workers in finding their purpose and providing the mental, physical, emotional, and technological support they require to achieve their objectives.

Dr. Manjak hopes to continue to have purpose in her life’s passion and practice of her craft by constantly seeking new ways to be interested, grow, and learn. She shares, “I also will continue to teach as a faculty at the University of Fredericton as part of the Sandermoen School of Business with a focus on Strategic Human Resources Management.”

Dr. Manjak appreciates fostering master’s and executive master’s students’ curiosity and learning outcomes. She also intends to write a book and is currently working on the outline.

Leader’s Perspective

How important is it to have a mentor to grow as a leader?

As Director of Human Resources, I have worked alongside my team to bring a formal mentoring program to the City of Vernon. Our CAO, Will Pearce, supports the vision of the Human Resource Division, who, through their mission, “Moving the organization forward using consistent, predictable, and contemporary practice. In other words, success through people! ” foster’s a strong sense of loyalty and retention. The single most important element of job satisfaction is the employer-employee relationship. This is part of my vision…

I am a key advocate and mentor for the City’s program. I have achieved Mentoring Program Manager Certification and readily endorse the importance of mentoring employees into leadership. As a supporter and champion, I have taken three (3) mentees for the first and second intakes of the program, and the success and achievement of those three (3) professionals has resulted in professional achievements in the form of confidence, pursuits of education and learning and development, and job advancement(s). I believe that there is a necessity, specifically for women, to create professional networks and to have access to leadership and advocacy. Mentorship and sponsorship can open doors to leadership and can offer critical insight into what leadership looks like. More importantly, mentorship creates opportunities, and this cycle of paying it forward will continue, creating momentum and possibilities. Finally, I believe that mentoring helps to create moments to serve as a role model and to, most importantly, walk alongside these powerful leaders as they find their own ways of being.

I believe in giving back. I take the time to work with various organizations, including one that mentors’ small organizations’ executive directors (ED). Through the SharEd program, I support and deliver information on a variety of areas focused around HR and leadership that many of the ED’s do not have expertise in. Through this connection, many ED’s have reached out to me for one-on-one for coaching and mentoring in their respective areas. I give freely of my time and expertise to help build confidence and skill development in each of these connections; building competency. Truly, I endeavour every day to live my personal credo of “Together, We are Better!”

What sort of characteristics in employees contribute to the organization’s success?

Curiosity, compassion, empathy, positivity, reliability, creativity, diplomacy, inclusion, and belonging are competencies that create indispensable employees. Employees that are effective and efficient at their work, are enjoyable to work with, are collaborative, deliver what they promise, and are timely contribute to the corporation’s success. They come up with ideas and are innovative and creative, are respectful, and they believe in equity, equality, inclusion, and diversity of thought and experience. They communicate clearly and listen deeply. Employees will achieve flow as their personal values align with the corporate values.

What is the best way to build a great team?

This is a great question. I would say that the primary, foundational item is a shared and clear purpose. This focuses the energy of the team. To continue to move forward, and to set clear expectations so that we can build the appropriate culture and effective communication tactics within the team. The culture will create and foster recognition and build those relationships and collaborative moments to empower and provide autonomy for team members to succeed. Ultimately, this creates trust and focus as the team moves together as a unified force. After all, our tag line is “Life is Short, Work Somewhere Awesome!”

What does “performance culture” mean to you?

It is about being a great place to work. A performance culture is one that works well. It is a workforce that is engaged, productive, and motivated. A performance culture is meeting and exceeding goals, being supported by leadership and colleagues, all while aligned with core corporate values. It is an environment where learning, discovery, innovation, leadership, collaboration, inclusivity, equity, equality, diversity, and belonging are wholeheartedly embraced.

As we elevate our recognition programs within the City, we align our values and, therefore, create the right environment for a performance culture to flourish. There has been much to celebrate.

This work has been supported by various awards, including our vision to be an employer of choice through The Best Places to Work Award, Excellence Award for Best Learning & Development Strategy, Young Influencer Award, 5-Star Rewards and Recognition Award, and Innovative HR Team Award.