by Gloria Welton
Recently UPEI held a Career Day with the Faculty of Business. A variety of speakers talked about their career choices and the steps they took along the way and offered advice to others.
One speaker was Tanya Rowell, CEO of PEI’s Public Service Commission.
Tanya graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Diploma in Public Administration from UPEI, and also holds a Certificate in Human Resource Management through UPEI and Holland College, and her Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation through CPHR PEI.
“In my fourth year in the business program at UPEI I had my plans all mapped out to become a Chartered Financial Planner,” says Tanya. “I was working at a bank and was going to get into investing.
“Around Thanksgiving that year, I applied for a number of jobs to practice my interview skills. One job opportunity was with JD Irving Limited in Saint John, New Brunswick.
“In all, there were a series of four interviews in one day. They considered us for the areas they thought we were most qualified for. The last interview of the day was with the senior executive of human resources and the president of the company, who suggested that I was cut out for a job in HR.
“At that time HR was not really promoted as a career choice. I asked what that job entailed. I remember hearing it was about helping employees have the right skillset for their jobs and ensuring that the employer has the right people in the right place at the right time. We also discussed how HR impacts culture. As we talked, something resonated with me.
“After careful consideration, I took a chance, changed my plan, and after I graduated, I moved to Saint John to start my career in HR there. It was an amazing opportunity. I also got to travel around the Maritimes and United States but I was starting to miss living on PEI.
“I had a great relationship with the company and I was offered a position on PEI to grow HR with an affiliate Irving company here. Then in 2001, an opportunity with the province of PEI presented itself and I have stayed with the government ever since. The opportunities and flexibility of working in government allowed me to move around in various roles.”
Tanya has held several senior roles within human resources in the departments of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment, Tourism, Health and Social Services, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the Public Service Commission.
“Being with government has been an excellent career choice for me to be able to have various career options and advancement opportunities,” says Tanya.
She suggests people in the HR field need great communication skills to form and maintain healthy relationships. “Also, be willing to always look at the needs of the population you serve. Make sure the what, why, and how of the work you and your team do aligns with the needs of those around you and realign accordingly.
“Surround yourself with the right people and take good care of those people because you cannot do everything on your own. It is all about the team around you and relationships. A positive, flexible, and innovative mindset is also important.
“Being in HR, it is important to collaborate and problem solve with internal and external stakeholders. In the early COVID-19 days, there were some extremely important concerns and challenges to resolve to ensure we maintained service delivery while providing a safe work environment for our valued employees. What worked really well was our relationship with our union and our ability to sit down and have real transparent conversations to come up with workable solutions for all.
“What I enjoy most in my role is the amazing people I get to work with, seeing the impact of the work we do, and knowing that everyone involved has directly or indirectly contributed to the well-being of Islanders. It doesn’t matter what job title anyone holds – everyone who is part of the process has the ability to make a significant difference.
“Our core values with the province are respect, integrity, accountability and excellence and they are guiding principles for me personally and professionally. Also, never underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence – it plays a significant role in success. Take time to learn and understand what areas you do well in, what you could improve upon, and what you want to pursue.
“We are in an interesting time. Working for government has really changed over the years and we are in a place where exciting change is inevitable. It is a great time to come into a government job and be part of the change, to revisit the way things are done and the types of services delivered.”
Tanya encourages job seekers to explore the areas of government that might be an option and consider the various career opportunities available. “It is a job seeker’s market, and there are many solid opportunities out there, especially with our provincial public sector.”
When choosing a career, she says it is very important to pay attention to those moments in your work and studies that spark your interest. “Never lose your quest to better your development and pay attention to what you like and what lights the spark inside you. These experiences may lead to a career path or a next job that you really never thought about.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about Tanya Rowell, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/employee/rowell-tanya
Check out provincial government opportunities at www.gov.pe.ca/jobspei and follow Government of PEI Jobs on Facebook and Instagram.