Faculty Feature | Heidi Bachert-Burke

Heidi Bachert-Burke brings more than twenty years of experience and progressive knowledge of Human Resources Management and Administration to Ashton College.

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Heidi has worked at the senior management level for large, public sector organizations, managing the full spectrum of Human Resources and Administrative activities in domestic and international locations, providing training and workplace facilitation, and coaching and mentoring direct reports for success.We caught up with her to ask some questions about her new position as an instructor in the Diploma in Human Resources Management program.

Tell us about yourself

I achieved a Masters of Arts Degree in Political Science, but I’ve chosen a career in Human Resources Management. It may not be directly related to my degree, but interestingly, there is a lot of alignment between politics and HR. The Human Resources field is good for people interested in research and coordination, dealing with information and policies, as well as communicating with different people.

I have over 23 years of industry experience working as a senior manager in HR and overseeing labour relations and administrative operations (predominantly in the public sector). I am also involved in strategic HR management, helping the HR sector and ensuring alignment between the company’s objectives and work environment.

I was an instructor in Ontario, and started teaching at Ashton after I moved to BC with my family. I enjoy being involved in the community, which is why I am involved in various change management initiatives.

How did you first get into the industry?

I was working on my Political Science thesis, and I realized that I didn’t yet have a clear idea of where I wanted to go in my career. I went to a career fair around the same time, and was encouraged to look into the HR sector and labour relations. I didn’t have the experience required for a HR position (at least I didn’t think I did), but I decided to try it out and apply – and I got hired! I had to learn how to use different technologies and tools for the job, but I feel like I really thrived.

I was promoted quickly, and I really enjoyed the job I had. Throughout my career, I have worked in large public sector organizations, where I had an opportunity to deal with multiple unions, national and international bureaus (including in Moscow, Beijing, Washington, among others). I had multiple responsibilities in HR, which always kept my job interesting and rich in experiences.

What do you like the most about working in HR?

I love working with knowledgeable, creative and inquisitive people – I have a very creative side to me (I enjoy painting and am interested in interior design).

I have had multiple experiences with conflict resolution and finding solutions to different problems, so having a creative mind was really helpful at those times.

Why did you want to teach at Ashton?

Teaching has intrigued me ever since I was first approached by the college faculty in Ontario to teach there. After my family and I moved to BC, I found myself gravitating towards teaching in colleges again.

I went to Ashton’s website, and there were a lot of things that attracted me. For one, I liked that HR courses at Ashton included a business component, talking explicitly about different business organizations and concepts that I believe the students should be familiar with. I also had an opportunity to be creative in my courses: I could take the materials and engage with them, making them more personalized.

What you like the most about teaching?

Teaching allows me to engage and communicate with people, which is what I enjoy the most. I am able to make so many connections with so many students. It is a great experience as I also learn a lot from them. There are often international students in the class; many of them are new Canadians, sharing their experiences from back home. I learn a lot about their home countries and cultures.

I would also say that I like making an impact in students’ lives. When I first got the feedback from course evaluations, I could see that the students had really enjoyed the course and connected with the materials. Knowing this made me want to continue influencing the students’ lives, passing down my knowledge and experiences.

Do you have any advice for those considering a career in HR?

Work hard and take your schooling and responsibilities seriously: it is your inner-drive and work ethic that a future employer is going to judge you by, so it is always a good idea to develop it early on.

Another piece of advice I would give is to focus on developing interpersonal and communication skills. The HR field is very service oriented: it is about interacting as strategic partners with management at all levels of an organization, ensuring alignment with organizational strategies, as well as building and maintaining collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders and clients. Communication skills will definitely be an asset.

When it comes to skills for employment, the emphasis is on abilities, training and knowledge. But it is imperative that students also develop their soft skills as they play an important role in day to day operations. As students will learn in the Diploma in Human Resources Management program at Ashton College, a successful organization is only as good as its people.

And on a final note, to develop a successful career in HR, I would suggest the following:

Seek out and participate in networking opportunities and make connections. Getting to know the right people can provide you with a big advantage later in your career. Furthermore, there is a lot you can learn by listening to what others have to say.

  • Follow online resources and keep up-to-date by reading materials and research developed by HR professional associations.
  • Remember: local professional association groups are great resources, and they provide opportunities to connect and exchange knowledge with other HR professionals.

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