Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the compassionate Human Resources professional, Jabeen Boga, a natural lifelong leader, teacher and mentor. As an integrated and strategic Business Partner to the management and leadership team at her current organization, Jabeen inspires HR professionals within and outside of the organization. She is an ambassador of the HR profession and is well known within the industry for her breadth of knowledge and experience. She has been recognized by the Canadian HR Awards and is a recipient of Human Resources Director’s (HRD) Canada’s Rising Star Award. Jabeen has also served on the CPHR BC & Yukon Advisory Council to work with the leadership team in overseeing and contributing towards generating awareness and education of the Human Resources profession within the Greater Vancouver Region. The goal of this Council is to enhance the spectrum of knowledge and exposure of human resources. Various organizations tap into Jabeen’s leadership and HR knowledge as a guest speaker for various lectures and networking events. She has been a panelist at numerous post-secondary sessions, as well as, professional networking events where she is able to share her experience on a variety of topics including How to Land Your Dream Job. Most recently, CPHR Canada, the regulatory body for the HR Designation in Canada, has selected her as one of five members to participate in the creation of the National Knowledge Exam for the HR designation. Jabeen has also been teaching at Ashton College for over 5 years in their Human Resources Program and has been recognized as a Featured Faculty Member for innovative teaching practices and is one of the few instructors able to teach all courses in the Diploma in Human Resources program. Jabeen believes that through hard work and perseverance absolutely anything is possible. It’s her constant quest to try to be better today than she was yesterday whether this is through learning, preparation or practice. And to that we say YES!
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
A warrior is seen as someone with a “determined spirit” that drives their actions towards their goals and vision. My name was carefully selected by my parents whereby each letter represents a name of a close family member. “Jabeen” resonates with leadership and peace.
Throughout my life I have embodied that definition through succeeding against challenges and coming out even more determined often as a leader. I try my best to find a way to persevere through obstacles and in doing so try to raise others up with me whether it is through mentoring, career networks, outreach, etc. I feel that my ability to empower others has made the hallmark of my career where I invest not only in my own development but also support those of others as Girl Warriors.
You moved a lot when you were young because of your father’s career. What were some of the challenges, and the advantages, of always being the new kid in school?
I feel fortunate to have been able to have had exposure to so many Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. At such a young age, I was able to quickly learn how to restart and build relationships. I learned key skillsets for developing meaningful relationships and strategies on how to cope through change.
It was tough when you started as a new student midway through a school year and all the friend circles, routines and classes were already established. Not only did this mean I had to catch up with curriculum, but also I had to do so while trying to make friends. This also brought me closer to my family as we had one another to turn to.
The biggest challenges were learning how to quickly adjust to a new environment and the “unknown” associated with it. It takes time and patience to fit in, learn a new routine and develop friendships. I feel that this opportunity allowed me to get a lot closer to my parents than I might have otherwise, I consider them to be my mentors, my support and my rocks.
How did that experience set the stage for your adult life?
Now I have friendships that span all across Canada. This experience helped me to learn how to develop friendships, quickly establish rapport while nurturing existing relationships on the other side of the country! I also learned not to take anything for granted and to enjoy the moment. Through these experiences, I’ve learned how to build a community surrounding my work; professional associations and volunteer groups so I can make any place truly feel like home.
When you got married in 2018, you and your husband took an nontraditional approach to your wedding. Why was it important to you to give to charity rather than have a big lavish celebration?
My husband has a very big family and we are blessed with many close friends. After much deliberation, we decided that in lieu of having a large wedding, we were going to make donations to charities. We decided this as we both faced losses of our close loved ones (my grandparents and his father) and we wanted to honor them in the best way possible. From there, we selected their favorite charities such as the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), Alzheimer’s foundation, Canadian Cancer Society and Sick Kids.
We still went the extra mile for all our events ensuring no stops were missed but did it on a much smaller scale. This allowed us to donate all the savings of a large wedding.
Our wedding story was shared in 2020’s Cultural Wedding Planner (a national wedding magazine). We feel so humbled and hope to inspire others to follow in our steps.
Tell us about your mentoring program and why it is so important to you?
Mentoring is a crucial element towards someone’s professional development and professional growth. I truly believe in committing to my own development as well as others and find it is most effective through the mentoring relationship. It has been an honor to be able to help instill knowledge and assist those in reaching their career potential.
To me, mentorship provides a platform to exchange ideas, develop and assist with important career decisions. I have had the privilege in mentoring 6 professionals through SFU’s Beedie School of Business, CPHR BC & Yukon and Young Women in Business (YWIB). I have found my mentoring relationships to be mutually beneficial where I have had the opportunity to learn from all of my mentees and their experiences. I have found it to be personally rewarding seeing my mentees evolve along the journey and ultimately reach their end goal. These mentorship programs have also allowed me to develop great relationships.
This is an extremely difficult time in the world right now. What advice would you give to women to help them cope mentally and deal with job loss during the pandemic?
Recently, many individuals including women have experienced job loss, which is a difficult process to endure. For most of us, our jobs provide us with much more than a source of income, they provide us with structure, a professional identity and impact the way we see ourselves.
During this time, it is normal to feel many ups and downs as well as a wide array of emotions. It is important to remind yourself that job loss is the unfortunate reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to remember, it is not you, it is the situation that has impacted millions with job loss. It is critical that you do not take this personally.
There are many things you can do to get through this period and you may find that this opportunity allows you the time to review your career goals and focus on what is most important to you.
I suggest using this time to update your resume, build your LinkedIn profile, practice interviewing, search for jobs (many places are still hiring) and the most important take care of yourself. Although it is tough to keep your morale up during social distancing, there are many things we can do from the comfort of our home. This could be reading a book, watching a movie or something on Netflix, eating a favorite snack and trying your best to stay positive during this period.
What’s the biggest decision you ever made?
I come from a family full of accountants; everyone from my grandfather, cousins and my own father is an accountant (all CAs now known as CPAs). I naturally studied accounting as well. During my 3rd year of university, I was in an advanced accounting course when I realized that I was unsure about accounting. I didn’t know whether I should pursue a career in it, as I didn’t feel that drive, that spark you should feel towards a concentration. This is when I decided to do a co-op term, I did it in marketing, but it somehow ended up being truly a Human Resources role. This is where I found my love and passion (that spark) for the field of Human Resources.
I spoke to my father about this and told him about my newfound passion and did two more co-op terms just to make sure. His love and support with this decision helped get me to where I am today.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career?
The biggest challenge was early on in my career where I stepped into a national role covering Canada. I found this to be very difficult because each province had its own legislation particularly surrounding employment law (each province has its own Employment Standards and own Occupational Health and Safety Boards). I learned quickly how to familiarize myself with strategies to learn the key elements of each provincial law, I created spreadsheets and utilized resources to help me better understand differences. This greatly helped me in providing legal advice to stakeholders all across the organization.
What do we need to know “for sure” about being a Human Resources Professional?
Often Human Resources is looked upon as an industry that solely interacts with people. There is so much more to it than that! Human Resources is filled with many different elements and concentrations such as compensation, employee relations (employment law), labor relations, recruitment, analytics, health and safety/disability management, training and development just to name a few! I would suggest that anyone looking to get into Human Resources understands that there are many different specializations and options to pursue.
The other piece to be aware of is that as an HR professional, you need to constantly learn and maintain your knowledge as legislation is always changing (Human Rights, Employment Standards, Canada Labor Code, etc.). This is required by all levels of HR professionals.
What does being a leader mean to you?
This question reminds me of the quote “Leaders are made not born.” Regardless of where I am in my career, I am constantly working hard and pushing myself to continue to grow and develop whether it is in my personal or professional life.
A fundamental element of being a good leader is leading by example (through your actions). If you are telling your employees to behave in a certain way, then as a leader you should role model that behavior. Role modelling the behavior or actions required is critical towards developing trust and credibility amongst your team. This is something I live by.
Secondly, empowering your team to succeed. Recognizing that as a leader, you cannot do it on your own. You need to be able to equip your team and trust them to perform. You need to recognize and nurture their strengths. This not only allows members of your team to grow professionally but it also allows you to lead effectively.
Lastly, being able to adapt, although we would like every project/situation to succeed, we often are faced with various unanticipated challenges be it a last-minute change in direction, a change in governmental regulation, an environmental factor (we are living it now with COVID-19). As leaders, we need to be able to roll with the punches.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
It is completely acceptable to be unsure of what you want to do upon graduation. There is no issue in changing careers or deciding your dream job is going to cross another industry or a different career path. Many people change careers multiple times.
Sometimes the best way of determining the right fit is by doing, for me it was in my accounting course that I determined it was not my passion. Other people realize this in internships or through years of a career that they feel they no longer want to pursue. We are all finding our way at all different stages of life.
What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
I would suggest for future Girl Warriors to take advantage of networking. This is something that I wish I did when I was younger.
There are so many great women to learn from and even more easily today with technology. In the span of seconds, we can easily connect via LinkedIn, send an email or ask a friend to introduce us. Do NOT be afraid to connect and network! These actions will only further your personal and professional growth.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?
There are so many amazing women out there! I would say my biggest hero is Jacinda Ardern, who is the youngest female head of state in the world today. Her commitment to fighting economic inequality has made strides in New Zealand and is very commendable.
Another inspirational figure for me is Rosa Parks for her courage and bravery against racial segregation. Her actions have made a profound impact on the world and continue to be referenced today.
On a personal note, another Girl Warrior for me is my mom for her constant support and guidance through thick and thin. Seeing her strength and resilience has given me the confidence to believe in myself.
Blue Sky it. No boundaries here, just limitless opportunities. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself continuing to grow and build my career, engaging in community involvement and continuing to make an impact with outreach. This will all be due to my wonderful sources of support. In terms of my personal life, there is so much more of the world I’d like to travel and see with my husband!
What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cry out all the tears?
My family and close friends know my sense of humor best; they can make me laugh at the drop of the hat! My grandfather was the biggest joker of our family, his jokes kept me laughing for days!
What has been your biggest disappointment/triumph?
My biggest triumph was being recognized as Canada’s Rising Star by the Human Resources Director and later by the Canadian HR Awards. It was an honor to have been recognized on these platforms given the incredibly accomplished individuals that have been recognized in the past and alongside with me. I am using this opportunity to instill and grow developing professionals through various avenues including mentorship, CPHR BC & Yukon’s Career Network, advice articles and blogs. I think the biggest thing that we can do is learn from each other.
My disappointment was during my wedding planning when a member of my larger friend circle was upset for not getting invited to my wedding (although I was not invited to their recent wedding). I am disappointed with myself for letting this person get the better of me; I chose to have a smaller wedding kept to my immediate circle for the bigger reason of helping others through donations. Due to limiting costs, this added an additional weight on me whereby I was doing everything from being the wedding planner to the actual bride and that too with only a few months to get everything done. Time-wise I could not afford to allow it to bring me down. Fortunately, my close friends, husband and others lifted me back up again.
If a play were written based on your life, what would it be called?
The “Sky is the Limit.” I strongly believe through hard work and perseverance absolutely anything is possible. It’s a constant quest to try to be better today than I was yesterday whether it is through learning, preparation or practice. Hard work is ultimately what got me to where I am today.
You can learn more about Jabeen on the Ashton College Faculty Feature: https://www.ashtoncollege.ca/faculty-feature-jabeen-boga/
Connect with Jabeen on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jabeen-boga
Read her Career Advice Articles on BC Jobs: https://www.bcjobs.ca/blog/author/jabeenboga/
Jabeen’s CPHR Career Network-My COVID-19 Series can be viewed here: https://eweb.cphrbc.ca/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=EventInfo&Reg_evt_key=C0ACBBAF-2AE9-4673-AB81-1C3F48DB8AE4&RegPath=EventRegFees#sthash.3kjOStUB.dpbs