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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

I am Not a Physicist

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

–by Josie Farrell, CHRP, Manager of Employee HR Services

Quantum Diaries! Somehow just the mere name of this blog seems a mismatch for a Human Resources professional to post on. After all, the top of this page even reads: Thoughts on work and life from particle physicists from around the world.

Well, true confessions are due: I am not a physicist. I do however, work alongside many brilliant physicists at TRIUMF; not only is TRIUMF an “Equal Opportunity Employer,” but it also now encourages “Equal Opportunity Blogging.” This in and of itself speaks volumes for the term “inclusiveness” which is also a great feature working at TRIUMF – diversity and inclusiveness. But back to Quantum Diaries. Since now you know I am not a physicist, the choice is yours, but I hope you will continue to read on!

Working in Human Resources is not the easiest job in the world, let alone at a research lab like TRIUMF. It is not that scientist-types don’t think HR is useful, it is my experience that they don’t all see it as necessary. As a consequence, it can feel like a constant struggle to make the case for key HR initiatives or even simply to have supervisors conduct their research and manage their staff simultaneously. Research drives the organization so there must always be a delicate balance of administrative bureaucracy and buy-in to policies and procedures that maintain consistency and legalities—-as well as push the lab forward. But that is another topic.

So that said, I have always loved science, chemistry and biology in particular, but nevertheless, science. One of the greatest benefits for me at TRIUMF is the opportunity to learn. If you are in a non-science related position, and you like to learn, the opportunities are endless if you pay attention and take advantage. I first started learning about our science program when I became involved with recruitment activities for high profile, specialized research positions. You know, the kind of positions you recruit internationally for because there are only a handful of physicists in the world with that particular area of expertise you need. Well if I have to assist in developing a job description, and ultimately preparing ad copy for the job posting, I have to understand what it is I am writing about, and what the successful applicant is really going to do. If I don’t understand, I can’t possibly put things in context and frame the scope of the position in such a way so as to attract the best of the best physicists out there. So therein began my education of various terms and technologies and experimental activities relevant to not only our science program, but also to nuclear physics in general.

You can’t help but learn new things at TRIUMF simply by walking in the hallways, or sitting in a meeting or even getting a coffee. There is science and technology all around you and it would be a wasted day not to absorb some of that in. I work with people who really love what they do, and they love to talk about it and answer your questions. I don’t claim to understand physics at the advanced or technical level, but when I sit in a meeting or take in a presentation, I usually get it now. I really get it. I want to get it.

So while Human Resources in a particle & nuclear physics lab may have its challenges, a significant part of my job satisfaction comes from increasing my knowledge base every day.

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