This article is courtesy of Accelerate Okanagan blog post: Meet Tanja Halsall, published March 14, 2022 by Harrison Crerar.
A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Tanja. Tanja Halsall is the Owner and Chief People Officer at Potentia HR. When she’s not helping teams experience and engage with exceptional work culture, you’ll find Tanja camping, curling with “Team Fun” or out on the golf course chasing her second hole-in-one.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I own Potentia Human Resources, a full-service HR firm that works with clients in all different industries—manufacturing, winery, retail, daycare, health care, you name it. We do lots of fun things like HR advisory services, executive coaching, leadership training, recruitment and more. For clients who aren’t big enough to have their own HR department yet, we’ve come to be known as HR-to-go.
What do you enjoy most about working in HR?
Leadership training and facilitation are absolutely my favourite things to do. I also teach at UBCO as an Adjunct Professor for the Faculty of Management for a fourth-year HR management program. I love the intersection of coaching, teaching and advisory services that make up facilitation.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I started my post-secondary journey in the Bachelor of Education program. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and, after having kids, I wondered what I wanted to do next. I ended up going through my program syllabus and flagging everything that I loved—whether it was a course, a description or something that just inspired me. Reviewing all the pieces, themes of facilitation, learning and development, advising and contributing in a meaningful way stood out. After a bit more research, I saw that Human Resources checked all those boxes.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
If you do what you love, HR will find you within that. It’s an intersection of many different things. Facilitation, encouragement, mentorship, advisory services, business acumen, business impact—there are so many different things that can lead you to HR. My first experience in the field was as a restaurant manager for Red Lobster. I loved training people and making sure that everyone had what they needed. I looked forward to meeting with my team and chatting with them. That’s how I knew I was heading down the right career path.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
Quinton Pullen and I used to work together at Grant Thornton. He was on the Board of Directors for Accelerate Okanagan (AO) at the time and told me that I should get involved. He explained what they were looking for on their governance board and talked about what they did, knowing how much I liked to make a difference. Now, I’m on the AO Board. Potentia works with quite a few tech companies, as well, so I had been exposed to the community from that perspective, but seeing everything that Brea and her team are doing at AO to support local businesses and the community has been amazing.
What do you enjoy most about the community?
Seeing people supporting people. That’s something we need to continue as we come out of the pandemic. That means evaluating businesses and really asking what they need. Before COVID-19, working remotely was a niche concept. Now, everyone has found a way to adopt it. We need to think outside the box to figure out exactly what the business needs and, more importantly, what the people need to maintain an exceptional culture and stay engaged with their work.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be yourself. We need to stay true to who we are and leverage our strengths to make things happen. Following that advice has led me towards the most meaningful direction every time. But sometimes it takes a lot of courage to do that. There are a lot of people who have a hard time being themselves because they feel like they have to give responses that people expect of them. You need to be yourself and let that light guide you.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who inspired others, who stayed true to who they were and helped others grow. Most importantly, I want to be remembered for giving back. That’s massive for me. My life hasn’t been easy and I like to give back to organizations that address obstacles I encountered on my journey. So I hope that I can make a difference in someone’s life because of that.
I enjoy seeing people supporting people. That’s something we need to continue as we come out of the pandemic.
– Tanja Halsall