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Alumni Profiles

Jennifer Barbosa

Jennifer Barbosa

Pilon School of Business
Year of Graduation: 2001
Program: Human Resource Management

As a human resources (HR) professional for the past 12 years, Jennifer Barbosa has seen a couple of major trends emerge that she believes will challenge organizations over the next decade.

Mental health and workplace burnout are front and centre, says Jennifer, Director, Human Resources for Conservation Halton (CH). She cites statistics from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) which estimate that 500,000 Canadians will miss work during any given week because of a mental illness. The result: higher health care costs and lost economic productivity.

“HR professionals need to help their employers deal with this pressing issue by fostering a healthy work environment to help stop illness and burnouts from escalating. We need to understand how to better recognize the signs of mental illness and how to talk to our employees about their condition.”

Jennifer points to the knowledge gap resulting from a retiring workforce as another trend to watch. Within the Conservation Authorities alone, there are a growing number of employees with 20 or more years of experience in key roles who are poised to leave, she says.

“That’s a lot of history and knowledge walking out the door. If organizations haven’t prepared themselves with a sound succession plan, they could face trouble.”

These are the kinds of challenges that Jennifer has met with enthusiasm since she started at CH as a Human Resources Manager in 2007. Located in Burlington, CH is a community based environmental agency that protects, restores and manages the natural resources in the region’s watershed. The Human Resources division offers services to 300+ to 1100+ employees, depending on the season.

Jennifer came to CH following six years at the Canadian subsidiary of toy company Mattel, which offered her the chance to explore all avenues of human resources.

“Plus, I was able to network and share best practices with my international counterparts, which was invaluable,” says Jennifer, who joined Mattel as a co-op student in 2001. A big advocate of the college’s co-op program, she has hired two Sheridan graduates over the years.

Pursuing a career in HR was a natural progression for Jennifer, who enrolled in Sheridan after receiving her B.A. in Sociology from McMaster University.

“Helping people and organizations to become better at what they do is something I truly enjoy,” says the Mississauga native. “I believe that continuous improvement is necessary for people to be successful in their everyday lives – personally and professionally. An organization can only be as good as its people, so developing motivating and leading them is an integral piece of any businesses success.”