Jamaican a finalist in Star’s contest for professionals



When human resources professional, Latoya Robinson, migrated from Jamaica seven years ago, the first person she touched base with was Tanya Sinclair.

Through family members who still lived in Jamaica, Sinclair had learned of Robinson’s migration and was ready to help the newcomer make the transition.

She had just graduated from Sheridan College’s Human Management Resources Management Program and was in the process of pursuing her National Certified Human Resources Professional designation.

‘The first day I landed, I called Tanya and she was so open and inviting,” recalls Robinson who was a training and development recruitment manager with the North East Regional Health Authority in Jamaica. “It’s like if she had known me for quite a while. She did not only welcome me to Canada but she offered to mentor and help me get back in the field for which I was trained. I just could not believe my good fortune.”

Robinson remembered the good deed and nominated Sinclair for a Human Resources Summit Award. She is one of three finalists in the Toronto Star Human Resource Professional of the Year category. The winners will be announced on January 31 at a gala dinner at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The awards recognize Canadian HR professionals or teams who have made outstanding contributions to the HR profession and business community through the implementation of innovative HR programs and practices as well as through leadership.

“Just to be a finalist is a victory for me,” said Sinclair, who came to Canada with her father in 1979 and settled in Edmonton before relocating to the Greater Toronto Area in 1998. “I feel like a winner and anything else is icing on the cake. I am on cloud nine.”

Sinclair’s father succumbed to cancer when she was 15 leaving the teen to fend for herself.

The now married mother of three finished high school and worked as a cosmetics manager at Eaton’s in Edmonton and a commercial account manager with Loomis Express. The benefits manager at Loomis recognized Sinclair’s people skills and recommend she pursue a human resources career.

She completed a Diploma in Management and Community Studies at Ryerson University before going to Sheridan.

“There was no job fulfillment for me in Edmonton, but I definitely found my calling when I came here,” said Sinclair, who was Home Depot’s first in-store human resources manager in 2001.

Her responsibilities in the newly-created role included recruitment, training, payroll administration, health & safety and employee relations.

A year later, Future Shop recruited her as a district human resources manager providing a wide range of HR services for nearly 19 retail stores across the province. In 2005, she joined Brampton Library as its human resources manager before moving to the 171-year-old Pickering Library three years ago to function in a similar role. The move from Brampton to Pickering coincided with her change in residence from Peel to Durham.

In addition to her full-time job as an HR professional, Sinclair chaired the Human Resources Network of Ontario Libraries before going on maternity leave six months ago and is an active volunteer with the Human Resources Professional Association Durham chapter and the Healing Cycle Foundation, and a mentor with the Canada InfoNet that connects internationally-educated mentees with experienced Canadian mentors.

She has also served on various boards, including Victim Services of Peel, Telecare Distress Centre and Career Professionals of Canada.

Robinson said that Sinclair’s wide scope of community work and her leadership as an innovative change agent delivering effective and efficient HR strategies makes her a deserving candidate for the national award.

“She has achieved so much in so little time in her HR professional career,” said Robinson, who is a contracts and quality assistant at the North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre. “She was my HR mentor and she opened doors for me and continues to be an invaluable resource.”

As an active Sheridan alumnus, the college refers to Sinclair students who are interested in pursuing an HR career. She also helps young people prepare their resumes.

“The resume is a passport to getting a job interview, so I encourage people to toot their horn and showcase their experiences because it’s unique to them and it speaks directly to that employer you are targeting,” said Sinclair, who is a member of the Jamaica 50th independence anniversary sponsorship committee. “You can’t be too humble because hiring managers don’t have time to comb through each resume. You should also be concise and make your resume appealing and a bit different by using a tasteful font.”

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