Interested in a role with EP?
It’s likely our People and Culture Manager, Merissa, will be one of the first team members you’ll meet.
She oversees human resources (HR) and internal communications within the company.
And while this may be alluded to in her title, Merissa a.k.a. Mer, is very invested in building a positive work culture.
Her team’s goal is to make EP a great place to work where people can be their authentic selves.
We sat down with Merissa to chat about all things HR and find out what life for her is like outside of the office.
How it started
Merissa went into HR because she has always been interested in human behaviour, psychology and helping people. In fact, early on she even considered a career in psychology.
Ultimately, she chose HR because she felt it was where she could help people grow and reach their full potential.
While some have said that the field is more process and procedure-driven, Merissa disagrees.
She believes, “HR has evolved into a strategic partnership within organizations. Progressive organizations know that people are their most valuable assets.
Investing in people and workplace culture translates into tangible benefits such as happier employees, higher performance and profitability.”
But, leading the People and Culture team wasn’t the first thing she wanted to go into when she was younger.
In high school, she was interested in being a hairstylist and did just that for three years.
Realizing that wasn’t for her, Merissa also spent time in the legal field as a paralegal.
While she enjoyed the research aspect of law, she ended up taking an HR internship at the Edmonton International Airport which permanently changed the course of her career.
Highlights and challenges
When Merissa started with EP, it was a small team of 15.
As with any scale-up, she wore many hats including overseeing HR, as well as communications, marketing and managing the social media channels.
One of her most memorable accomplishments to date has been creating the structure for EP’s HR processes and procedures from scratch for the entire employee lifecycle.
As for the hiring process, Merissa said by the time a candidate gets to the interview stage, the People and Culture team already has an idea of their technical abilities from reading their resumes.
What she is looking for during the interview is how an applicant will fit into the culture at EP.
Some of the qualities she looks for are being open to change, someone who’s able to come in and help build the company and structure, and someone who works well in a fast-paced environment.
Merissa says, “the challenge you have working in human resources is you’re dealing with human beings and the complexity of people.
In times of conflict, you’re trying to manage the expectations of the business as well as the expectations of employees while sometimes dealing with high emotions, and trying to be fair.”
However, having over 10 years of experience in the HR role has taught Merissa how to acquire the right balance and use her intuition—something she tries to pass on to her teammate, Sam.
Out of the office, Merissa loves spending time with her friends, family and her dog, Sophie.
She also enjoys being outside on the trails around Edmonton and taking trips to the mountains.
When she’s not soaking in the fresh mountain air, Merissa can be found making all sorts of crafts.
As a creative person, she likes to dabble in painting, macrame and jewelry making—she even has an interest in graphic design!
Merissa also supports causes that she cares about, which includes having volunteered for the United Way. She believes it’s important to help people who are experiencing poverty or financial hardships.
The next cause she is interested in supporting is an organization that helps young girls learn about self-confidence, mental health and sexual education.
Merissa believes positive body image and self-esteem are not taught enough to young girls and having them be part of the school curriculum would very beneficial.
With all these things on the go outside of work, Merissa reflected on the best piece of advice she’s ever been given from her grandma who said, “don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”
Being an overachiever, Merissa can be so goal-oriented that she doesn’t make time for the simple things, but she knows it’s just as important to live in the present moment and enjoy what life has to offer.
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