Jessica Dolphin is an accomplished HR professional with over 15 years of experience. She held various positions, from HR assistant to manager. With a diploma and HR management certification, she excels in business partner roles. Dolphine’s expertise spans food manufacturing, retail, oil and gas, and engineering. Joining 7-Eleven as a Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Dolphin now serves as Human Resources Leader in Canada.

In an interview with Manage HR Canada magazine, Dolphin shares her insights on the challenges and emerging trends in the learning and development of HR professionals in the industry and the experience she has gathered in the domain.

How has the perspective on investing in employee development and fostering a culture of continual learning evolved in organizations, including 7-Eleven?

A significant aspect that has consistently influenced my HR journey and role in various companies is the emphasis on continuous education, cross-functional experience, practical engagement, and leadership skill development. These principles reflect our daily demonstration of effective leadership and emotional intelligence. Since returning to work full-time during the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented unprecedented challenges, our HR department has been busier than ever. Creating extensive policies and procedures became important.

Now, an industry-wide shift has occurred, prioritizing the importance of investing in the growth of each individual and holding them as equal partners. This investment encompasses not only external courses but also internal mentoring and coaching programs. Through initiatives like internships and mentorship programs, we adopt a collaborative approach that reinforces the value of continuous learning and improvement across all roles. Teams always want to give their 100 percent, but I believe in incremental development. I encourage my team to do just one percent better than the previous day, which results in remarkable cumulative progress over the course of a year.

The focus on training and development has provided valuable insights to multiple organizations. It has underscored the need to not only assess the exceptional benefits offered to our team members but also recognize the internal resources that enable us to continuously nurture and promote high-potential internal candidates. Through avenues such as internal education and consistent communication, we ensure that internal opportunities are voiced and readily available to those willing to put in the effort.

How do you prioritize internal growth and promotion through cross-functional training and support?

One aspect that we prioritize and actively foster within our organization is our leadership principles and our commitment to providing comprehensive cross-functional training. We collaborate with individuals or teams keen to advance their careers within our organization. As leaders, we facilitate their internal development.

“Through avenues such as internal education and consistent communication, we ensure that internal opportunities are voiced and readily available to those willing to put in the effort.”

Human Resources believe in promoting individuals within the organization. It is more beneficial than recruiting new candidates, provided they possess the necessary qualifications. As part of our operational strategy, both the senior leadership and departmental leadership teams proactively engage in developing an understanding of our team members. We strive to ascertain their long-term aspirations, encompassing their two-year, five-year, and even ten-year plans. Our senior leadership team finds areas for internal promotion while ensuring the requisite support mechanisms are in place to facilitate the employee’s success.

For instance, if an employee expresses interest in real estate, we identify a seasoned professional in our organization who specializes in real estate, allowing them to shadow and spend valuable time together. This approach provides employees with a comprehensive understanding of the job’s nature, both in terms of its day-to-day operations and the underlying dynamics.

We firmly believe that our organization offers much more than a mere convenience store experience; we take pride in our robust business growth initiatives and the wealth of collaborative work that takes place behind the scenes. Every team member, beyond just cashiers or sales associates, plays a vital role in our collective effort to foster an environment for continuous learning.

What are the significant advancements and benefits of evolving technology, particularly in terms of accessibility, knowledge availability, and recruitment support?

Technology holds great significance when considering factors like accessibility and the abundance of available knowledge. It aids us in improving recruitment processes and continuously advances our computer systems for effective human resources management. Our store’s marketing teams have made remarkable progress by utilizing technology to provide services such as the 7-Eleven membership and gaining insights into our customers’ preferences.

Including QR codes is a fascinating concept that would have perplexed individuals five years ago. It is truly invigorating to be with a company that prioritizes updated technology. This is exemplified in our customer-centric approach, where in-store customers can conveniently use mobile checkout options. Our user-friendly application, the Seven Now app, empowers users to accumulate points and redeem complimentary items in stores. Using platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to their fullest potential, our marketing team has created marketing strategies that deliver exceptional results.

This forward-thinking approach resonates with all our team members, including our recruitment team. We have embraced technological advancements not only in the way we recruit but also in our presence at career fairs. Instead of traditional paper handouts, we now utilize QR codes, which is truly exhilarating. A small piece of paper with a QR code that reads, ‘Hey, 7-Eleven is hiring! Apply today,’ leads interested individuals directly to our online recruitment page. The effectiveness of these methods demonstrates the tech-savvy nature of the candidates.

Where do you envision the industry moving forward?

I believe that most tasks will be accomplished using mobile devices. Considering our commitment to reducing environmental impact, we must prioritize ecological stewardship. This entails adopting delivery methods with lower emissions, eliminating paper use in our collective hiring processes, and transitioning our internal operations to a paperless system.

For example, instead of physical business cards, we have a digital solution, an app that can be conveniently downloaded onto our mobile devices. This progressive approach signifies our commitment to reducing our ecological impact. Our ambition to go paperless is driven by our promise to minimize our carbon footprints.

What is your piece of advice to fellow peers from your experience and journey?

It is important to approach each conversation with genuine kindness and compassion. I consistently emphasize the significance of initiating conversation with the core values of kindness, respect, and empathy in mind. This fundamental guideline serves as the foundation of effective communication, urging us to interact with others in a manner that aligns with how we desire to be treated.

I think for any young professional looking to get into this business, is to connect with people on LinkedIn; I can’t emphasize that enough, I’ve been given so many amazing opportunities, just through having a really good LinkedIn account, because everything just backs up to communication. Having a great online presence is very beneficial. But also having the ability to network and communicate effectively is incredibly critical as well.

When it comes to individuals, particularly aspiring or junior HR personnel seeking entry into the field, I consistently emphasize the tremendous power of asking. Without asking, one remains unaware of the possibilities that may unfold. I encourage individuals to express their viewpoints boldly and fearlessly. It is essential to embrace and harness the transformative influence of the ‘ask.’