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The New Fellow CPHR in Manitoba

May 24, 2019  

Written by CPHR Manitoba

Featured in the Spring 2019 Edition of HRmatters


On April 4, 2019, we had the honour of recognizing and celebrating our newest Fellow CPHR, Roma Thorlakson, at the HR Excellence Awards 2019.

Upon being presented with the certificate recognizing her as an FCPHR, Thorlakson took a moment to thank key individuals in the room for their supportive role in her journey and the collective efforts of CPHR Manitoba members, HR professionals and advocates in supporting the advancement of the HR profession in Manitoba.

Thorlakson’s journey began in 2011, when she became a board member with the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba Inc. (HRMAM), which was re-branded as CPHR Manitoba in 2017. When she joined, the Association was at a critical point in its life cycle, facing a financial crisis and a critical turning point in its vision.

“At my second meeting, the Board had to face the fact that the Association was in financial strain and had a six-month window to turn things around,” says Thorlakson. “Ron Gauthier [CEO of CPHR Manitoba] presented us with a deficit reduction plan that focused on reducing expenses and increasing revenue in key areas. With a plan in place, the Board decided to meet every week during this turbulent time. Once things were stabilized, we turned our attention to reviewing the Governance model and as Chair Elect, I was tasked with moving this project forward. This involved developing clearer roles for the board, officers and CEO to establish the governance model that is still used to this day.

Thorlakson, along with Gauthier and then Chair Yvonne Thompson, worked with the Board to ensure that each person’s diverse views could be shared, each person felt supported and that the Board collectively worked together under one voice.

After the Association moved past the financial crisis and good governance had been established, the Board went to work on a new five-year strategic plan that focused on elevating the profile of the HR profession and Association.

Then on a cold, Sunday afternoon, in amongst stacks of unread reports, Thorlakson came across a professional practice analysis document that outlined the HR profession and what makes the industry and an industry-specific designation credible.

“This report ignited passion around what our designation (now CPHR) means – it’s all here and I could see what we needed to do to elevate our HR profession - we just needed a champion to reinforce credibility and build on the importance of self-regulation.”

As Chair of CPHR Manitoba, Thorlakson championed the Association’s goal to become self-regulated. She developed the Terms of Reference for the self-regulation steering committee; led the committee, Board and staff away from any uncertainties; and guided them harmoniously onto a path that was committed to the strategic goals.

Meanwhile, at the national level, the Canadian Council of Human Resources Association (CCHRA) - re-branded as CPHR Canada in 2017 - was also at a crossroads. In 2014, Ontario left the national body and launched a three-tiered designation model; the other provinces had to decide to either follow suit or stay with CCHRA. As the Board Chair of HRMAM and Board Member of CCHRA, Thorlakson played a key role in helping other board members decide on a direction by outlining the opportunities and threats that would come with staying or leaving and empowered each board member to embrace their decision to support the national body and be the voice for HR in Canada. And it worked.

With all remaining provinces agreeing on a new direction and philosophy for CCHRA, Thorlakson was elected as the Board Chair. She stepped into the role without fear, worked well with the CEO, Anthony Ariganello, and focused on supporting the provinces.

During her time on the CCHRA board, Thorlakson played a critical role in the development and implementation of new standards such as the nationally-recognized Code of Ethics & Rules of Professional Conduct and adding additional pathways to become designated. Changes meant to elevate the designation to a Tier 1, level four designation similar to the engineering and accounting professions.

The biggest change occurred in late 2016 when CCHRA, and its provincial member associations, announced the designation name change to Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) and the national body’s name change to CPHR Canada. This spurred a new national marketing campaign along with renewed federal advocacy efforts.

 “It was an absolute privilege to be in a leadership role during one of the most transitional times in the history of the national and provincial associations,” says Thorlakson. “It was scary, exciting and in the end led me on my journey of making strategic decisions for lasting impacts.”

Diana Wiesenthal, FCPHR, President and C.E.O of Corporate People Responsibility (CPR) Ltd., who has been an active member of the Association since 1993, a Fellow CPHR since 2012 and a dedicated advocate for the HR profession, was honoured to celebrate Thorlakson and her granting of the Fellow CPHR at the HR Excellence Awards.

“Roma is an exemplary ambassador of the Fellow designation. She assumed a very difficult role in an uncertain and highly challenging landscape. Her contribution to the profession has lasting benefits for all of us as members. Her patience and collaborative approach ensured that she was able to navigate turbulent times, and the result of her efforts delivered a stronger, more relevant and credible professional designation that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time. I understand completely the environment in which she had to work, and despite those challenges and difficulties, she always maintained her professional composure and grace. Roma is an excellent role model for perseverance and dedication, consistently demonstrating a passion for the doing the right thing for our profession. This is an honour well earned.”

To learn more about the HR Excellence Awards 2019 and the FCPHR designation, visit

Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Manitoba (CPHR Manitoba)
1810-275 Portage Avenue / Winnipeg, Manitoba / R3B 2B3
tel. 204.943.2836 / fax. 204.943.1109 / email.

For additional information please visit: CPHR.CA

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