Heidi Hauver prepping Invest Ottawa's startups to win the 'war for talent'

Heidi Hauver
Invest Ottawa's vice-president of human resources Heidi Hauver. Photo by Mark Holleron.

By her own admission, Heidi Hauver gets bored easily. But she doesn’t see that becoming an issue at her new gig any time soon.

Hauver, the new vice-president of human resources at Invest Ottawa, has tackled a series of diverse roles in a career that’s spanned nearly two decades. She built the HR department at the non-profit Canadian Internet Registration Authority from the ground up and later spent half a dozen years as VP of human resources at IT services firm Pythian, expanding its department from one person to 20 and winning a slew of industry awards.

In September, Hauver resigned as a managing partner at talent search firm Keynote Group – the fastest-growing company in town, according to OBJ’s survey last spring – and headed to Bayview Yards to join the crew at the city’s main economic development agency.

Though her impressive CV includes several stops so far, Hauver says she’s in it for the long haul at IO.

“This is probably the coolest HR gig in the city,” she tells OBJ with a smile. “To have that ability to work in an organization that has made such an impact on our community is huge for me. It’s the perfect fit.”

Hauver’s latest assignment defies easy description. Job No. 1, she says, is ensuring IO’s employees are given the tools they need for long-term success, whether it’s training opportunities or monthly meetings with managers to continuously track where an employee is at in his or her career journey. 

She also serves as an adviser to the portfolio companies at the agency’s Bayview Yards accelerator, answering questions and offering suggestions when asked.

“It’s an intimidating place to be when you’re that first HR professional to join an organization,” she says. “I love being able to provide that guidance and support. I can kind of take the lessons that I’ve learned and the wisdom that I’ve gained from my mentors and be able to pass that along. It’s a pretty cool role.”

Hauver understands that having set procedures for key functions such as welcoming new hires to a workplace and evaluating employees might not be a priority for founders who are devoting every waking hour to generating revenue and keeping the lights on. But it should be, she says. 

The “war for talent” is real, Hauver says, and the firms with the best chance of long-term success are the ones that take the time to ensure employees feel their contributions are valued and they’re in sync with the company’s leaders and their goals. 

“I would say to organizations, ‘Start with something, and build on it.’ I think that’s really critical,” Hauver says.

“I feel like a big part of my role here is to help the founders that we engage with and the CEOs that we work with to change their mindset on that and to see the strategic value (of HR). We spend so much time and energy and money and focus on bringing in great talent, and then we basically say to those folks, ‘Good luck.’” 

Invest Ottawa often partners with post-secondary institutions and other local agencies such as World Skills Employment Centre, a non-profit organization that provides training and job search support to new Canadians.

Hauver says tapping into the knowledge other partners have gained over the years helps IO and its portfolio companies up their own HR games.

“The unique role I have, which is why I think it’s the coolest HR gig in the city, is I get to say, ‘Wow, that’s an incredible program we get to benefit from and now I can go tell 50 companies about it because they should also be benefiting from it.’ I feel really fortunate that I get that opportunity.”

People on the move, hats off

Local creative agency McMillan announced a number of changes. Former president Rob Hyams will replace founder Gord McMillan as chief creative officer, with McMillan taking on the roles of chair and “chief disruptor.” Theresa Forman, previously the firm’s vice-president of strategic services, becomes the new president. McMillan also relinquished his role as CEO, turning it over to former Sid Lee partner Pierre Paul Samson, who joined the company as VP of client experience in 2018. 

Carleton University has appointed Yaprak Baltacioglu as its 12th chancellor. The Carleton alumna earned a master’s degree from the School of Public Policy and Administration before joining the federal civil service, where she held leadership roles in various departments and served as an adviser to four prime ministers. Baltacioglu has been honoured by the Public Policy Forum and has twice been recognized by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board has named its board of directors for 2019. The new board will be comprised of president Dwight Delahunt, past-president Ralph Shaw, president-elect Deborah Burgoyne and vice-president Dominique Milne. Joining them are directors Ken DekkerMitch GauzasPaolo FaragoTim LeeAndrew OuellettePeter SardelisAnne ScharfPenny Torontow and Debra Wright

Ottawa marketing firm Compass Rose has made four additions to its team. Ken Polk has nearly 30 years of communications experience as a senior political aide, having served under former PM Jean Chrétien and as a senior official with Health Canada. He specializes in regulatory affairs, strategy, crisis and issues management and speechwriting. Kathleen Walsh brings a decade of experience in policy, non-profits and operations, with a focus on science policy. Sara Hubberstey and Valerie Boucher are also joining the firm, specializing in design, strategic partnership building and branding and communications. 

Richard B. Fadden has been named chair of ADGA Group’s strategic advisory council. Fadden held a series of senior leadership positions with the government of Canada, serving as the national security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, deputy minister of national defence and director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He also held deputy minister titles with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Natural Resources Canada.  

ADGA Group chief executive Françoise Gagnon has been named one of the Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women for 2018 by the Women’s Executive Network. Gagnon has been CEO since 2014 and leads a national team of 800 employees and consultants who offer strategic consulting,