Alumni Stories – Katherine Duffy

A career ahead of the curve

Human Resources Management Program - B408
Graduated in 2009

Katherine Duffy

Katherine Duffy decided to take George Brown’s Certified Human Resources Professional Program in 2009 after graduating from the University of Toronto with an arts degree. She realized that to work at the leading edge of industrial relations and organizational strategic management, she would need more than theoretical knowledge. “I knew I had to find something to set me apart,” says Katherine. “I was drawn to the co-op placement and hands-on experience at George Brown, plus the program offered courses like Project Management that just weren’t available elsewhere.”

Katherine praises the Program’s vigorous and practical approach to learning, and the encouragement she received from George Brown instructors to think progressively and “beyond the usual HR silo.” She currently works for a software company called Rypple, which is revolutionizing the HR field by bringing advanced social networking concepts into the workplace. It speaks to the software’s sophistication that leading tech companies, including Facebook and Firefox creators Mozilla, use Rypple to connect and motivate their own staff.

Using Rypple, teams set social goals that everyone can work toward together. “The idea is to create a culture of learning and continuous feedback that encourages collaboration, and provides a much broader perspective than traditional HR models,” Katherine explains, noting that, “Instead of one manager giving top-down feedback, the whole group can learn from each other in a far more engaging and meaningful way.”
Appropriately enough for someone whose job revolves around connecting people, Katherine maintains close links with George Brown, and feels it’s important to share her career experience with students in her former program.

“When I was a student I wish I’d known what I know now!” she laughs. “My job really has ‘blown the door off’ what I thought was possible for my career, and I try to convey to students that the creative economy is where we are now, and if you’re innovative and prepared to take risks, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.”

An HR expert’s top tips for giving feedback

  • Give frequent public recognition for the good things people do.
  • Separate feedback from salary discussions – this prevents people from becoming defensive.
  • Make it social – include the comments of the whole team to widen the perspective.