I come from a culture where relationships thrive on reciprocity and human connections create a collective identity and a sense of belonging. For me, when I arrived in Canada, this innate need to look for something similar found its satiation in the most fulfilling experience of “Volunteerism”. Not only did volunteering help me create new connections that were “based on reciprocity” but it gave meaning and direction to my career path as an HR professional.
My deep commitment to the benefits of volunteerism arose from witnessing how skilled volunteering can transform lives and enrich communities. I formed long-lasting relationships with amazing mentors, co-volunteers and local communities which helped me carve my people oriented career trajectory and inclusive leadership style. This commitment to volunteering originated in my role as the Board Member for Immigrant Advisory Council. Later on, when I secured the Vancouver Foundation grants for small community building projects, I came up with a transformative project idea to set up “mini-libraries” across Burnaby in partnership with Burnaby Association of Community Inclusion, City of Burnaby and Artists Helping Artists. For me, the essence behind the project was to create increasing connections between people living in different neighbourhoods across the city. The project was truly inclusive considering the diverse people who became involved in the project as well as the enthusiasm of the community partners. Meaningful volunteering thus became a natural calling, for I had seen the sense of purpose and belonging it created for one and all without any exclusion or bias.
In life, I have found myself in situations where I had to dig deep and find solutions to overcome complex challenges that I faced as a person of colour, a professional immigrant woman, and a single mom. I did so by believing in my abilities and by leveraging resources; by bringing an objective lens when reviewing a situation; and by communicating to others the value I found in their perspectives. Also, by meeting different people and observing diverse human emotions and human behaviours, I developed an intellectual and emotional intelligence that has equipped me to create safe inclusive spaces where people thrive and engage in rewarding opportunities.
These lived experiences and their transference to Volunteerism, People Management, and Relationship Building is what I bring to Vantage Point as its People Manager. I strongly value and identify with Vantage Point’s mission of lifting the capacity of our not-for-profit sector by strategically investing in and utilizing our most valued asset: “our people”. My strengths of turning scarcity into possibility and challenges into opportunity permeates every aspect of my role here. Our transformational model of people engagement has empowered me to nurture and generate reciprocal relationships and strong community partnerships. Having craved for connections, for a chance to use my abilities, and to work with like-minded people towards creating solutions, I constantly endeavour to create a culture at Vantage point where everyone feels welcomed, connected, and respected. Given my work and contributions at Vantage Point, I know that I look back with pride and move forward with a purpose!
Shagun Bhanot, PHD, CPHR
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