Aimee Rieck is a human resources consultant with over nine years’ experience in the field. She received her undergraduate degree in law and political science from York University, expecting to go into law before making the change to HR. The decision to change fields came after a year of work experience in a law firm where Aimee was able to weigh what truly motivated her.
Finding herself drawn to employer/employee relations, Aimee enrolled in a post graduate program that specifically delved into human resource strategies and practices. Following completion of this certificate, she entered the field where she felt she could do her best work. She later continued her education, receiving a master’s degree in HR and Industrial Relations through Queens University, while continuing to work full time simultaneously.
For the last year, Aimee has been consulting with businesses on their HR strategies, providing her expertise to those who need it. After much consideration, Aimee has decided to return to the workforce as an in-house employee. She is currently seeking a position as Director of Human Resources.
In her free time, Aimee enjoys physical activities like skiing and jogging.
How did you get started in this business and what inspired you to start this business?
When I finished university, I was actually looking to get into law school. I had taken a year off and was working with a law firm during that time. I started looking at the aspects of the job and I narrowed down the specific aspects that I liked about being a lawyer. I found that I really enjoyed dealing with employee relations and employment law. I was also more drawn to business relations. I found that law was maybe not the best fit for me and started looking more towards human resources as a possible career choice. I applied to the George Brown College post graduate certificate program. I completed the program within the year and began working in the HR field soon after.
How do you make money?
When I am working for an employer, whether as a consultant or as their in-house human resource contact, I look at what the company is trying to achieve. I take that information and build out a strategy that provides alignment and cohesion with those goals. I will look at areas for cost savings or better efficiency within current strategies. I will present any solutions I come up with to the owners and/or executive teams and advise them of the pros and cons. I believe in creating as much streamlined strategies as we can. For example, some companies will look to outside resources for recruitment or legal services. If I can find a way to bring those in house, it can generate noticeable cost savings to the company.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Early on, just entering the field, I was primarily doing administrative duties. Once I had advanced and gained more exposure to the different facets of human resources, I was able to identify areas of cost improvements. When I began presenting these ideas, I began to advance more in my career. I would say it took two to three years in the field for me to start being more profitable.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When I was attending George Brown, there were a few times when I questioned whether going back to school was the right choice. I was taking time off from work and paying out of pocket for school. I spent some time considering whether the profit loss plus educational cost would be worth it for me. Being exposed to the curriculum that was within the specific scope of human resources helped me to realize that the education was definitely worth it. I chose to stick with it and ended up enjoying it. Looking back, I know it was certainly the right choice and I am happy that I did choose to complete the program.
How did you get your first customer?
In this field, our customers are the employers. You are the liaison between them and the employees. You have to serve both parties from a neutral and impartial perspective. When it comes down to making a decision between what an employee is looking for and the objective of the employer, you more so tend to lean towards the employer’s positioning, but it really depends on the matter at hand. It is their company and they are essentially the client who is paying you. Whatever practices you are putting into place has to align with what the employer is looking for, in alignment with the overall corporate strategy.
What is one marketing strategy, other than referrals, that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We are in the era of social media and it is becoming more prevalent and important for business. Using LinkedIn and other online networking avenues is a great tool to make personal and professional connections. I also attend industry events, meeting new people and building up a network, which is an excellent resource.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I am looking for a new position right now. For the last year, I have been working from home running my own consulting business. A couple months ago, I hit a crossroads where I needed to decide what I wanted to do. Did I want to continue to grow my own business, finding different avenues of sourcing new business or determine if I would be more inclined to look for an in-house position for a direct employer? I did a lot of back and forth and weighed the pros and cons. I came to the decision to look for a full-time position with an employer. The variety of work that consulting offers is great, but you find yourself questioning yourself more because you are only seeing a portion of their business. When you are an in-house employee, you’re exposed to everything and have a more holistic view. I feel you are able to make more educated and fact based decisions in that capacity.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe having the formal education has helped my success. I also feel that being professional and persistent has helped me a great deal. Being young and entering the workforce in a professional capacity, you are fighting a little against the bias of being so new. You have to be in the field a couple years and gain some practical work experience to really see that your ideas are being taken more seriously. I never let that interfere with my ability to persuade an employer or client to see the benefits of my ideas. It also helps with career growth because the more you prove you can make the right choices and implement them, the more opportunities you will be given.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There have been a few. There are a few large-scale projects that I have worked on and seeing the results of a successful process is very satisfying for me. Seeing something grow from a concept or idea to an actual implemented policy or program is a great feeling. A good example of this is a time when we were implementing a new HR information system, which was a huge benefit to the company. It took several months to complete, and I was a part of it every step of the way. When the project was complete, I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
What does the future hold for your business and what are you most excited about?
I am most excited about getting back into an organization and working in house for an employer. I have always worked alongside the owner or president of the business and I miss that aspect. I look forward to getting back into a company and being able to support them.
What business books have inspired you?
Daniel Pink wrote a book called Drive, which talks about where we are as a global economy today and how we need to change the way we are motivating employees to be more profitable and successful organizations. I found it very relevant and inspiring. I also really enjoyed Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, which discusses the importance of networking within your field and your organization.
What is a recent purchase you’ve made that has helped with your business?
If I had chosen to continue to work on my own business, I had been planning to have a website created for me. That would have been necessary in that capacity. Since I have chosen to look for an in-house position, I have not moved forward with it.