People Analytics Summit Speaker Interview: Anna Filice, City of Hamilton

The People Analytics Summit in Toronto is fast-approaching. Ahead of the Nov 2-3 event, we got a chance to interview one of the awesome speakers, Anna Filice, Director, HR Systems & Operations, City of Hamilton.

Tell us about yourself – your company and your role there.

I’m an HR Professional with experience in various industries including retail, education, manufacturing, and government. In my Director HR Systems & Operations role I oversee multiple functions including, Rewards (Benefits, Compensation), HR Records Administration, Organizational Development & Learning, HR Technology, and HR Analytics.

The HR analytics function was effectively a start-up in 2014 under my leadership and has evolved rapidly in the last 3 ½ years. Some of my key objectives are to deliver programs and services to build organizational capacity and engagement & leverage technology to effectively deliver services and engage with the workforce.


What does an average work week look like for you?

They never look the same! I try to focus my time in 3 ways. The first is stakeholder engagement. Most of the projects I lead have organization wide impact and so it’s critical for me to understand needs and ensure the alignment and buy-in is there. This is typically achieved through formal and informal communication and tactical change management strategies. The second is planning. Much of the transformational work that my team supports is project based so having clear plans and objectives helps us to succeed. Third, spending time with my staff to offer supports and brainstorm solutions or new innovative ways of doing things. Somewhere in there I also try to get some work done!


What is the topic you’ll be talking about at the People Analytics Summit and why does it matter to HR and leaders?

Zac Nichol and I will be speaking on 2 topics. On the first day of the conference, we will run a half-day workshop on no or low-cost strategies to build your HR analytics Program. This topic is important to leaders (especially those who are in the early stages of their analytics program).

In the first year of the City’s Analytics program, Zac and I attended this same conference and listened to a presentation from Nasa. It was a true turning point for us. Prior to the conference, I had limited myself to thinking that our internal IT department or a software product was the only solution to our program needs. What I learned was that there are ways to rapidly meet some key business objectives and demonstrate the value of your analytics program while you simultaneously working with IT and vendors to build a long term solution. We immediately went back to the office to brainstorm how we could work in those 2 streams and immediately experienced some early success. Starting an analytics function can be daunting. There are always data issues, resource and budget constraints but this workshop provides some information on how to incrementally move things forward while planning for the future.

The second presentation we will give is on the importance of visualization. Presenting data in a way that engages your audience and in a way that is easy to understand is critical – the data is not useful if no one understands it so we will chat about some visualization techniques and strategies to help HR Leaders to tell their stories.


There’s an enormous amount of investment going into the tech scene in Toronto at the moment. Why is Toronto’s business tech sector booming?

Toronto and Southern Ontario in general, I believe, have a lot to offer in this space and the foundation to build on. We offer diverse, livable communities, cost of living is great compared to places like New York, Boston(traditionally a hotbed of analytics), San Francisco and the Bay area. Additionally, we are surrounded by some remarkable institutions like Mohawk College, McMaster University (recently ranked among the top 100 schools in the world), as well as, Ryerson, University of Waterloo, and Guelph who offer partnership opportunities and who produce the talent needed to sustain the industry. I also think the government is doing a better job of offering incentives for start-ups and small businesses to support this growth.


What’s changing in talent analytics?

For me, talent analytics is still in its infancy in most organizations and the uptake is slow so I see it as emerging rather than changing. I think we are at a place where leaders see the value but our programs and systems have not caught up yet. There is a great opportunity because of that. Investment is needed to mature programs and systems to a place where we can deliver analytics to make data-driven talent decisions. We can’t lose the human side though. That will always be there. The change management component of the analytics evolution can be as challenging as the systems component and requires as much attention. It’s never too early to build and sell the value proposition of your analytics program to your stakeholders. Data gives much more visibility into operational and talent issues than ever before and that can be uncomfortable for some people.


Tell us how machine learning and AI is opening up new channels to understand the world of work.

I think the opportunity for rapid insights through AI is incredible. In many large organizations gathering basic data around simple things like overtime or absence can be a long and arduous task. The ability to have data available and analyzed, and providing predictive analysis– all at the click of a button enables faster decision making and a more responsive workforce.


Any product or service releases coming soon from your company which you’d like to highlight to our audience?

We have made a commitment to consider analytics (outputs) as part of any new system implementation at the design phase to ensure that we get the outputs we need once a system or module is implemented or enhanced. For example, in a recent implementation of our new recruiting software a business process analysis was conducted to determine what the new process would be and which data points we would want to capture at each phase of the process.

Having said that, what I’m most excited about is a new HR Portal solution which we are currently building in partnership with one of our vendors. The City has some unique challenges with our diverse workforce, many of whom do not have access to a City-issued device and who can’t even access our intranet.

We are currently building a downloadable application which can be accessed by any employee’s personal device (Mobile, tablet or desktop). The portal will offer a one-stop shop for all employee HR needs, including self-service features, built-in workflows and HR content (Policies, forms Etc). It will offer the opportunity to engage with staff through 2-way communication features like push notifications and pulse surveys. Of course, the tool will have built-in analytics which will monitor user behaviour and provide us with key insights about the information and functionality staff want most so we can continue to tailor our services to meet their needs. It’s part of the overall engagement and service delivery strategy where we strive to brand HR as accessible and responsive to our client needs.


How can our readers learn more about you?

Connect with me on LinkedIn!'

Author: Editor

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