Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Sophia Gordon: 'Camparista' born to lead

Published:Monday | March 6, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Sophia Gordon
Sophia Gordon
Sophia Gordon
Sophia Gordon
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Even as a child Sophia Gordon knew she wanted to work with people. Today, her wish is a reality. As the Regional Director for Gruppo Campari's Production Supply Chain (PSC) Division for the North America region comprising Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, she interacts with numerous persons from all backgrounds and different cultures every day.

"At first, it was not clear how I would work with people and I considered careers in journalism and law," Gordon admitted to Flair. However, upon entering the University West Indies (UWI), she soon decided on a bachelor of arts degree in English Literatures, a choice that is typically associated with a career in teaching. But to Gordon it represented the first rung on the ladder to just about any profession. "Such a degree entailed lots of reading, writing and analysis. It forces you to think outside of the box, see many perspectives and sometimes see them all at once" said Gordon. Thereafter, she earned her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership, respectively.

Her relationship with JWN/Campari began in 2007 after a five-year stint at the Ministry of National Security as director of human resources. Gordon was recruited by Lascelles deMercado/JWN to head its Learning Centre. She moved quickly up the ranks expanding her portfolio to incorporate the full suite of HR services for the Group's office.

"Moving from the public to private sector, I had to be a quick study learning the nuances of Lascelles deMercado, while adapting quickly to the changes. I learnt a lot during the deMercado/JWN era, especially when I reported directly to the Group Managing Director," Gordon told Flair.

Speaking about her development, Gordon said "since 2012 I have benefitted enormously both personally and professionally from my relationship with JWN/Campari. Campari invests heavily in its people, and I have benefitted from their training in leadership development, talent management and organisation development."

"In my former role as HR Director, Jamaica, I was exposed to Campari's international cutting edge HR practices and in my present role, I have been exposed to international cross-cultural HR practices," Gordon told Flair.

 

EXTREMELY GRATEFUL

 

These experiences have been both humbling and strengthening for the seasoned HR practitioner and she is extremely grateful for the opportunities. Gordon gets satisfaction from the fact that Campari focuses largely on its brands and people.

"We 'premiumise' our brands and our people through our unique HR practices such as our people managers programmes, annual leadership conventions, talent review processes, or learning academies for marketing, sales and more."

Describing herself as a proud "Camparista", Gordon said she is passionate about creating value and contributing to return on equity. With more than 16 years in human resources, mostly at the senior level, Gordon says it's hard to envision being in any other career.

The role is not without its down-side and the HR director's role calls for managing job separation. Gordon says the key to this is to balance the needs of the organisation and the needs of the exiting employee. "Effective HR practitioners genuinely like people and are able to understand their pain. They are able to leverage this understanding when handling a separation. I ask myself if this were me, how would I want to be treated'. The answers are always with respect, dignity, and authenticity."

Considerations should be given to the next steps for the exiting employee. Solutions include outplacement services for retooling exiting employees and contracting external experts to help the handling of grief.

In the next 10-20 years, Gordon sees herself continuing to learn how to be an employee of the world. She envisions herself still in the field of human resources and organisational leadership but perhaps more within a consultancy model.

When not working Gordon enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and jogging, listening music, viewing works of art, and visiting museums. She recently developed an affinity to Jean Pearson's and Alphanso Blake's works of art.

Gordon advises budding HR practitioners to "get as much training in soft and people related skills as possible. Try to align yourself with an organisation that has similar values to your own and be devoted to continuous learning.

Continuing Gordon said "sharpen your HR edge by joining your professional associations, read extensively about the field and identify the trends (for both HR and organizations in general) so that you can create value for the organisation that you work with."