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Tech Tales - Women's Edition

Michelle Preston

Director of HR, Kira Systems

Can you tell us some personal background that shaped your story so far?

I am a twin and being so has very much shaped who I am today. Having a twin offers a unique opportunity to both understand what it's like to always have to share experiences with another but also the importance of independence and carving out an identity for yourself. We were born in downtown Toronto at Mount Sinai. Despite being born in the "big city", I am very much a small town woman as I grew up in Haliburton, Ontario. Growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone really taught me the importance of community and treating others with kindness. I also learned to love being outdoors and exploring nature - I am happiest when I am outside soaking in how beautiful the world is in which we live.

What did you do before your current career or role?

I have been working in the HR world for almost 10 years now. I completed an undergraduate program in HR at the University of Waterloo and then went on to the University of Toronto to finish the Masters of Industrial Relations and Human Resources program. Upon graduation I found myself working in the tech/software space and haven't looked back. I love how in order to survive in this space, you have to be continuously moving. It's challenging, but being challenged is what motivates me.

Describe your current job.

Now I am the first Director of HR at Kira Systems and I am tasked with building out effective programs which will help employees be more successful in their roles as we continue to grow at a very rapid pace.

While I am relatively new to the role, I have found I have already been given the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.

By having a role in making work as positive and meaningful as possible for employees, I like to think I am making a direct impact on their day to day lives.

How or why did you get started doing this?

There are many reasons I chose HR. Most notably however would be the fact that I am faced with an enormous variety of responsibilities/activities to participate in every day. One day I can be heads down analyzing data and trends while the next, my time can be filled with back to back meetings with employees and managers.

Also, I find people SO interesting. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I knew that a career in HR would very much satisfy my desire to interact with all different types of people on a regular basis.

What is your favorite part of your work?

Nowadays, many companies view HR as a strategic partner with the power to truly impact the success of the overall business. It's really meaningful for me to be invited to the "table" to share my knowledge and ideas and partner with senior leaders to ensure that Kira is a great place to work.

Also, I really believe the feelings people experience at work can roll over into other areas of their lives. By having a role in making work as positive and meaningful as possible for employees, I like to think I am making a direct impact on their day to day lives.

Describe a moment you are proudest of in your career.

I am a big fan of checking off items on my to-do list. However, when I look back on my career it isn't the "what" I have accomplished in which I am so proud. It is much more the "who". I have been able to build very strong relationships with all types of people in which they feel comfortable sharing with me everything from their deepest fears to their proudest moments. I truly feel so grateful that people are willing to open up to me and turn to me as a trusted source of HR knowledge and experience.