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The Importance of Investing in People

An Interview With Karen Scanlan

Karen Scanlan is the Director of People Operations at 1QBit. While working as an editor for a legal publication, she became interested in the employment side of human rights, which led her to an HR consulting firm. There, she learned the importance of hiring the best talent and then keeping that talent through engagement, development, and recognition.

"I firmly believe that people want to do a good job, want to learn, and want to contribute. Our job is to find ways to make it as easy as possible to accomplish that at 1QBit."

Beyond hiring employees, a People Operations team is crucial to humanizing a business and investing in each individual in a company. Recently, it has been a challenge for companies everywhere to maintain productivity while ensuring the well-being of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The People Operations team at 1QBit was instrumental in successfully transitioning employees to remote work during the pandemic.

We sat down with Karen to learn more about her role at 1QBit and what it has been like transitioning to a distributed workforce.

How did you end up at 1QBit?

I’ve had my eye on Vancouver and the tech sector for some time. When a recruiter called me to tell me about 1QBit, she said, “I think they need you, and you need them!” Wasn’t that the truth!

What are you currently working on?

It’s been an exciting and fast-paced year for our People Operations team. We managed to launch a performance management system, total compensation, a reward system, and career development during the pandemic. We also transitioned to a distributed workforce and had a significant amount of growth and expansion. We were able to accomplish it all internally through close collaboration with our leadership team. For me, it’s been one of the most rewarding years of my career.


Karen working from home in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What excites you about your work?

I work with a team of intelligent, engaged, and committed employees. Our leaders are entirely devoted to their people. Any change or implementation from our department needs to be well-considered from the perspective of employee impact. If it doesn't, our teams will let us know! They keep us honest and provide us with the support and input we need to be successful. I was also fortunate to have pulled together a stellar team of HR professionals who have been critical in building a solid reputation for our department.

Do you have an analogy to help us understand your work?

I love the analogy of a house. Our teams reside in the house, doing the necessary planning, thinking, and dreaming of fulfilling 1QBit’s purpose. The People Operations Team helps build the frame of the house, ensuring our teams have the security, safety and coverage, so they are successful, motivated, and engaged.

Why is your work important?

We have placed a very strong focus on recognition and retention. 1QBit has a long history of hiring interns, often through our MITACS partners, who eventually join full-time. Many of our senior leaders started as interns. Because of the innovative work we do, we attract a very high calibre of talent. Once we get that talent on board, it’s everyone’s job to ensure they want to stay! I believe the mission of the People Operations team is to help our leaders create an environment where people feel rewarded, recognized, and challenged. We make sure that happens through the systems we have implemented, like regular 1:1s with our team members, career planning, and performance-based rewards.


Karen exploring British Columbia.

What is the unique perspective (e.g. culture, gender, age, etc.) that you bring to your work, and how has that contributed to your success?

I’ve been in HR most of my career. I have an MSc in International HR and have worked in various sectors as a Senior HR Leader. While the challenges for HR are often similar across industries, I regularly remind my team that 1QBit is special. From an HR perspective, I know from experience that it is rare to have the support and backing we do from our executive team and our leaders’ commitment to fulfilling our mission. I firmly believe that people want to do a good job, want to learn, and want to contribute. Our job is to find ways to make it as easy as possible to accomplish that at 1QBit.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am outside as often as possible. I’m new enough to BC that I am still shocked by our proximity to mountains, ocean, and forests. And I marvel at the fact that I can cycle one day and ski the next.


Thank you for sharing your story with us, Karen. It was a pleasure learning about you.

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