At Van Kam, we feel that our key advantage in the shipping industry is our extraordinary employees. They are the cornerstone of our daily operations and the driving force behind our commitment to exceptional customer service. Tasked to finding such ideal candidates to work with us is the sole responsibility of our HR department, led by the dynamic duo of Melanie Evans (left in photo) and Alana Henry – both recently promoted to new roles.
Hired initially as our Human Resources Manager, Melanie has been with Van Kam since 2015. This past June, she was recently appointed as our Director of Human Resources. In this newly created position, she focuses on organizational planning and implementing proactive measures to address the overall needs of our current and future HR resources.
“The HR department is always bustling, and there’s an extensive list of daily duties to perform as Director of HR,” says Melanie when asked about the details of her new role. “Essentially, I oversee the HR department and ensure that all our internal policies and government regulations are current and correctly implemented. Balancing all these details per Van Kam’s strategic objectives is paramount to the success of our HR department and employees.”
Melanie quickly notes that with such an emphasis on Van Kam’s commitment to its people (it’s the first “P” in our Vision Statement), the support and teamwork from her colleagues is a key component contributing to a successful outcome.
“It lets me know we’re all in this together…”
“To me, it’s the real difference-maker. I love working at Van Kam because of the people. It’s a two-way street. The main focus of my job is to support all types of staff, from ownership to employees. The level of cooperation and support all my colleagues reciprocate is a special feeling. It lets me know that we’re all in this together, and we all want to be successful – it’s what I enjoy most about working at Van Kam.”
Promoted in June from Human Resource Generalist to Human Resources Manager, Alana Henry takes over some of Melanie’s previous responsibilities. She also manages Linda Bvekerwa, our new HR/Payroll Administrator, who will be taking over some of Alana’s previous responsibilities.
The chances are that if you’ve been hired at Van Kam over the past few years, Alana has been one of your first points of contact. She’s our central representative during the interview stage to your first day of onboarding.
“I’m actively engaged in full-cycle recruitment,” says Alana regarding the primary function of her new role. “That’s everything from creating job descriptions about new career openings to performing interviews and onboarding new employees. I’m also ensuring that potential employees are a match with Van Kam’s values and that they feel comfortable through every step of the hiring process.”
In addition to working alongside Melanie to keep our HR policies current, Alana spearheads many internal company initiatives relating to employee health & wellness and work performance. There are also quite a few external programs that Alana is involved in that contribute to the health and wellbeing of the communities where Van Kam operates.
“It’s very admirable and inspiring…”
“One of the favourite things about my job is also being the Co-Director of Charities and Donations,” says Alana. “I enjoy working with the various charity groups that we sponsor. I’m constantly meeting new people in these organizations whose sole purpose is to make our communities a better place for those less fortunate… it’s very admirable and inspiring to be partnering with them.”
With the hectic pace of the HR department, both Alana and Melanie feel it’s always helpful to have a sense of humour and a bit of fun. “Working with Alana – we jokingly refer to ourselves as The Dream Team,” says Melanie.
Alana notes that working with Melanie is also a lot of fun and that her sense of humour makes the rigours of the day much easier to tackle. She is quick to point out that happiness is contagious in the HR department. “The latest addition to our HR team, Linda, our new HR/Payroll Admin, is always up for a good laugh too!”
Not surprisingly, just as their senses of humour match, these two ladies also cite similar activities during their spare time.
As weekend warriors, both ladies enjoy heading outdoors to partake in various fitness activities like biking and hiking. They also have pets to accompany them whenever possible. “My dog Kingston comes hiking with me whenever possible,” says Alana.
“I call them my fur kids,” jokes Melanie. “I have two dogs and one cat.”
Just like many of us did over the past year and a half, Melanie took on new hobbies and interests. “During the pandemic, I made some crazy decisions. I got a kitten, a puppy… and, oh yeah… I picked up dirt biking and ATV’ing as a hobby.”
Needless to say, the writer of this story thinks his “pet rock collection” pales in comparison to Melanie’s dirty new hobby!