An Ode to the HR Business Partner

We recently dug up this post from a few years back (2 to be exact) from Tayissa Tykajlo - current Senior Recruiter with Aritiza  & guest writer for Talent Lab. In this post, she explores the important relationship between Recruiter and HR Business Partner. In the best of cases this partnership forms an unstoppable force that elevates the employee experience and benefits the company tremendously.

Forward by: Tess Sloane, Talent Lab

Within my career working in the realm of in-house talent acquisition I have (somewhat begrudgingly) come to acknowledge that the recruiting function cannot operate in a silo. That’s right. The recruiter does not (and should not) get all the credit for that “fantastic” hire. To make a successful hire we recruiters must partner with, and leverage, the expertise of multiple other functions: the hiring manager, compensation and finance, relocation and immigration specialists, and last but certainly not least, our HR operations and business partner counterparts. The successful recruit, from role kick-off to the final signed offer, stems from a healthy communicative marriage between the recruiter and the HR Operations (or HRBP) team. As such, I wanted to dig into this partnership a little more, and I decided to connect over coffee and questioning with an Ops teammate to hear more about life within HR through her lens. Let me introduce to you an HRBP here at Kit and Ace who consistently blows me away with her strategic and communicative approach to the Recruiter/HRBP partnership.

Hello, Lenka Tutnjevic.

Let’s set this interview (basically a journalistic first date) up for success and get to know each other a little more. Tell me about your career trajectory. How did you get into a generalist/ HR business partner role?

HR is actually something I fell into. I studied psychology at university and thought I would always go into elementary school teaching, but changed my mind very close to the end of my degree. My first job was working as a restaurant manager doing a lot of hiring, training and payroll support. This was my first intro to HR and from there I thought this is something I want to pursue further. I then went on to pursue my HR certification.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a career in HR?

For people who are getting started in HR, I recommend being open to doing a more generalist role and exploring all different facets of HR before deciding what areas you would like to specialize in. There are multiple avenues you could take within a career in HR, so see where your strengths lie and where you can add the most value and then go from there. HR encompasses so much, and it is great to get your hands wet with multiple projects before deciding on a specialization path.

What has been one of the biggest turning points within your career?

A big turning point was jumping from a coordinator/ generalist role into a more strategic business partner role. This is quite a different shift in work, and involved an adjustment curve from being told the strategy to determining it yourself. As a business partner, you are directly responsible for the strategy, and with this also comes full accountability and ownership of its impacts on the business.

What is your favorite part about being a strategic partner in HR?

My favorite part would be having input into the long-term vision and planning for our team and our business. I get to work on such interesting projects and really have a hand in creating these initiatives from scratch and seeing them through to execution. This could look like QPR programs, global benefits planning, or onboarding and training programs. It is exciting to see the transformation from the initial brainstorming stages to witnessing these initiatives being accepted by all employees and utilized across the company.  

Did you ever have any interest in going into recruitment specifically?

Recruitment had always been a part of my job, as I had previously worked for smaller employers that did not have a focused recruitment department. That being said, my passion has always been on the operational side of HR. I am both structural and analytical, and drawn to things that can be seen as more black and white- I have a strong interest in building out global benefits and compensation initiatives.

What is important to consider for a successful recruiter/ HRBP partnership?

I think regular and open lines of communication are crucial. So many things can change in a short time, and if we are not keeping each other updated on the needs of the business, we can diverge onto different action paths. We should always be speaking with the same voice when we speak to our business partners.

Employer branding and “culture”: who should be leading the charge on this initiative? Recruiters or HR Ops?

Everyone should be leading the charge on this. It can’t be just one department or one group. I think every single role in HR has this responsibility, regardless of the title- training, operations or recruitment. It is owned and championed by all.

I am continuously hearing more about the importance of EQ within corporate performance. How do you see EQ playing into your role as an HR professional?

It plays a huge factor because you have to be able to relate to the people you are supporting. All of our employees are essentially our customers- we advocate for them and do what’s best for them. If an HR professional doesn’t have the ability to empathize or see other points of views, it would be challenging to support the people within the organization and truly understand their needs.

I am also hearing so much about the benefits that balance and mindfulness in one’s routine can bring to overall well being and productivity. What is a daily ritual that sets you up for success?

Throughout the day my brain is filled with to-dos, but I make a point of going to bed relatively early, and giving myself an hour to focus on things I want to do- reading, quiet time, and overall “me” time. This is my time to help me fall asleep and truly recharge myself for the next day. Time to unwind and a restful sleep are both so important for my daily routine.

Do you have a hard time turning off your work? How do you separate your work life from your personal/family life?

I love what I do and the impact that I have at Kit and Ace, and on my drive home I often process the day. While I do sporadically check my emails after work, once I get home I make an intention to focus on my family life and close the book on the workday. I love my job, but I don’t live to work- my family life and personal life are still very important to me.

10 years from now, what will your life look like?               

I think I would love to get back to my teaching roots and perhaps teach at a university level. My ideal career ten years from now would be working less than full time but still being able to help people and share my HR expertise and the learnings I’ve had within my career. Right now, to prepare me for this goal I am taking on projects that allow me to practice my facilitation and audience engagement skills, such as rolling out QRP training to all employees here at Kit and Ace.

What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned within your career?

I’ve learned that it’s okay to push the “go” button or execute something even though it may only be 90% done. My inclination has always been to be 100% certain before I push something out, but with timing and the needs of our business currently, we do not always have this luxury with the pace we are moving. You have to be okay with doing that- roll it out at the 90% mark, and then focus on the 10% after.

You are an avid traveler and have experienced multiple cultures in your upbringing. Are there any specific locations you dream of working in?

Yes. I grew up in Europe but I moved away at a young age and didn’t get to experience the work culture there, which I would love to do. I hear a lot about the focus on work-life balance within many European countries, and I would love to firsthand experience this cultural perspective. My work career has been very North American focused, and I would love to see what the fuss is all about across the ocean.

Final Q for you- let’s talk buzz words. How do you authentically define a “healthy and thriving corporate culture”?

To me it simply means employees who love what they do. They love coming to work every day, and love the contribution they have within your organization. It is that simple. This is what creates a thriving and happy culture.


Tayissa Tykajlo, Corporate Recruiter at Aritzia. Endlessly curious, book hoarder, kitty owner, yoga lover and always game for some exploration paired with a healthy glass of wine.