As told to Ben Surby
Maintaining a balance between life and work can be hectic in its own right, but when you add in a role with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) it takes a special commitment.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) was recently honoured with a provincial award from the CAF for its commitment to supporting reservists who work in the military at home and abroad in addition to their employment with AHS. Currently, there are about 100 AHS staff members who enjoy the flexibility AHS provides as they pursue military training and deployment.
We spoke to Rob Caswell, a Senior Advisor for Human Resources (HR) Business Partnerships at AHS and Officer with the CAF about his career, experiences, and advice for anyone who wants to follow his path.
I’m currently dedicated to a project that relates to the Essential Services legislation in Alberta, which changes the collective bargaining process by removing Alberta’s ban on strikes and lockout for public sector (union) employees, including those working in healthcare. With my team, we contemplate, build, and review the anticipated processes AHS will require to manage the essential services program in order to maintain essential healthcare services. It’s a lot of collaboration between departments and the various stakeholders, and within the team itself.
Certainly the people – I’ve always been fortunate to work with some incredible professionals, and this current team is no exception. I also enjoy the variety of work this position offers, along with how much we get to learn as HR professionals about the clinical and non-clinical operations of AHS.
I wanted to contribute to public healthcare, though I’m not a clinician by any stretch of the imagination. I was also drawn to the internal opportunities. AHS is a unique and complex organization, and in my six years here, I have been exposed to and worked on various items both within and outside the scope of HR.
In addition to his regular duties for AHS, Rob trains and mentors youth enrolled in Air Cadets.
I’m an officer in the Cadet Instructors Cadre branch, so my role is all about the support and delivery of the Canadian Cadet Program. On weeknights, thousands of cadets in Alberta train in leadership, physical fitness, and specific activities such as aviation, maritime history, and expeditions. My job is as the Area Elemental Advisor for Southern Alberta, so I get to help local cadet Corps and Squadrons with running their programs, as well as help them celebrate successes in their communities.
Both the CAF and AHS are complex organizations in the public service, and both employ a diverse and unique workforce. The experience I have received in each organization has helped me in the other, particularly around working with people and collaborating to achieve a mission.
AHS has been a fantastic supporter of my CAF career and has recognized the benefit of developing both. I’ve been fortunate to have some flexible scheduling, and even flexible sites if I need to be somewhere other than Calgary.
Get involved! If it be with your community or your profession, there are countless volunteer opportunities that may turn into something more. In my experience at AHS, there have been many opportunities to be involved in work that has not been entirely HR-focused, and that experience has made me a better practitioner.
Rob is a Senior Advisor for HR Business Partnerships. He has recently taken up running and alternates between training for 10k races and half marathons. He also spends time with his wife and three kids, exploring Calgary and Alberta.
Provincial award lauds freedom given healthcare staff to pursue military training.