It is not every day that your career comes full circle, and you get to return to the place where it all began.
For Marnie Wright, that place is the University of Saskatchewan (USask). Originally from Conquest, Sask., USask’s new associate vice-president of people and chief human resource officer is also a proud alumna.
Wright went on to earn her master’s in organizational development and worked for 14 years in Human Resources (HR) as a Senior HR Advisor at British Columbia Institute of Technology. It was there that she had the opportunity to focus on and perfect her craft.
“Once I found the alignment of my talents and my interests my career really became easy,” said Wright.
In the following years, Wright continued to build her career as associate superintendent of HR Abbotsford School District, and then associate vice-president of HR at the University of the Fraser Valley.
“I’ve really enjoyed working in the education sector,” said Wright. “Being a sessional faculty member at Thompson Rivers University for 21 years has helped my role in human resources. I have an understanding of how amazing and challenging it can be to teach.”
Understanding the people she works with is one of Wright’s best assets. There are a lot of diverse types of human resource practitioners, but for Wright it is all about the people.
“My focus is about the employees and creating a rich environment for them to succeed in,” she said. “It’s critical that employees want to come to work, that they feel safe and respected, and that they can advance their career,” said Wright. “My favourite part of the job is seeing someone meet their career goals.”
In her new role, Wright plans to give back.
“I’m just so honoured to serve USask after everything that it has provided for my career. I’m hoping to do an excellent job,” said Wright.
As she gets to know the university again, she knows one thing to be true: all employees seek and deserve clarity.
“It’s important that people know what they are working towards,” said Wright. “Every position is filled with individuals with aspirations – they have ideas, and listening and working alongside people is the ticket to a highly productive team. Leaders are no longer the sole architects of solutions. Now we look to the whole team for solutions.”
For Wright, it is also critical to not just learn about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, but to do the work.
“There are also lots of really exciting ways that we can incorporate Indigenization into our processes,” Wright explained. “I’m looking forward to getting to know my team and explore some of this.”
So far, USask is living up to her fond memories.
“It’s exactly as I expected,” said Wright. “Everyone is so warm and welcoming. I’ve never forgotten USask, in fact some of my best friends are fellow alumni.”
Those connections have been important to Wright throughout her time at USask and career.
When Wright first moved to British Columbia, she connected with the alumni group there and started going to football games. Soon a cohort of Saskatchewan friends was established, and they have been attending Roughrider games ever since. Wright also stayed in touch with many of the friends she made while living in Seager Wheeler Hall residence.
“I was maybe one of two Canadian students who lived there all the time,” said Wright. “I made so many connections and was exposed to new cultures, it has fueled my love of travel as I went to visit many of my friends in their home countries.”
In addition to travel, Wright’s other passion is taking in the opera.
“My roommate in Seagar Wheeler was a famous Chinese opera singer, and she would sing ballads in my room,” said Wright. “The experiences I had living at Seager Wheeler where just as formative as the classes I was taking.”
“It’s incredible to see what has changed on campus,” Wright added. “I’m really looking forward to exploring the campus. We are incredibly lucky to work here. It’s a privilege to serve the university.”
Wright began her role on November 6, 2023, and her partner John, her stepson Nick, and the family dog Sam, a chocolate lab, will be making the trek to join her in Saskatoon in the spring.