Annika Lofstrand, BA’92
Annika currently resides in White Rock, BC, and is a partner in Leda HR Consulting. Upon graduation and before deciding to pursue a career in human resources, she worked in a variety of industries. Read about how Annika focused on finding clarity within her career and worked alongside her business partner to reinvent Leda HR to focus more on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
Tell us about your role. What are your main responsibilities? Who do you work with?
I am a partner in, and co-creator of, Leda HR. My business partner and I are Human Resource (HR) professionals who look at our work and how we support clients through an EDI lens. Whether we are conducting a comprehensive diversity and inclusion audit or providing training around inclusive leadership and employee engagement, we approach partnerships without judgement. We have always believed that diverse, inclusive, respectful, and welcoming workplaces are what every organization — regardless of size or sector — should be striving toward.
What are some of the key steps you took in the beginning of your career that you believe really helped to move your career forward?
For my BA, I studied Political Science and Anthropology with the intention of pursuing a career in law. The courses I took at UBC in cultural anthropology ended up being a great foundation for working in EDI, although I did not know it would be at the time. I soon realized that law was not necessarily what I wanted to do so, after graduation, I decided to work a series of contract positions in a range of sectors, including hospitality, film, healthcare, and HR in post-secondary institutions and other industries. This is when I found that there was something about the employee experience and workplace culture that I was fascinated with. It is only in hindsight that I have been able to make a meaningful connection between what I studied (political systems and structures, and cultural anthropology or social structures) to the work I do now.
Describe a time when you felt unsure of how or where to begin your career journey.
After graduation and deciding not to pursue a law degree, I really wasn’t too sure where I wanted to begin my career journey. The various (and varied!) contract roles I held helped me build a lot of experience and perspective. I spent six or seven years working full-time, then went back to school as a mature student to formalize my education in HR. I found or confirmed my “red thread” as Marcus Buckingham speaks about. For me, it was identifying and owning what ‘lights me up’ and working toward this being an integral part of my career path.
Looking back, are there any extra hurdles you may have unknowingly put in your own way as you navigated your career journey?
Early on, I really believed that my career path needed to be mostly linear. I think I put that pressure on myself. Looking back, I can now say that I would not have ended up where I am today had I taken a clear-cut, linear path straight out of university. When I let go of what others might think and any self-doubt I had about charting my own path, I altered my definition of success and felt free, empowered, and inspired.
What did you learn about yourself as you mounted these hurdles?
I learned so many things! One could be summed up as rebranding or reinventing myself, and that the need to do so is not a failure — whether it was redefining what a successful career path looks like, or rebranding my business in HR. By being curious and not judgmental of myself and others, I found clarity within my career path. I am very grateful to have my red thread front and centre in the work my partner and I do, and for the role my undergraduate degree played in helping me find it.