Deanne Harrison: On Global Culture & Community Advocacy


Deanne Harrison is the SVP of People & Process at 24-7 Intouch, a global contact center and technology company headquartered in Winnipeg.  She plays a lead role in helping 24-7 Intouch scale to become one of Manitoba’s fastest growing companies. She will be leading an interactive workshop called “Using Culture to Scale from Startup to Unicorn” at this week’s 2018 Venture Out Conference in Toronto.

Tell us about yourself and your journey to becoming SVP of People & Process at 24-7 Intouch

I started my career in the Learning & Development and Behavioural Assessment space. From there, I moved into working with companies across Canada, providing consulting in Executive Search, Recruiting and HR. I learned so much about myself during this time, and it’s where my passion and interest for entrepreneurial environments developed. I was drawn to companies where you can develop new processes and strategies, things move quickly, and people aren’t afraid to try new things.  I started my career at 24-7 Intouch in HR, and helped to build and lead their Compliance Department as a new initiative. I helped to bring structure and process to the organization in a way that worked for us. It’s exciting to me that every day I can grow, expand and work in areas that give me variety.

What about 24-7 Intouch resonates with you?

24-7 Intouch is the best of so many worlds, crossing the thresholds between tech and customer care. Being able to build bridges between the latest in tech innovation and creating world class customer care experiences for our clients is a unique combination that leads to endless possibilities. I love being able to develop new innovations, whether it be surrounding our People strategies, process development or new initiatives. The entrepreneurial drive is exciting and motivating for me. The diversity that we bring to our organization (by design) is truly one of our competitive advantages.

What have been your favourite and most challenging parts about leading teams on a global scale?

I love learning about different cultures, countries and environments. When it comes to the employment landscape, the global perspective is so vast, and the continuous learning from that is a rewarding experience.  How and what drives individuals varies, not only on a personal level, but also when it comes to their geographic culture. Integrating this into the corporate culture of each specific campus presents a unique and exciting challenge. The distance can certainly make leading a global team challenging. I always want to make sure everyone is aligned and ensure a consistent message is delivered. We always want to keep what makes 24-7 Intouch special, but also be mindful that everyone is motivated differently.  

What solutions do you use for overcoming career hurdles?

One of the biggest skills I’ve learned and developed over the years is resiliency. Being able to take rejection, critical feedback and unsuccessful projects not as personally, but rather to use those experiences to leverage future success. Very early in my career, I worked for a company that decided to relocate the entire business and I found myself laid off. This felt like a personal rejection, but it taught me that you can’t be prepared for everything. Always be ready to adapt, stay flexible and work to develop an approach that moves you forward. Keeping this attitude will always help you bounce back quicker, rather than dwelling on what could have been.

Is there any advice you’d love to give your past self?

I would tell my younger self to be confident. Be confident in what you know and listen to your instincts, but also have enough confidence to know when to ask for help when you need it. You can’t know everything when you’re early in your career, so know when to ask questions and learn from those with varied expertise around you. It’ll be a driver to your success.

You’re a huge advocate for the Special Olympics and the LGBTQA+ community. Where does this passion come from?

I believe people should be able to be who they are. The Special Olympics movement is one that has had a significant impact on my life. I’ve watched the lives of athletes and families change just by the simple act of being able to participate in sports without fear or judgement. The supportive and encouraging nature of the Special Olympics organization drives my passion for equality across all areas.  I love that companies such as #movethedial and Venture Out are pushing boundaries and opening doors for those that can’t always do it on their own. Working as a collective is so powerful. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by mentors and leaders who have these same beliefs, and I know that I can rely on them to play a role in making a difference.

articleElektra Simms