It is early morning in Canada when we phone HR Manager Sylvie Berube. When we ask her how she would describe the corporate culture at Sennheiser Canada, she surprises us with an apt comparison. “We all know this great song by the Eagles, Hotel California. There is this passage in the song that reflects exactly what Sennheiser means to us in Canada: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Sylvie actually checked in at Sennheiser much earlier than she realizes. “My father was a big fan of German engineering. He had this 60's Telefunken Selzberg Stereo Console Record Player that he really loved. That beautiful lacquered cherry wood piece of furniture is one of my first memories of music. When I started playing music myself —saxophone, marimba, glockenspiel, flute — he said: ‘You need good headphones, I will buy you some.’ He brought me earphones with green earpieces. They went everywhere with me for years. They were from Sennheiser, another German brand that he loved very much.” Despite her mother's pride in her achievements in music and theater, she wanted to be of good advice and suggested to focus on a more traditional career that would bring stability, so she eventually became an executive search consultant (headhunter). For 27 years she worked at identifying executives and professionals that were the right fit for organizations. Sennheiser Canada was one of her customers.
“They asked me if I wanted to join them as a permanent human resources manager. I had to think about it very carefully. As a consultant, you can’t simply write something off as an experiment. Your customers move on—and if things go wrong, you must completely rebuild your business. That was a risk for me. But I did it,” she says. Sennheiser Canada has undergone many changes since then. “My main objective has always been to support people’s development. Change is of course something that everyone has to deal with. I help to guide them through the process. Whenever there are significant changes, I first of all want everyone to welcome these changes and then to play a part in determining the outcome. I participated to several corporate leadership and culture workshops and every single time, I leave with countless stories that prove to me how passionate our people are about our business, and how hard they work. Just because people are initially skeptical about change does not mean that they are resistant to it. It simply shows everyone really cares about our culture, which is our customers’ identity as well. Ultimately, we all determine our own actions every single day.”
Sylvie has come to realize that change is not as simple as rearranging the furniture; instead it is completely redesigning the house alongside those who are expected to use it. And she makes it clear that the whole team should take pride in their achievements, and keep focusing on their respective strengths. Sylvie’s thoughts turn to her father. “I think he would be pretty proud too.”