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A manager’s career path: Jean-Pierre Bélanger

Jean-Pierre Bélanger

The Jobs Where You Grow interview series showcases the career path and dedication to the forest products sector of people who have reached management positions while working in production at Resolute Forest Products. Their professional journey provides insight into the career growth opportunities available in the forest products industry.

Jean-Pierre Bélanger

Can you tell us about your responsibilities as a human resources supervisor?

I’m responsible for many things. In a way, I’m the right-hand man of the management team at the Saint-Thomas sawmill. Obviously, I’m consulted when they make administrative decisions but also operational decisions, so I have some authority. I provide coaching to supervisors to help them grow and develop in their line of work, so they can become more efficient and can help the workers around them grow. I’m also involved in the training of managers and union members, especially with regard to safety. I cultivate a lot of helping relationships in order to be responsive when workers express a need for help. I make sure I can help them by directing them to the right resources and our assistance programs. Currently, hiring, recruitment and retention take up a lot of our time. Ultimately, we provide a lot of information to the senior managers to improve the company over the long term. In short, a human resources supervisor wears many hats and has no time to get bored! 

Can you tell us about your career path at Resolute and how you went from production to your current position?

I joined Resolute, which was Donohue at the time, in May 1993 as a production worker at the La Doré facility. They didn’t really want to hire me because I had a nursing degree and they thought I would leave to go into my field. I wanted to get experience in the job market and I liked the wood products industry a lot. Back then, not many jobs were available; so, it was a chance to get my foot in the door, and gradually opportunities came along. I held several jobs in the sawmill operation. In early 1995, I had the opportunity to work as a nurse at the “54 parallel” in Chibougamau. I spent a year there at the sawmill and six months in the woodlands camps working in health and safety as well as medical first aid. 

Then I went back to La Doré and became involved in ISO standards in the early 2000s. When the implementation of ISO 9000 and 14000 was complete, a regional position opened up to manage the programs at all the facilities, and I got the job. Once ISO certification was obtained for all the locations, I got a job in quality (I had previously taken MSR grader training) and became a wood products quality supervisor. I was in charge of the entire Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean region and also did spot checks in Abitibi, Mauricie, Maniwaki and elsewhere in the Outaouais. I was in that role for 10 years. Then the company offered me training leading to a certificate in human resources management. I started in HR management at the Saint-Thomas sawmill in 2010, did a stint in Girardville and then went back to Saint-Thomas. I’ve been working as a human resources supervisor at the Saint-Thomas sawmill for a year, while providing support to the FP Mauricie sawmill in La Tuque. It’s a rather unusual career path, but it’s a good example of jobs where you grow!

Why did you choose to live in Lac-Saint-Jean?

I was born here. I put down roots here and there was never any question of leaving. I found the job I was looking for in my area. I applied to other mills but almost hoped I wouldn’t be hired because I didn’t want to leave my neck of the woods. I was born here, I live here and I don’t see myself leaving – not ever. My activities are regional in nature and adapted to our climate; my passion is snowmobiling and I enjoy going for walks in the forest.  

What is your connection to the forest?

I have a strong connection to the forest. In fact, I’m moving to the woods. It’s the place for me, it’s my nature, it’s my home. You get to the woods and it’s calm and clean; it’s just nature! 

What would be the best advice for someone who wants to pursue a career in the forest products industry?

Go for it! I’ve spent my life promoting the company to people and also referring people to the company. It is a beautiful environment where you work with a natural, renewable resource.

By Charles Martel, an intern working at Resolute’s Saint-Thomas sawmill under the Forest Products Association of Canada’s Green Dream Internship Program

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