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Hockey, the rugged game of skates, pucks and gap-toothed smiles, isn’t Canada’s national game, despite the fact that many Americans believe Canadians are born wearing skates.

In 1859, Parliament declared lacrosse, the game that Canada adopted from its indigenous population, as the national game. Then in 1994, Parliament named hockey as the national winter sport, while lacrosse remained as the national summer sport.

“That’s a neat little piece of trivia,” said Ryan Callan, a Canadian who now lives in Billings and is human resources partner for Associated Employers, a not-for-profit membership association that provides a variety of business-oriented services, including human resources.

Callan said he became interested in his current field after listening to conversations about employee performance involving his father, a union steward for the Teamsters, and his mother, an administrative director for a long-term care home.

Callan worked providing supportive services to youth and adult clients in the human/social services industry. Mindful of the high incidence of burnout in that line of work, Callan said he found his calling in HR consulting.

“It is my goal to maintain a mindfulness of employers’ expenses and bottom line, yet provide them with guidance for improving or implementing best practices and compliant employment practices in-line with state and federal regulations,” Callan said.

Callan came to the United States because he was involved with an American woman. Although that relationship ended, he obtained a green card and has continued to work in the U.S. Callan said he may pursue naturalization but is keeping his options open for now, in part because his fiancé is open to the possibility of relocating to Canada.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Getting companies to respond to AE’s regional surveys with their data and input (wage and salary, benefits and holidays, etc.). Companies love our survey results, but it isn’t easy to collect all that data within a timely manner. Also, not having the “silver bullet” solution that employers want from me, when they are faced with difficult employment and business situations.

What’s the best business advice you have received? Set goals, work smart, and use the right tool for completing the task at hand.

Who gave you that advice? My father.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I have a dream of establishing a wheelbarrow relay race to support a nonprofit/charity in the community; I’m not referring to the ‘hands holding another’s ankles kind of race,’ but a real wheelbarrow and two participants per wheelbarrow. Racers would take turns riding in the wheelbarrows along a 2-4 mile course, at a half-way point they would switch out. This would be an event that engages this community to be more involved with not only their fellow competitors and spectators, but local businesses and a selected nonprofit organization/charity. I see it as potentially being the world’s largest wheelbarrow relay race, and bringing in competitors from far and wide.

Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Building a new wooden toy for my nephew, Solomon.

Which living person do you most admire? My mother, she is my hero. She is the hardest working person I have ever met, and she has the biggest and warmest heart in the world.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Career-wise it is my goal to leave my clients with some knowledge and understanding of how to apply HR practices in their unique situations and workplace settings. So I do feel a sense of success when employers contact Associated Employers looking to speak directly with me for assistance with their HR matters. This indicates to me that they were as appreciative and found benefit from our previous discussions, my coaching and explanations, or the projects I was involved in with them on.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting up after being knocked down; and I am not special in this regard. Most people have experienced some speed-bump or challenging times during their lives, and I too have had some dark days in my life. However, I do believe my greatest achievement is getting back on my feet, evaluating my status and goals, and continuing in pursuit of those goals.

I’m happiest when I’m… spending time with my fiancé and our two wonderful dogs.

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