Rodney C. Cook, 2018 Winner of the Morley Gunderson Prize

November 2, 2018 by CIRHR Communications

The CIRHR is delighted to announce that Rodney C. Cook is 2018 winner of the Morley Gunderson Prize

The purpose of the Morley Gunderson Prize is to recognize and honour current students or graduates who combine outstanding professional achievement with significant service to the Centre. The prize was established as a tribute to Morley Gunderson’s ten years as Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and is modelled after Morley’s own career, which exhibits outstanding accomplishments as a scholar and researcher in industrial relations, simultaneous with great contributions to the activities and goals of the Centre. 

Rodney C. Cook was selected as this year’s winner in recognition of his service to the Centre and his accomplishments as Vice President, Workplace Health and Safety Services at Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Rod serves on the CIRHR Advisory Board Committee and last year was instrumental in arranging a very well received site visit to the Centre by a Korean delegation of public sector executives. He has hired MIRs into WSIB jobs in the past and has established himself professionally in a position of high authority and responsibility at WSIB. 

The award will be presented on November 16th at the Morley Gunderson Lecture in Industrial Relations and Labour Economics, co-sponsored by the Centre, Department of Economics and Woodsworth College. 

Do you know a CIRHR grad whose professional success is matched by their support of the Centre? Nominations for the 2019 prize may be submitted by current students, graduates, faculty and staff at any time to the CIRHR Director. 

In his own words: 

In a few words, could you tell us about your role at the WSIB?   

As the Vice President of Workplace Health and Safety my team works with employers and stakeholders to create a safer Ontario. Our goal is to make Ontario the safest and healthiest place to work.   

Is there one thing you learned at the Centre that you can point to as especially valuable to your career?

The best lesson the Centre taught me was to develop a broader perspective. The Centre approached learning from different points of reference honing this competency. 

What motivated you to stay involved at the CIRHR after graduation? 

I graduated from the Centre with a deep respect for the quality of education I received. Staying involved has been helpful to be engaged with other high achievers and to have input into the future of the program. 

About Rodney C. Cook 

Rod received his MIR from the Centre for Industrial Relations in 1996. He is currently the Vice President of Workplace Health and Safety Services, overseeing all aspects of workplace health and safety programs at the WSIB. Rod leads a team across Ontario with a focus on being at the forefront of innovation and best practice. He is a change agent and partners with employers and stakeholders to create a safer and healthier Ontario.  

Prior to leading Workplace Health and Safety Services, Rod spent four years as the WSIB’s Vice President of Human Resources. Under Rod’s leadership, HR at the WSIB transformed into an efficient, high-performing division that drives business results through strong leadership of people and effective use of metrics and analytics. In Rod’s time in this role, he improved labour management relations while negotiating significant changes to modernize the collective agreement, and driving pension reform. 

With more than 20 years of experience in key human resources and operations roles in the public and private sectors, Rod has developed specialized competencies in leadership, employee engagement, strategic planning, reward design, and talent development. Now, he is pursuing his passion in health and safety leadership with a focus on making Ontario the safest place to work. Before joining the WSIB, Rod held leadership positions at Rogers Communications, Allstream and AT&T Canada. He has successfully partnered and negotiated agreements with the CAW (now Unifor), United Steelworkers, and CUPE. 

A believer in continuous improvement and social responsibility, Rod is a participant in the MIRHR mentor program and is currently on the MIRHR Advisory Board. Rod is also on the Board of Directors of Cornerstone, an agency devoted to aggressively acting on homelessness in Durham Region. 

Rod holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics (with distinction) from Concordia University and is also the recipient of the Canada Post Fellowship Award.