Global Ambassador Spotlight: Cerys Cook

Welcome to our Transform Global Ambassador Spotlight Series, where we shine a light on the dynamic individuals at the heart of our global community. Through the Transform Global Ambassadorship Program, we’re bridging continents and cultures, empowering thought leaders to inspire groundbreaking innovations and cultivate connections that resonate worldwide.

About Our Transform Global Ambassador

Cerys Cook is the Founder of Ryse CPO Solutions and Chief People Officer at Swift Medical with over two decades of strategic people leadership spanning diverse industries. She specializes in high-growth scaling organizations, working directly with and offering guidance and coaching to founders and CEOs. Cerys has a track record of crafting award-winning, inclusive workplaces, driving performance excellence, fostering growth, and nurturing values-based cultures. She was recognized as one of the Top 50 Women Leaders in Toronto by Women We Admire, a Top HR Leader in Canadian Tech by ScaleHR and TAP Network, nominated as one of the Top 100 Human Resources Professionals by ONCon, and is the Lead Global Ambassador for the Toronto Chapter of Transform.

Ambassador Journey:

Q: What are your experiences and motivations for becoming a Transform Global Ambassador?

A: I found myself at a crossroads in 2022, in the wake of the pandemic years, grappling with what felt like an avalanche of unprecedented challenges. The relentless pace and complexity of issues we faced in HR had left me deeply fatigued, a sentiment echoed by many of my peers. And, amidst this sea of exhaustion, my passion for the profession I had always cherished seemed to be rapidly fading. I was desperately seeking inspiration to reignite my enthusiasm. 

Then, in an almost serendipitous turn of events, the universe answered my call! As woo woo as that may sound, I profoundly believe in manifestation. A message from a near-stranger popped up on my LinkedIn messages, inquiring if I planned to attend Transform—a name I was unfamiliar with at the time. Determined not to reveal my ignorance, I did a little research that led to an unexpected and profoundly emotional revelation. Within minutes of researching Transform, joy and relief overcame me as I realized I had likely found my people. 

The Transform conference last year was nothing short of a lifeline for me. It’s hard to overstate its significance; it very well may have been the deciding factor in my continued journey within this profession. The connections I forged there—with individuals who became my support system, my confidants, my friends, and ultimately what I was seeking—my inspiration—have been instrumental in my professional and personal growth. 

When the chance arose to contribute to an organization that played such a pivotal role in revitalizing my career, I literally jumped up and seized it without hesitation. My aspiration is not only to pay it forward by impacting others within our field in the same transformative manner but also to be an active participant in the ongoing evolution of our workplaces. Together, we have such a massive opportunity (and frankly an obligation) to mend our fundamentally flawed work environments. I am excited to help build a global community where critical issues are discussed across borders, sparking true change. I am committed to influencing the ways in which we work, aspiring for profound impacts that ripple through our profession, one connection at a time.

Q: What inspired you to become a Transform Global Ambassador? 

A: Attending the Transform conference was a transformative experience that rekindled my enthusiasm for the profession. The connections I made there played a crucial role in my decision to continue in the field. These relationships underscored the power of community and the profound impact it can have on professional revitalization.  

Driven by a desire to give back to the organization that had such a significant impact on my career, I embraced the opportunity to become a Transform Global Ambassador. This role offers me a platform to contribute to the evolution of work, to be part of healing our fundamentally broken workplaces, and to extend the reach of critical conversations across the globe. My motivation is rooted in the belief that by building a global community, we can effect true change and have a profound impact on the ways we work, inspiring others in the profession to find their own paths to inspiration and renewal. 

Q: What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of being an ambassador? 

A: The opportunity to foster a local community of HR professionals and thought leaders with a global viewpoint has been immensely rewarding. Connecting with individuals who share a common passion for transforming the workplace has enriched my perspective and allowed me to contribute to a collective effort aimed at making meaningful changes in our profession. We are only just getting started! I am excited about what we will continue to build over the next several years. 

Engagement and Impact:

Q: How do you engage with the community as a Transform Global Ambassador?

A: As we are just getting started, our initial steps have centered around successfully engaging with senior HR leaders through LinkedIn to establish an advisory board and orchestrating our inaugural event. This first gathering was crafted not only to spark interest in joining the advisory board but also to begin spreading the word about Transform. With our very first general meeting scheduled for next week, we’re poised to further cultivate our community. Our strategy, which will be further developed during this general meeting, includes leveraging the expertise and networks of our remarkable advisors, amplifying our presence on LinkedIn, and organizing one community event per quarter throughout 2024. These efforts are all aimed at building momentum and fostering a vibrant, engaged Transform community.

Q: What unique experiences or perspectives do you bring to the Transform Global community?

A: In addition to what it says in my bio above my journey has spanned across diverse industries, specializing in high-growth scaling organizations. I know how to pivot on a dime, work with lean teams both in the weeds and strategically, and do more with less and then some is my M.O.! I’ve had the true privilege of working closely with dynamic founders and CEOs, offering them guidance and coaching that is both practical and transformative – truly having the opportunity for a seat at the table my entire career as well as shaping organizations and making change one organization at a time. My approach is deeply rooted in creating inclusive workplaces that also drive performance excellence.  

My unique perspective is also shaped by the early years of my career, which were spent in the culinary world as a chef—an extremely challenging, male-dominated environment. Dealing with knives and fire and egos and heated discussions on a daily basis. The adversity I faced during those times, from the daily struggles and abusive and sexualized behaviours to the nights I cried myself to sleep, became the crucible for my commitment to change. I knew there had to be a better way to work, one that was more inclusive, supportive, and respectful. This resolve has been the driving force behind my career in HR and people leadership, fueling my passion to make work better for everyone. 

This combination of experiences informs my contribution to the Transform Global community in several ways: 

  • Having started in a challenging and often unforgiving field, I understand the nuances of what it means to cultivate a positive workplace culture in varied settings. This allows me to connect with and offer relevant insights to professionals across a broad spectrum of industries. I work from a place of kindness and deep empathy.  
  • My extensive experience in guiding high-growth companies provides me with a strategic perspective on scaling operations while maintaining a focus on people-first principles. I share this knowledge to help startups and growing companies navigate the complexities of expansion without losing sight of their core values and culture. 
  • My track record of crafting inclusive workplaces that have garnered recognition underscores my commitment to diversity and inclusion (especially in times like these where it has gone out of fashion!!! Which, to me, is utterly disgusting and taking us back so far makes me want to scream and I do, from every mountain top I can). I bring this dedication to the Transform Global community, advocating for practices that ensure workplaces are welcoming and empowering for all. 
  • Through direct engagement with founders and CEOs, I’ve developed a keen understanding of the leadership challenges unique to startups and high-growth environments. My role as a mentor and coach within the community is to offer actionable advice and support to leaders striving to create impactful and enduring organizational cultures. 
  • Perhaps most importantly, my foundational ‘why’—the vow to make work better for people—resonates throughout my engagement with the Transform Global community. It serves as a reminder of the profound impact HR and people leadership can have on individuals’ lives and the overall health of organizations. 

By sharing my experiences, insights, and personal journey, I aim to inspire and empower others within the Transform Global community to lead with empathy, strive for inclusivity, and relentlessly pursue the betterment of their workplaces. 

Q: How do you see your role evolving in the future?

A: As I look to the future, I envision my role within the Transform Global community expanding in several dynamic ways, reflecting both the growth of the community and the evolving needs of the HR profession. A key aspect of this evolution could potentially involve spearheading the development of a Canada-wide chapter ambassador event, co-curated with all chapters across the country. With the aim to unite HR professionals from coast to coast, fostering unprecedented levels of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation is an opportunity that has been completely missed by other organizations.  

My role could evolve to include more strategic planning, cross-chapter coordination, and community engagement working closely with leaders from each chapter to ensure that the event captures the unique contributions of each region (Canada is quite regional with differences in the West and the East, in Quebec and in the Maritimes), while also aligning with the vision of Transform, including insights from the other global chapters.  

Additionally, I anticipate my role will increasingly focus on mentorship and leadership development within the Transform community. As the Toronto Chapter grows, nurturing the next generation of HR leaders will become paramount to sustaining the momentum and ensuring that our collective efforts continue to drive meaningful change. 

Outreach and Advocacy:

Q: How do you advocate for Transform’s mission and values in your activities?

A: I prioritize creating spaces where open dialogue and genuine connections can flourish, both online and in person. By organizing networking events, roundtable discussions, and collaborative projects we will facilitate opportunities for HR professionals and leaders to build meaningful relationships. These interactions are vital for sharing insights, offering support, and fostering a sense of belonging within the HR community. 

Collaboration and Networking:

Q: What advice do you have for others considering becoming a Transform Global Ambassador?

A: If you’re passionate about shaping the future of people-driven leadership and have a vision for the workplace of tomorrow, becoming a Transform Global Ambassador offers a unique platform to turn your aspirations into action. The opportunity to influence and inspire change on a global scale is immense. So, my advice is simple: Just do it. Seize this chance to contribute to a movement that aligns with your values and goals.

You’ll have the opportunity to amplify voices, ideas, and innovations that can redefine the HR landscape. Use this platform to share transformative insights, foster meaningful connections, and champion the adoption of practices that prioritize the human element in leadership. Your role is pivotal in spreading the message and encouraging others to join the cause.

Personal Insights:

Q: How has being a Transform Global Ambassador impacted your personal or professional life?

A: Becoming a Transform Global Ambassador has greatly impacted my personal and professional life, offering unparalleled opportunities for growth, connection, and recognition. One of the most significant changes has been the chance to engage with thought leaders within my community—individuals I have long admired but had not interacted with until stepping into this role. This engagement has not only enriched my professional network but also deepened my understanding and perspective on various aspects of HR and leadership. 

Professionally, the role has significantly elevated my visibility in the global HR community. Being showcased as an ambassador and given the opportunity to moderate a panel at the Transform conference were pivotal moments. These experiences have not only highlighted my expertise and contributions but also opened doors to new opportunities. The outreach from CEOs, investors, and peers following these events has been both affirming and transformative, leading to collaborations and discussions that I could not have anticipated before my involvement with Transform. 

On a personal level, these interactions and the increased recognition have bolstered my confidence and reaffirmed my commitment to driving positive change in the HR field. The role has allowed me to leverage my passion for people-driven leadership in ways that have a tangible impact on the community and the broader industry. It’s a reminder of the power of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and embracing opportunities to lead and inspire. 


Q: What are some events your Chapter has hosted or plans to host in the future?

A: We held the launch of the Toronto Chapter in December 2023. Since then, we have formed an advisory board with 7 incredibly talented, dedicated, forward thinking senior HR professionals within the Toronto ecosystem (3 additional seats remain open). We have our first general meeting on Feb 27th to develop our strategy for 2024 along with planning our next community event.

More About Cerys:

Q: When you are not engaging in ambassador activities, what does a day in your life look like?

A: A day in my life…I would describe it as a juxtaposed blend of mindfulness and rigorous professional engagement. My mornings start early, embracing as much tranquility as I can before the day’s pace picks up. This serene beginning is marked by savoring lemon and ginger water in bed, a loving gesture from my husband, followed by a time of reflection and learning through reading articles or books. Gradually transitioning into the day, I nourish my body with celery juice and engage in a workout—be it yoga, Pilates, or cycling on Zwift—setting a tone for the day ahead. 

After a refreshing shower and a shake made of banana, blueberries, and dragon fruit, I embark on my day as the Chief People Officer at Swift Medical. I am nothing if not a lover of routine. Some say boring, I say, comforting. Operating in a fully remote environment, my responsibilities are vast and varied. The nature of our roles in HR ensure that no two days are alike, with tasks ranging from strategic meetings with the board to deeply involved operational work (being deep in the mud with the team). Such is life in scaling tech startup organizations!  

While some days conclude around 5 pm, more often, my work extends into the evening. However, I strive to approach my evening tasks with intentionality, focusing on coaching my clients—mainly founders and CEOs—or addressing urgent matters at Swift. This balance allows me to maintain a strong commitment to both my roles without compromising on the quality and impact of my work. 

To unwind – it could be heading out with one of my adult children (25 and 27) for dinner or a movie, a visit to my parents in their retirement home (my mom has advanced dementia and I savor every moment she remembers who I am) or I might indulge in what I affectionately term “junk food TV,” immersing myself in shows centered around love and relationships, such as “The Bachelor” and “Love Is Blind.” This choice of relaxation serves as a fascinating study of the human condition for me, providing a light-hearted counterbalance to the day’s intellectual and emotional demands. As the night ends, I ensure to disconnect from all devices at least an hour before bed, which aids in mental clarity and relaxation. My day ends with drinking hibiscus tea and engaging in meditation, a time for contemplation, goal setting, and manifesting my dreams. 

It sounds much more tranquil and relaxing than it actually is, I do try to take care of myself so I can be there for others. 

Q: What is a quote or mantra that inspires you?

A: A quote that resonates deeply with me, guiding both my personal and professional journey, is by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This mantra encapsulates the essence of my approach to leadership, coaching, and life. It underscores the profound impact of kindness, empathy, understanding, and human connection in every interaction. 

Calling all global changemakers and community builders! If you are interested in making an impact in your area of the world learn how you can be part of the Transform Global Community.

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