As a teenager growing up in Kitchener, Jill Zappitelli was highly independent and driven to succeed at whatever she put her mind to. At 17, her parents decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, but Jill had other plans. “While I knew it would be hard to be separated from my family, I wanted to attend Conestoga College for its Business Administration Management program,” recalls Jill. “All my close friends were here too, so I made the decision to stay in Kitchener and live on my own.” To pay for tuition, rent and living expenses, Jill had to take on a fulltime job—while attending school and finding time to study. “I wasn’t going to fail,” says Jill. “While some people may think it was a scary time, I was so focused and relished the independence.” After three years, Jill graduated from Conestoga College with a Business Administration Management Diploma. She then completed her courses and obtained her Human Resources certificate before receiving her Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) and Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designations.

When it came time to start her career, she landed her first job in human resources at The Mutual Group/Clarica/Sunlife. After 10 years there, she moved to BlackBerry (RIM) and then a not-for-profit in Guelph. Eventually, she started doing human resources outsourcing at a local recruitment agency before coming to a life-changing decision. “Many clients, friends and colleagues encouraged me to start my own human resources consulting business,” explains Jill. “I finally had the kick in the butt that I needed. That’s when I started my own HR firm in Waterloo: H2R Business Solutions. Not long after, I purchased an existing small human resources firm that had just one employee and merged the two together. Five years later, I now have a fantastic team of 12!” Jill’s success should probably come as no surprise, especially considering her hard work ethic. But she also gives credit to her wonderful employees. “They are my second family,” says Jill. “I have the best team ever and am so proud of what we accomplish and the outstanding service we provide to our clients. We work primarily with local small- to medium-sized businesses that don’t have an HR department but need help. We become an extension of their leadership team and handle all things HR.”

While Waterloo is home to Jill’s business, it’s also the place where she set down roots with her family. “Initially, I was drawn to Eastbridge because it was a new developing area,” notes Jill. “There were great parks and amazing trails all around RIM Park. There were so many other families and the neighbourhood was amazing. With my young family and work close by, it was the perfect fit.” A s the children got older, Jill moved to a more mature neighbourhood in Eastbridge. While the new home may have turned off most buyers with its overuse of purple—including the front door, garage door, kitchen and bathrooms—Jill saw potential. “With three bedrooms and two separate living rooms, it was perfect for me and my sons, Carter and Austin,” says Jill. “Paint can fix a lot and the neighbours were friendly and welcoming and the community was very family-oriented. There were summer garage sales, Halloween parties, and Summer Family Fun Days with food, bouncy castles, slides and more!”

For Carter and Austin, Eastbridge has proven a great place to grow up. Today, Carter is in gr ade 10 and flourishing in high school. He plays AA hockey for the Waterloo Wolves. While Carter is the quieter of the two boys, he’s a great help to his mother and always takes the initiative to cut the lawn, shovel the snow and clean up around the house — usually in the wake of his younger brother Austin. More outgoing but just as family-oriented, Austin also played hockey growing up. However, he recently switched to basketball and has really taken off in his new sport.

The last member of the Zappitelli household is Rylee, a 9-year-old English bulldog-pug mix. “Rylee is our v ery spoiled dog—but she is the best ever!” says Jill. “She definitely is one of the family. While she will go for walks, she much prefers curling up in bed and chilling with us at home.” While the family definitely enjoys time at home, they are also very fond of travelling. They have taken multiple vacations to Cuba, the Dominican and Atlanta, Georgia, to visit Jill’s parents. One of their favourite vacations was to Los Cabos, Mexico . It was there they went whale-watching and saw humpback whales breaching in the blue waters. They also spent a great deal of time at the beach, swimming and snorkelling.

For the Zappitelli family, the future certainly seems bright. The boys are thriving at school and in sports. Jill’s business H2R continues to receive raves from clients for its superlative service. A self-made success, Jill is proof that hard work definitely pays off. For those of us who kno wher, Jill is truly an inspiration who brings out the best in everyone. And we’re fortunate to have her in our lives.