Q: Why did you decide to get into human resources?
A: I've always loved learning. I actually taught school for two years after college. I love [how I feel] when people's behavior changes because of what they've learned, and that I may have had something to do with that. That [love] flowed into the people areas of business -- HR. People learning and developing and growing, that's tremendous; there's nothing like that, nothing more challenging or rewarding.
Q: What's the best part of your job?
A: Every HR person I talk to says the challenges today are greater than at any time. When you begin to address those challenges, people are the only thing that makes the difference. They're the bottom line. So the opportunity for HR to make a huge difference is there.
Q: What's the toughest part?
A: If you take that challenge -- to make a difference -- it makes the job really tough. It's stressful. It used to be the key part of my job was making sure the lines in the parking lot were straight. Now I know what we do affects our competitiveness, affects the company. I sometimes don't sleep as well as I used to.
Q: What does being a strategic business partner mean to you?
A: What being a strategic business partner does not mean to me is reacting to business manager requests and problems. What being a strategic business partner does mean to me is taking a leadership position on those issues which truly influence the strategic direction of the business.
Q: What does being a leader in the organization mean to you?
A: For an HR person, being a leader in the organization means you have the same opportunity, responsibility, accountability and influence as any other member of the leadership team. Being a strategic leader means you can show evidence that you have actually influenced the direction of the business.
Q: What advice do you have for other human resources professionals?
A: What frustrates me is I see some HR people who have their heads down, who say we [in HR] have no respect, we're not important. But then I'll talk to another HR person, maybe someone within the same organization, and [he or she says] just the opposite. The only thing that limits us is intelligence, energy and commitment, and the attitude and mindset of the HR person. I encourage human resources people to look at themselves, to see how they feel about change, creativity and ownership. If they in all honesty don't like change, are adverse to owning a situation, they've got a problem. They're not going to be able to influence the organization in the way it needs to be influenced.
Q: What's the greatest contribution HR professionals can make in the years ahead?
A: To lead organizations in their action to hire, train and motivate individuals while, at the same time, being the initiator of actions that result in organizational success.
Q: You've been recognized on numerous occasions as being a leader in your field. To what do you attribute this?
A: First, TI as an organization has demonstrated business success. Secondly, the HR team has initiated activity in a broad range of areas which have been successful, such as diversity initiatives, work/life initiatives, major redesign of benefits programs, innovative reward and recognition activities and succession planning. It should be noted that these activities are evident globally.
Workforce, February 1998, Vol. 77, No. 2, p. 32.