Workforce.com

Florida Aquarium HR is Everywhere

January 1, 1997
This three-level, 152,000-square-foot Aquarium tells Florida's unique water story as it follows a drop of water from its underground source to the open sea. Along the way, visitors discover more than 5,300 plants and animals representing more than 600 species native to the state. Highlights include interactive programs with scuba divers and other educators. The aquarium features many educational facilities, including two fully equipped classrooms and a Conservation Station.

How did you end up with this particular job in this industry?
After having worked for IBM for 24 years, I retired in October of 1993. In November 1993, I was recruited and given the opportunity to work as the director of HR for The Florida Aquarium. This was an HR person's dream come true-to come in on the ground floor of a new organization.

What is your background?
I attended Penn State University and Colgate University. While with IBM I held various personnel positions including compensation analyst and performance analyst.

What are the biggest challenges of your industry?
My biggest challenge was to put together an HR organization and strategy that supported our values of hiring a culturally diverse group of qualified people, as well as meeting our staffing goals by our March 31, 1995 opening. These objectives were met.

What challenges do you feel are universal for HR?
Key challenges are employee-relation issues regarding diversity, performance evaluations, respect for the individual, salary/wage administration and staffing.

How is HR viewed at your organization?
All HR team members view themselves as internal consultants who provide HR services to all team members-our customers -- who work at the aquarium.

What about your job and/or your organization makes you most proud?
We have designed and implemented a foundation for a culture that's based on fairness and trust; one that respects each team member in a setting that encourages growth, empowerment, cross-functional teams, wellness, safety and cultural diversity.

What is "special" about HR at The Florida Aquarium?
Our culture and values are a part of the way we conduct business.

Workforce, January 1997, Vol. 76, No. 1, p. 87.