Global HR Is a Mindset, Not an Address

Malou Roth, vice president of human resources for Molex Inc. talks about what being in global HR is all about and why it's so crucial to the company's operations and growth.

March 1, 1999
Workforce talked with Malou Roth, vice president of human resources for corporate training and development of Molex Inc. based in Lisle, Illinois. Here, she talks about what being in global HR is all about and why it’s so crucial to the company’s operations and growth:

How long have you been in HR?
I’ve been in human resources since the beginning of my career. After graduating from Penn State University, I was lucky to start off in the HR department of a large insurance company. It was hiring education majors as trainers—to write and conduct job training courses. I later moved to compensation and benefits, and other areas of human resources.

When did you first get involved in global HR? How did that come about?
My first exposure to global HR was in the early ’70s when I worked for American Express International Banking Corp. When I joined Molex in the mid-’80s, I worked in the international division developing and maintaining our HR programs in countries outside the United States. I traveled to all the Molex facilities overseas. To truly understand how HR works in foreign countries, you have to travel, meet the managers and employees, and work with the local HR staff.

What has been your biggest struggle in implementing good global HR practices?
Exporting the corporate culture to overseas countries has been the most difficult part of the HR plan. The Molex corporate culture is a global one, but there are aspects of it that are easier to implement in the United States than in some foreign countries. We want all our employees to have the same training and development opportunities, have the same chances to speak up when they have a suggestion or a complaint, be treated with respect, be paid for performance and so on. Not all these philosophies translate smoothly into foreign cultures. Getting managers all over the Molex world to adopt these beliefs has sometimes been a challenge.

What has been the biggest reward in implementing good global HR practices?
Solid, effective HR programs, policies and practices create top performance and successful business results. When our employees are treated well, they thrive. When employees are secure, recognized for their accomplishments, encouraged to speak up, make improvements in their jobs and pursue training to develop themselves, Molex wins. Making top profits every year means we have more to invest in our plants, in our technology and in our employees.

What makes HR the best place for you to be making a difference at Molex?
To be involved in selecting, training, developing and retaining employees and managers means I can make a huge difference for Molex. Products can be imitated. Manufacturing processes can be duplicated. But the one thing our competitors don’t have is the intelligence, energy and enthusiasm of our employees. That’s why Molex will continue to grow and succeed.

Workforce, March 1999, Vol. 78, No. 3, p. 46.