How did you get your start in HR?
My first leadership role in HR was at a tech startup company that designed a revolutionary analog-to-digital chip that went into the company’s original wireless router. As the first person in HR at a venture capital–funded company, I had this incredible opportunity to build an HR function. Once the company was acquired, I leaped into HR consulting, then moved into HR leadership roles in healthcare, the maritime industry, federal government contracting, tech startups, municipal and state government, and higher education institutions. Most recently, I have developed and led HR and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) transformations, helping those companies to become nationally recognized employers for women, diversity, and veterans.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Naturally, I am a learner and researcher. These qualities make me an unconventional thinker, passionate about understanding complex and different perspectives. In my personal life, I am committed to working with women and people who identify with socially unique groups to mentor and elevate them. Coaching people to achieve their personal and professional goals is intrinsically rewarding.
What does your role as executive advisor involve? What drew you to it?
My role as an executive advisor involves being a sounding board and a partner to explore and connect leaders to the solutions, insights, and tools that will propel their organization strategically toward its goals. As an EA, I am an accountability partner to HR leaders, helping them integrate their unique perspectives when designing and aligning their organization’s people journey, strategies, and priorities.
This role drew me in from the research practice because our members’ work is exciting. I enjoy working with clients from different industries and learning about their challenges. The varying sectors, people in HR, and their experiences are compelling, and I am very motivated to understand and connect to members as a strategic executive advisor.
What is top of mind for HR leaders right now? What challenges are they facing?
Some of the questions I have heard my clients – HR executives across industries, geographies, and organizations of varying sizes – ask include:
- What will HR need to do about digitalization and AI advancements, and how does HR ensure our teams are ready to incorporate them into our work?
- How will HR redesign organizational culture to align with the new perspectives that employees have gained over the last few years to ensure talent and retention meet the organization’s need for future sustainment and growth?
- How can HR ensure that mental health, wellbeing, environmental and social governance, and diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to be supported despite changing priorities?
What do you do to take care of yourself?
A balanced and integrated work and life have been critical to my mental health and wellbeing. I create space to spend time in nature, meditate, read, and write as self-care. Learning really energizes me and gives me the life and lift I need to be happy. I spend time on the lake and nature trail by my home, and our family loves camping, fishing, and going to the beach. My idea of self-care after a long day is having a good session at the gym, taking a long walk, chatting with my loved ones, sitting on the beach, or bingeing on a great K-drama.
What advice do you have for someone starting as an HR leader?
You have worked hard to get to where you are, and reflecting on those experiences is critical. The key is to bring your authentic self. Know the organization’s business and design and listen to people’s feelings about it. Things need to make sense for the leaders and people, and HR is critically positioned to ensure alignment. Success depends on building relationships, understanding needs, and intentionally prioritizing. The only way to do it is to get out of your workspace and talk to people in the organization.
I also believe in making space for mentorship and sponsorship for yourself and others. You have made it into leadership – what led you here? And why do you do what you do? Connect to those questions and determine if those reasons inspire you. Reflect on whether your HR path trailblazes the way forward for unique people that advance the organization and ensures future success.
To learn more about our Executive Services and how McLean & Company will partner with you to accelerate completion of targeted HR priorities that ultimately drive your organization’s critical business objectives forward, please visit us at McLean Executive Services or contact Jon Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.