HRMAC Panel Discussion of Growing Your HR Career
June 22, 2007
I attended a Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC) panel discussion for young HR Leaders about how to grow your career in HR this past week and really glad I did. The panel consisted of Anne de Bruin Sample, SVP of Human Resources of Pepsi Americas (and fellow Ohio State Buckeye alum), Brad Patrick, SVP of Human Resources of Sara Lee Corporation and Haven Cockerham, President and CEO of Cockerham and Associates (former high level HR leader at GM and RR Donnelly). Paul Schneider of Scherer, Schneider, Paulick, LLC was the moderator and asked intuitive questions about the career paths of each of the panelists. All gave very thoughtful and revealing answers about their successes and their mistakes, their advice for young HR leaders looking to get ahead and their cautionary tales about what can derail a successful career. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these successful people offer advice and quickly came to the conclusion that whether talking about a successful career in HR or a successful career in any other profession, the general advice is all the same. Learn everything there is to know about your company. Meet as many people as you can within that company and learn about what they do. Become a thought leader. Don’t just cow to every opinion offered and become a wall flower. Most successful careers are launched not be status quo or agreeing to everything that your colleague offer, but by careful consideration about how to do things differently. Communication and the ability to build coalitions is the key to a successful career. Without these two characteristics, a successful career become more and more difficult to achieve.
I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above, but all of this advice about a successful career led me to think about a couple things I think are necessary ingredients. The first is something my father taught me: No matter what job you have or what your profession is, you are always selling. Whether you are selling a product or service to a customer, an idea to a colleague or advice to an executive. Second, be genuine and treat others as you wish to be treated, not matter their position within a company. Third, push yourself to learn and be challenged. When you stop doing this things, you might as well quit. It’s transparent to everyone: your boss, your colleagues and, or your clients.