Vice President, Human Resources
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The toughest challenges I see in HR today are creating experiences that energize and engage all of the generations in the workforce and being agile enough to change quickly. Generational gaps are not a new issue, but creating a compelling and meaningful experience for the individual has changed over the years.
Technology and an “always-on” mentality have changed the way we work, learn, respond, and interact. Businesses that can create a culture that is open, agile, and technology savvy, while taking into account the “individual’s experience,” will be successful. In a manufacturing environment, too, there’s an ongoing struggle to attract a new generation of talent to build a career in manufacturing.
The challenges and pace of change are exciting and tough, but I love trying to figure things out—as a team. I’m a connector, and HR is all about bringing people in an organization together to focus on something that’s bigger than one person. When you know the business, its mission, and the people, there are so many good things you can do together.
I always knew I was going to be serving in some way, shape, or form; however, I didn’t know it would be as an HR professional. I grew up in Dutchess County, New York—which is only a little more than an hour from the city—and I went to undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Albany. All along, I planned on working for the New York state police or the FBI.
In fact, I was first introduced to HR during a graduate internship with the state police. They were pretty progressive in their thinking and were beginning to transform their HR department. Their administrative focus shifted to one of leadership and employee development—with a specific emphasis on diversity and inclusion. In the years since, I’ve been fortunate that all of the businesses I’ve worked for wanted to change for the better, were progressive, and really valued people and learning environments.
My first big opportunity was as an HR manager for GE in Schenectady, NY, supporting the benefits team. After about a year, I was accepted into their HR leadership program, which was designed to provide a deep understanding of HR. To round out my experience, I needed to practice HR in a manufacturing environment, so they offered me the opportunity to move to GE Quartz in Willoughby, OH. I was completely out of my element at first, but this job was the turning point in my career and life. I’ve worked in manufacturing environments ever since, including as the head of human resources for Akzo Nobel North America.
Then, I decided to leave the traditional workforce. I owned a small business as a coach and advisor, so that I could spend more time with my girls. My husband Kevin and I have three daughters, and I’m in awe of them. They are what give me the most joy. Raising children is a lifelong journey, and my husband and I believe if we raise great human beings, we’ve done our job.
When the position at Swagelok became available, I was intrigued. First of all, the company’s reputation is terrific. Second, I saw an opportunity to truly make an impact on the business. I love business, people, teams, and organizations—and bringing all of those puzzle pieces together. And, here at Swagelok, as we continue on our transformational journey, I hope my passion and experiences will help the business bring those pieces together to meet its aspirations.
Being a confidant, coach, and mentor and knowing our craft are things that HR partners love. If we do our jobs right, we can really add value that is engaging, caring, business smart, and forward thinking. It’s rewarding to understand the business and people in a deeper and meaningful way and to help the entire organization progress as a team and as individuals. The best leaders, from my perspective, listen and truly care about the individuals—their values, backgrounds, and aspirations.
Sharing a meaningful conversation or experience can really bring people together—at work or in the community. I’ve served on the board of Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland for many years. If you ever need to gain perspective or want to see inclusion at its best, visit RMH. While there are so many differences in the world, volunteering at the house reminds you that we’re all alike in so many ways too. When you have a sick child, it doesn’t matter where you are from or your background—your heart breaks in the same way.
Serving and leading are so closely intertwined. I’ve been fortunate to have had great role models and mentors throughout my life. Their guidance has helped me navigate through this incredible—and not always easy—journey. Today, as a mom, leader, and mentor myself, I hope to keep paying it forward.