Vice President, Human Resources
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Before my senior year at Vanderbilt University, I came home to Cleveland for the summer and interned at Stouffer’s Hotel. There, I worked with the director of human resources (HR). I had an opportunity to interview people for hourly jobs, plus learned a bit about workers compensation issues and benefits enrollment. Although it was my first exposure to this area of business, I connected immediately and appreciated the importance of the HR function. In fact, this job was the reason I decided to focus on human resources when I went to Vanderbilt business school a year later.
My dad had always encouraged me to find a career that I loved. I learned my work ethic from him. With five children, my mom’s main focus was our family – plus, she volunteered for everything at our school and in the community. Together, they set a great example; I love immersing myself in both work and family activities. That’s what I enjoy, and that’s what gives me energy.
The combination of wanting to be energized and involved also sparked my interest in HR consulting. After graduate school, I joined the Dallas office of Towers Perrin and began working in their executive compensation practice. Designing executive compensation plans, doing competitive analysis, market-pricing jobs … I learned a lot about the analytical side of HR. Our clients were diverse – large energy companies to smaller media companies – and so were the projects.
The pace at Towers Perrin was fast. I was constantly learning about new industries and how to interact with different clients. I worked with different teams all the time, which helped me develop my skills. Respecting others was critical, and collaboration was key.
In 1999, Towers Perrin transferred me to Cleveland, where one of my first assignments was with Swagelok. I worked on designing the compensation and performance management piece of the company’s Total Rewards Program.
Swagelok was different than any of my other clients. “Respect” wasn’t just a buzzword. The way they treated their people was different. The way they managed their plants was different. I had toured a lot of factories as a consultant, and I had never seen conditions as nice as they were at Swagelok. Even though I loved the fast pace and variety of consulting, I could see myself working at Swagelok someday.
The next year, when presented with the opportunity, it was an easy decision. I joined Swagelok as manager of compensation and internal communications and brought in some of the work I was doing at Towers Perrin. Within the year, I had helped publish Swagelok’s first Total Rewards Statement and implemented market-based pay and performance management programs.
Gradually, my responsibilities stretched to include benefits, as well as training and development. Over the years, I helped implement a flexible benefits program, manage staffing demands during business upturns, and develop training and change management programs when Swagelok introduced Lean Manufacturing.
I’ve seen Swagelok grow into a larger, more global organization, with a larger, more global human resources function. There is even more to be involved with now and even more responsibilities to tackle. I still enjoy the sense of accomplishment from a great day’s work, something I learned from my father.
Becoming vice president of human resources is just a continuation of my work here, to keep building what we’ve already begun. Part of my job is to make sure we have the workforce and leaders in place to achieve our aggressive growth goals. Another part is driving continuous improvement within the HR team – ensuring that we’re a partner with the business and that we’re always focusing on supporting our customers and helping them develop and manage the workforce.
Away from work, when I’m not spending time with my family, I serve on the board of the Achievement Centers for Children, which supports children with disabilities. I love that my kids can get involved in the organization, too. Plus, I’ve served multiple terms on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization that supports families like mine that are affected by the disease.