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SPECIAL EDITION: The HR Awards Winners

Highlighting the achievements and inspirations of twelve outstanding HR leaders from the NEO community...


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Honoring HR Excellence in NEO Cleveland SHRM | ERC

Congratulations winners and finalists! The HR Awards, a new recognition program honoring Northeast Ohio HR professionals, held its inaugural luncheon awards event on October 25, 2012. The winners were chosen for their exceptional demonstration of excellence in the field of HR management. Their achievements and unique skills show dedication toward continuous improvement of themselves and their organizations. The awards honor all levels of HR practitioners, from individuals in local SHRM student chapters to HR executives.

Categories & corresponding 2012 winners: • Emerging Leader - Carol Burhenne; Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) • Employee Relations - Megan Busovicki; AdvoCare Group • Organizational & Employee Development Christa A. Lenko; Skoda Minotti • HR Student Advisor - Dr. Vickie Coleman Gallagher; Cleveland State University • Compensation - Amy Petrus; Consultant • Business Leader - Monica Brown; The Cleveland Foundation • Benefits - Lyn Gwinn; Child Guidance & Family Solutions • Talent Management - Tom Tomasula; The Lubrizol Corporation • HR Student - Olga Nagdaseva; Cleveland State University • Technology - Jeff Hudson; PolyOne Corporation • Global HR - Jerry Torma, Nordson Corporation • Diversity - Kelly Loebick-Frascella; Main Street Gourmet


This awards program is co-hosted by ERC and Cleveland SHRM, and judged by an independent panel of d i s t i n gu i s h ed representatives from the local HR community.

L to R: Pat Perry, President of ERC; Mike Benz, former CEO of United Way & keynote speaker at The HR Awards luncheon; SueAnn Naso, President of Cleveland SHRM

The 2012 HR Awards winners are highlighted in the following pages, including favorite quotes, inspirational stories, and lessons each has learned in the HR field. ERC and Cleveland SHRM would like to congratulate these winners and the following finalists for their commitment to HR and their noteworthy contributions.

2012 Finalists: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Kristin C. Hannon; Stark State College Beth Stec; MCPc, Inc. Susie Barragate; Vocational Guidance Services Douglas Dykes; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Jennifer Miller; Summa Western Reserve Hospital Ryan Zubal; John Carroll University Dr. Tracy Porter; Cleveland State University Diane Hupp; Sherwin-Willliams Jamie Herbst; Menorah Park Center for Senior Living Nickie DiCarlo; The Oatey Company Jessica Kelly; OrthoHelix Surgical Designs, Inc. Charles Newton; DentalOne Partners Deborah Bridwell; Greater Cleveland Partnership Fran Walsh; MTD Products Laurie Allen; STERIS Corporation

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Carol Burhenne

Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) | Winner for Emerging Leader


have never existed in HR before a few years ago.

Carol had the opportunity to work directly for the National VP of HR for Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles.

“I would never have imagined 15 years ago that I would be writing policies covering social media, have a majority of employees working from home, or that I would need to know how to manage cell phone camera use in the work place!”

She was initially hired as the cost control manager for the HR group, but transitioned into more hands-on HR Management. “I was fortunate to have direct exposure to HR on a national level, and the VP of HR was open to mentoring me throughout my tenure with the firm.” “It was through this position that I discovered that I enjoy people-focused work.”

Best Part of Work Carol enjoys working with employees to help them develop and grow their skill sets. She likes the challenge of finding solutions to situations through strategic planning. “At the end of the day, I feel that I’ve made a difference for our employees.”

Current Trends One of the most interesting trends in HR leadership is the move toward a mobile workforce. Carol comments that creating and managing a mobile workforce presents challenges and opportunities that


A Word to the Wise “Expect and prepare for the unexpected.” For years, HR was a basically static function. Carol states that currently, it is evolving into a strategic and fluid role. HR managers need critical thinking skills. Carol recommends taking a business class to see how current students (soon to become employees) behave and think. She says that obtaining an understanding of the upcoming generations will help in effectively managing the incoming employees.

Lessons Learned Carol notes the true benefit of working in HR is the empathy and understanding she has gained. Being exposed to the situations of employee struggles and triumphs has certainly posed many challenges, but it has also been extremely rewarding for Carol and so many others in HR.

Megan Busovicki Background

Megan’s first exposure to the HR field was a part of her internship at the University of Toledo in their HR department. After her graduation, Megan began working for a local non-profit as a HR Representative. Megan notes that she was quickly tasked with all facets of a generalist. “I was able to see the impact and importance our department had to the organization as a whole, which lead to the enhanced delivery of services we provided.”

Focus on Employee Relations Megan believes it is her passion for people and for making a difference that has helped her excel in the area of employee relations. “My inspiration stems from my belief that a supportive and dynamic workplace ultimately leads to the success of both the individual and the organization.”

HR Inspiration Megan describes the experience of being hugged by employees for her role in helping them through personal or work-related hardships. “It’s a humbling experience. I credit my parents for the values they have instilled in me, which align with the work I do in relation to staff.” Megan says she was always taught to work hard, be kind to others, and never to quit. Those guiding principles have inspired her to continue working in HR, especially when her role presents difficult challenges.

Best Part of Work Megan enjoys that her career is full of continuous opportunity and new challenges each day. She notes that her passion for people and for making a difference has led to the fulfilling role she now plays in her employees’ lives. “In this job, I have found that diversity in people and experiences fuels my passion. The best part of my work is knowing that I can make a positive impact, while driving the success of our business. That, to me, is most rewarding.”

A Word to the Wise “Always do what you are passionate about, and what you believe in.” Megan emphasizes the importance of doing what you say you’re going to do, and adhering to your values. She believes that the rest will come naturally!


AdvoCare Group Winner for Employee Relations

“Play like a Champion Today.” Megan is huge football enthusiast, and this quote comes from a long time Notre Dame Football tradition. Inscribed outside the locker room, players hit this sign as they take the field. “I’ve often thought about hanging a ‘Work like a Champion Today’ sign above our entry door!”

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Christa Lenko

Skoda Minotti | Winner for Organizational & Employee Development

Background Christa began in HR as a Benefits Administrator with a large international corporation. Within a year, she was promoted to the HR Generalist role, supporting Customer Service - the largest department in the organization. “With wonderful mentors and leaders, I realized I had found my calling. I’ve been in the HR field for over 12 years now, and have enjoyed it immensely.”

Best Part of Work “The best part of my job, by far, is knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”

Current Trends Christa states that leadership development is becoming more internal. She says that this area will continue to be more about gaining the respect and trust of others, and inspiring them. Two other areas she sites are: • Going virtual - Christa believes that with many individuals focused on a stronger work-life balance and organizations becoming leaner, companies will need to convert the work team to virtual work. Bringing the cost of travel down, Christa says that tools like text messaging, Skype, and GotoMeeting will enable individuals to work wherever, however, and whenever possible. • A focus on middle managers - Christa notes that management development strategies starting at the


top tend to lose momentum as they are rolled out to middle managers and team leaders. These individuals, she points out, have the most significant influence on day-to-day engagement. By focusing on these staff members, companies should see an improvement in morale, engagement, retention, and clarity regarding strategy and values.

A Word to the Wise “A manager once told me if you want to be successful in your career, look for something new that you can learn and take along with you from each day to help build your tomorrow.” “This has helped me gain knowledge, skills, and confidence, as well as keeping me engaged throughout my career.”

Lessons Learned “Effective HR professionals need to understand the business strategy and every function of the business.” For Christa, this has been one of the most critical lessons of her career experience. She states that it isn’t all about designing compensation plans or writing job descriptions; rather, it’s about tying in marketing, sales, acquisitions, strategic planning and many other areas to complete the picture. “Also, I’ve been fortunate to work in companies where HR has a ‘seat at the table’, and I’ve learned a lot of business acumen from sitting at that table.”

Dr. Vickie Coleman Gallagher Cleveland State University | HR Student Advisor Winner

“Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Background In undergraduate school, Vickie was enthusiastic about both psychology and sociology. Vickie says that she would’ve loved to be a psychologist, but it probably would’ve broken her heart to see so much pain and suffering in others. Being a first generation college graduate, Vickie was unsure about graduate school and her future career. Although she thought about becoming a teacher, her father encouraged her to go into business. “My father thought it would be more practical. So I discovered market research and the use of psychology to understand consumer behavior, market segmentation, and the like.” Although her undergraduate degree was in marketing (from CSU in 1990), she later decided to pursue a degree in Consumer-Industrial Research (from the Psychology Department at CSU - 1999). In this program, Vickie learned about and gained an appreciation for the application of focus groups, interviews, surveys, etc., to help organizations and people become more successful. After marrying and moving to Tallahassee in 2001 - to begin her husband’s teaching career at Florida State University - Vickie decided to earn her PhD in Management and Organizational Behavior, which she earned in 2007.

Why teaching and advising students? Vickie was a typical commuter student at CSU for both her undergraduate and master’s degrees. Some of her fondest memories and best experiences came from being a part of the American Marketing Association. She remembers where the group hung out, and some of the activities they participated in - like surveys, fundraisers, focus groups, sports, and attending professional events together. Vickie recalls the student advisor - Sandy Jacobs - as a very patient and kind teacher, with tremendous enthusiasm. “Our experiences were real-world, practical, and fun! I know that these experiences, particularly for CSU students, will prepare them for their careers.”


Career Inspiration Vickie states that she always begins her first day of class with her professional story. “I tell my students that I spent 15 years trying to be the best market researcher I could be. I had very strong credentials. But most of my ‘ah ha’ moments had nothing to do with being good at what I did for a career. They were about understanding others, navigating politics, and building relationships.” Ultimately, the combination of these moments were the inspiration for Vickie to choose management as the area for her teaching, research, and consulting.

Best Part of Work “I love continuous learning. Each new class teaches me to view the material in a different way.” Vickie still finds the material powerful and meaningful… and her students often do as well. She notes how impactful it is for her when her students speak with passion as they discover the material (i.e. personality, stress, politics, leadership styles, etc.) They begin putting structure to many already familiar topics. “My favorite classes to teach include Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development & Change. I love helping future HR managers understand team dynamics, motivation, and other practical concepts.”

Lessons Learned Vickie enjoys watching her students as they learn to bring together and motivate others, and as they become comfortable with their own presentation and leadership styles. She hopes to pass on her own career lessons to her students. “The hardest part of one’s career is not about the content knowledge, but how it is delivered, the relationships we develop, and the manner in which we conduct ourselves.”

Amy Petrus Background Amy earned her undergraduate degree in Organizational Behavior. Her degree included courses in Industrial Psychology, labor law, and compensation. After college, her first job was as a recruiter and then an HR Generalist. While at the Cleveland Orchestra, Amy obtained experience in benefits administration, employee relations, recruiting and compensation. “I had an excellent mentor who included me in all HR work and special projects. He really pushed me with regard to writing and quantifying a business case with numbers.” It was during this experience that Amy decided to continue her career in HR and began her Master’s degree in Labor Relations/HR.

Focus on Compensation While Amy worked with the Orchestra, she assisted their consultants at KPMG with compensation structure updates. She was then hired by KPMG, where she worked with a variety of industries doing compensation work. “I was hooked on consulting and compensation. I love the fact that a sound compensation system can have such an impact on attracting and retaining employees.”

Why HR? “I can’t imagine doing anything else!”

Current Trends Amy states that given the economy and the history of small budgets for base compensation, she is seeing trends now in annual compensation increases. She notes that while many companies didn’t have the fiscal means to address compensation in the past few years, many are now making strides to revise their compensation structures. This includes developing comprehensive annual increases, promotions, and bonus programs. Another trend Amy points out is the prevalence of variable compensation plans, which has continued to increase over the past ten years. “A variable compensation plan, if structured properly, pays for itself. It is basically the concept of implementing a ‘share in the win’ program.”

Lessons Learned “People are truly an organization’s most important asset, and how you treat them can make or break the organization’s success.”


Consultant Winner for Compensation

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, and learn as if you were to live forever.” - Gandhi

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Monica Brown The Cleveland Foundation | Winner for Business Leader

Background After spending about 7 years in retail management, Monica realized that what she loved most about her work were the people working for her. Leaving her retail career in 1997, Monica took a year to pursue a Master of Labor Relations and Human Resources from CSU. Upon graduation, she accepted her position of HR Manager at the Western Reserve Historical Society, and has been in a nonprofit HR position ever since.

Why HR, and why nonprofit?

better the community around them. This makes work engaging, rewarding, and best of all - fun. Another key factor in engagement is support. Monica recognizes her supervisor - Senior VP and CFO Kate Asbeck, and her HR partner, Danielle Hanna for their encouragement and guidance.

A Word to the Wise Here are a few pieces of advice Monica shares with her peers in HR:

“Working in HR, you have the fortune of interacting with people at every level of an organization.”

• Don’t wait for someone to ask you to do something! Be proactive in your work and seek out ways to make things better in your workplace.

Monica is inspired by the positive contributions of others and loves supporting their needs as they continue to grow personally and professionally.

• Show the leaders in your organization what you can do to help ensure the achievement of strategic goals.

She feels privileged to work for the Cleveland Foundation where the leaders believe that employees are the greatest asset and the means to making positive change in the community.

• Get to know the people you work with - find ways to improve the quality of the working environment for your employees. It doesn’t have to cost much or be a formal program - it’s just the little things that people appreciate so much!

Best Part of Work “I know that I am truly valued and respected as a partner of the leadership team at the Cleveland Foundation.” Monica knows that many HR professionals don’t always have that luxury. Each day at work, what she contributes is appreciated. The HR team at the Cleveland Foundation is directly involved with developing and implementing strategy, so Monica and her peers are able to see the work they do


Lessons Learned “I have learned the importance of being sensitive and accepting of others’ work styles and points of view.” Everyone has ideas, agendas, and feelings. Monica says it’s critical to recognize they will not always be in line with your own, and that’s ok! The important thing, she notes, is to find the most effective, collaborative and impactful way to work with them to reach common goals.

Lyn Gwinn Background Lyn got her start in HR when she was promoted into a new position in corporate HR, at BFGoodrich. This was when 401k plans were first introduced. She was then moved into all-benefit management when BFG retreated from the tire market, gaining more generalized experience in a wide variety of benefit areas.

HR Inspiration “I love benefit management - from statistical data analysis to helping employees get the right coverage for their family dynamics.” Lyn states that HR affords her the opportunity to be a part of the big picture, while not losing sight of staff needs.

Current trends Current trends Lyn sees are wellness monitoring and educational programs. She stresses that the eating, drinking, smoking, etc. behaviors of staff both inside and outside of work heavily influence benefit trends. Monitoring those trends and being able to assess individual needs and personal challenges will help companies prepare for future programs and costs.

A Word to the Wise “No matter how strategic you become... HR, at the end of the day, is about people - real people with real needs outside of their workplace.” Lyn comments that as HR professionals work toward strategic alliance with management, they cannot lose sight of the humanityside of their responsibilities.

Lessons Learned In her work, Lyn has learned that people, in general, are more alike than different, and that most employees are present to give their 100% effort. “They have a strong work ethic and want job satisfaction, decent wages, good benefits and respect.”


Child Guidance & Family Solutions Winner for Benefits

“When you stumble, make it part of the dance.”

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Tom Tomasula

The Lubrizol Corporation | Winner for Talent Management

Background “I got my start in HR unintentionally...” Although HR was the career Tom would have desired, he did not know it at the time during his education. After completing his Master’s Degree in Accounting and enrolling in a Ph.D. Accounting program, Tom called Brian Broadbent for some advice. Not certain he was headed down the right professional path, Tom shared that his interests were in helping individuals grow their careers and developing competencies and skill sets. “Brian, who initially hired me at Arthur Andersen, suggested I investigate a career in human resources. Sixteen years later, I am very thankful he made those suggestions – what a great career it has been since!”

Focus on Talent “Early on, I learned that every successful organization has a talented workforce.” In addition, Tom found that those talented employees are keyed in to the organization’s goals, and that those organizations reward their talent in a variety of ways. Tom also observed that while people are very interested in advancing their careers, they often don’t know how to develop their skill sets and their career. These lessons helped shape Tom’s desire to build a career around finding and retaining talent. “The bottom line – people are an organization’s most important asset, and I enjoy helping companies develop that asset and helping the asset become more valuable to the company.”

What does talent need to succeed? “Talent needs direct feedback delivered with empathy and caring. This will help bring about the personal change


needed for both individual and business success.” Tom compares delivering these messages to the conversations a parent gives their children. Whether the message is given for protection or encouragement, the reason is always the same... because they care. “The same mantra applies to business: show employees you care about them.” Tom feels that empathetic feedback has pointed out important blind spots in his own career. With this knowledge, Tom has made personal and professional improvements. As his actions changed, both his life and the business benefited.

Best Part of Work Tom enjoys finding talent (both internally and externally) that will move the organization forward, while also providing people an opportunity to grow their careers. He appreciates the work he does with business leaders to place talent in the right roles. “By working in HR, and more specifically talent management, I know that I can impact the business by hiring and deploying the most important asset - talent!”

A Word to the Wise Some important advice Tom gives his peers: • • • •

Care about your candidates, employees and business. Seek to understand the business you support. Be committed to excellence in the HR profession. Know that black and white rarely exists – work through the gray areas with your business. • Always be credible with your business. • Provide your advice – that is the only way to add value. • People drive your business – find great talent, hire them, and develop them.

Olga Nagdaseva

Cleveland State University | HR Student Winner

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Major & Degree Olga earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (in Management and Labor Relations) from Cleveland State University in May of this year. She is now working toward her Master of Business Administration, also at Cleveland State University. Her anticipated graduation date is in May of 2014.

Why HR? Olga says that her passion and enthusiasm for people led naturally to her career decision. Because people are a core asset of any organization, Olga feels that she can best utilize her strengths in making a difference as an HR professional. Though a career in HR will certainly present challenges, it will be rewarding as well. Olga’s goal is to become an important asset to her organization, making good use of her communication and leadership skills.

Student SHRM Chapter Involvement “I always strive to advance my business skills beyond the classroom.” Olga initially joined SHRM to learn about the HR field and to stay current with HR news. She is now Secretary for the CSU chapter, and helps to plan events, lead membership communication, and work on marketing initiatives. “Student leadership in SHRM greatly elevated my personal interest in the HR field, exposed me to current HR topics, and allowed me to establish professional connections.” Since becoming an engaged leader in her chapter, Olga has been selected for numerous opportunities to represent the Cleveland State Monte Ahuja College of Business at local and national events.


Some of these events include: • Monte Ahuja College of Business Dedication • Monte Ahuja College of Business AACSB Accreditation • Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Awards • Monte Ahuje College of Business Corporate Sustainability Roundtable • Net Impact National Conference • EEC Entrepreneurship Immersion Week

Internship Experience Olga currently works as a Sourcing Co-op for the Ridge Tool Company - a division of Emerson Electric. Through this opportunity, she’s learned some valuable lessons about the critical importance of supplier collaborations, and the dedication to quality, innovation and teamwork. “This internship is a tremendous opportunity and also a job that I enjoy.”

Future Goals Short-term, Olga would like to focus on her professional development, obtain certifications, and continue active involvement in SHRM and other professional organizations. Long-term, her goals include applying and combining her passions for HR management and sustainable business practices. She wants to work toward improving the NEO region to benefit the local business community. Ideally, Olga hopes to emerge in the leadership of a locally-based global organization.

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Jeff Hudson PolyOne Corporation | Winner for Technology

Background As a young person growing up in West Virginia, Jeff became interested in the relationship between the United Mine Workers and coal companies. With the original goal of becoming a union negotiator, Jeff pursued an education in industrial relations. Ultimately, he found his passion elsewhere in the HR field, but that is what first interested him.

How is technology critical to HR? “From the earliest days of my professional career, I’ve been drawn to technology as a mechanism to improve efficiency and effectiveness in HR.” As an intern, Jeff was asked to review personnel files, gathering one piece of information from each. While going through the stacks of files, he quickly came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way! By the end of the summer, Jeff had created a database to track information in the future. “From those days as an intern all the way through my career, I’ve had a passion for improving processes with technology.”

HR Inspiration One of Jeff’s first assignments as a relatively green HR generalist was coordinating the downsizing of a group of very tenured employees. Jeff says it was a rather daunting task that weighed heavily on him. By the end of the process, he questioned if HR was truly his calling. One of the affected associates visited Jeff on their last day, thanking him for the help with answering questions about severance and benefits. The associate appreciated Jeff for handling the situation with professionalism and compassion.


“His words had a lasting impact on me and inspire me to stay in HR - even when we have to execute difficult or thankless tasks.”

Current Trends Jeff remarks that social networking is certainly one of the hottest topics in HR technology. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are changing the face of the recruiting process, while enterprise social networks like Chatter are making it possible for virtual collaboration amongst employees across the globe. Another trend Jeff mentions is ‘the cloud’. “Software as a Service (SaaS) models allow companies to run software for essentially every aspect of the HR function - without building the infrastructure themselves.” “Acquisitions of cloud-based companies like Success Factors and Taleo by traditional software companies like SAP and Oracle (respectively) signal the industry’s shift to this model.”

Lessons Learned Jeff has learned that an individual’s success is interdependent on those around them. In addition to being a strong individual performer, he states that you also need competent leaders and capable teammates to achieve true success. Jeff sites that he’s witnessed very smart, talented people fail - simply because they had an ineffective leader or insufficient support. “I’m fortunate to have an incredibly effective, supportive boss, a highly talented IT partner, and hard-working team members who make it possible for me to be successful in my role. I wouldn’t be receiving this award without them!”

Jerry Torma Background Jerry got his start in HR with similar work for the US Peace Corps as a volunteer in Iran. “The most primitive form of mankind’s belief in the future and himself/ herself is the ability to trade something with another.” Jerry states that HR is the exposure to the people-side of commerce. Thus, he likens HR to a means of resolving conflict... which is a stated mission of the Peace Corps. “In a humble way, this is my life-long vocation. For many of us in Global HR, we have much more than merely just a career or a job; we have a vocation that is the cornerstone of our ‘life’s work’.”

Focus on Global HR Jerry first became interested in Global HR as an international exchange student in Israel, being exposed to international cultures and protocols. “What is most inspiring to me are the faces, people, and ideas that I discovered early in Israel in the Old City... and that I continue to discover later in my career through business travel to 62 countries.”

HR Inspiration Jerry says that international business trips, like one he took with Eric Nord (one of the founders of Nordson Corporation), help him stay inspired to remain in HR. “I have learned a great deal from Eric Nord and other Nordson executives. They remind me to pass along my knowledge and experience through mentoring.” Jerry comments that many of his early mentees are now mentors to a new generation of global business leaders. He firmly believes in the US Peace Corps motto, “If you give a person a fish, they won’t be hungry for a day; if you teach a person how to catch fish, they won’t be hungry for a lifetime.”

Best Part of Work Jerry notes that the best parts of his job include developing and implementing programs that contribute to increased sales. He loves the fact that these programs directly result in increased jobs for the US and countries across the globe. “It is gratifying to see the positive impact on people - seeing them build families and life-long relationships with a value system that stands the test of time.”

Current trends “The most prevalent trend in Global HR is the increased diversity of candidates seeking and qualified for expatriate assignments; and/or becoming Global HR executives.” Jerry comments that as US-based Global HR leaders, we are challenged to fully appreciate the diversity of cultures and candidates within each country. Additionally, Jerry believes that we must compromise on meeting the needs of a new generation while also incorporating traditional and cultural values.


Nordson Corporation Winner for Global HR

Lessons Learned “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” Jerry describes an experience when Nordson recruited a Chinese student graduating from Thunderbird. The recruit showed up on his first day of work at Nordson’s office in Amherst, Ohio wearing a black suit and bright white socks. Jerry’s first thought was to admonish him to change his bright white socks... however, Jerry instead asked him about the socks. The recruit proudly responded that he had been raised by his grandmother in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution when his intellectual parents were sent to the countryside to perform manual farm labor. When he left China to come to Thunderbird, his grandmother gave him a pair of bright white handmade socks. She asked him to wear these socks on his first day of professional work in the US. His grandmother had passed just before his Thunderbird graduation, but he honored her memory by wearing the socks on his first day of work at Nordson. Jerry then invited the young man to join him for a cup of Chinese green tea and to hear more about his grandmother. “When he returned to the office later that morning, his grandmother could see his bright white socks...”

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Main Street Gourmet | Winner for Diversity Background Kelly created the HR Department at Main Street Gourmet in 1999. At the time, Kelly states they were growing quickly and there were few resources for employees. She pitched the idea to her CEO, and the rest is history!

Focus on Diversity Kelly has a keen interest in individuals and their unique cultures and backgrounds. She says that each individual and their story gives a new perspective to the workplace.

(The Mon people are natives to the country of Burma, and their culture is being eliminated.) After Kelly gained approval for the classes, the Akron Mon Community Group extended an appreciation of their gratitude for allowing families to learn freely of their culture and history. Kelly says that a small effort on the company’s part had a great impact on the Mon employees and their families.

Best Part of Work

Meeting so many interesting and unique people has helped bring inspiration and opportunity to the company and its employees.

“Seeing someone grow into his or her potential, and watching them succeed is extremely rewarding. They’re happy and we are too!”

Kelly believes that focusing on diversity helps the community and makes a profound and positive impact in your workplace culture.

Lessons Learned

HR Inspiration “The opportunity to touch so many lives has inspired me to stay in HR.” Kelly cites an opportunity she had a few years ago, when one of the Mon employees asked to use a company location to hold culture education classes.

Kelly remarks that while every experience has taught her something important, these are some of the key pieces she’s kept along the way: • Believe in people. • Believe in their abilities and their desire to grow. • Trust and maintain connections with your workforce. • Develop strong teams.



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HR Trends Special Edition: 2012 HR Award Winners  
HR Trends Special Edition: 2012 HR Award Winners  

Highlighting the achievements and inspirations of twelve outstanding HR leaders from the NEO community.