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Director of HR
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA
PLEASE SHARE MORE ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE AND RESPONSIBLITIES.:
As a leadership team member, I have actively built Baker McKenzie’s Global Service Center in Tampa. In this role, I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with the Executive Director to develop the center’s business strategy, vision, and mission to achieve synergy for the global firm and organizational success. As Tampa was a brand new center four years ago, I had the unique opportunity to play an active role in establishing a purpose-driven culture and build a compelling EVP that has served us well in promoting the center as a top workplace in the Tampa Bay Area.
In addition, I am responsible for providing overall leadership and guidance to the People function in Tampa, which also includes recruitment, compensation, performance management, leadership and learning, and people systems. I partner daily with the other Global Center HR Directors to develop and execute people strategies supporting the overall business plan and strategic direction of the centers, focusing on building an engaged and high-performing workforce.
Lastly, the People team is going through a significant transformation. We are re-evaluating our business model and implementing HR technology that will allow us to operate more strategically. I am the Regional Lead for NAO and Centers. I am also on the Compensation and Change Management workstream and lead the Global Benefits workstream.
WHY WERE YOU LOOKING TO GET AN MBA?:
I decided in 2020 to return to school (after a long time being out). Reflecting on my career, I have been fortunate to have held various roles. Each of them presented stretch opportunities and allowed me to grow differently. However, something needed to be added. My skills needed a refresh, especially my business skills.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
Regretfully, I have no changes here. However, I have been asked to be a change champion and the lead for the Global Benefits workstream. Fingers crossed that once the decisions for our new operating model are finalized, that will lead to a role change or a promotion.
DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE? PLEASE EXPLAIN.:
I have applied the learnings from Finance I and II when talking to the Finance leaders and others at my firm. It has allowed me to demonstrate that I have the financial acumen and understand how the firm makes money. One Finance leader told me, “For someone in HR, you understand the finance side of the business pretty well.” I took that as a huge compliment.
LOOKING BACK AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AN ONLINE PROGRAM WHEN YOU FIRST EMBARKED, WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION NOW? DID IT MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS VIA DQ BOARDS, EOP VIDEOS, FACULTY ETC?:
Fortunately, my husband was a professor at the school before and during my tenure in the program. As a result, I had a good idea of what to expect. However, like with anything else, the reality can be different. The program exceeded my expectations, from the engagement of the professors to the content of each course.
HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?:
I was worried about how I would balance getting an MBA while working full-time in a demanding job. The best strategy for anyone considering this program is to set aside the dedicated time to complete high-quality work. This will allow you to ensure you are getting the most out of the program.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.:
It is hard to narrow this down to just one. There are several that stand out. First would be Professor Shaw. Finance is not my forte, and it scares me a bit. He had a way of breaking things down to what I would call “Finance For Dummies.” Watching his videos helped things click with me. The second one would be Dr. Anatasia. She provided feedback that connected with her experience, gave you something to think about, and brought a sense of humor. Lastly would be Dr. Napier. She always responded and provided feedback promptly.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM?:
My biggest reward is that I validated that I can do anything I put my mind to. There were many times I wanted to give up because it was hard to balance everything. However, I pushed through because I knew the reward would be worth it. The program provides many valuable tools and resources.
I look forward to referring to these throughout my leadership journey as I lead, coach, and mentor others.
IN JUST A FEW WORDS, DESCRIBE WHAT “LEADERSHIP” MEANS TO YOU.:
Leadership is about the agility to navigate unpredictable headwinds. It is about rolling up your sleeves and collaborating with your team and others on whom you need to depend to get things done. Great leaders empower others, show appreciation, value diversity of thought, and listen (and act where possible) to improve the overall employee experience. Lastly, leaders inspire others to do great things they didn’t know they could do.
PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.:
The best piece of advice I would give is what I practiced myself. Set aside the dedicated time to complete high-quality work. This will allow you to ensure you are getting the most out of the program. Work ahead where you can because life happens. While JWMI gives you a grace period, you don’t get these at work. If you commit to meeting a deadline at work and don’t deliver, you don’t get to ask for more time. Take this program as seriously as you take your job.
Connect with Renee Agler on LinkedIn
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