Laura Giangiuli is the vice president of human resources at CALIBRE Systems, Inc. and is a Pinnacle Awards finalist in the HR Executive of the Year category. Here, she shares her key achievements from last year, the leadership traits that help her advance HR missions, what she is most proud of being involved in with CALIBRE and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2018?
2018 was the beginning of a transformational period in CALIBRE’s history that has been continuing through 2019. Organizationally, our president and CEO announced his retirement early in the year. A few months later, we transitioned in a new chief operating officer, and then simultaneously completed the due diligence for an acquisition in SPEAR, and a new president and CEO in Richard Pineda. Talk about an exercise in change management!
While all that was going on, we changed our approach to identifying, recruiting and hiring new talent. We built a new recruiting team from the ground up with monthly metrics and incentive compensation. Additionally, we evaluated all of our recruiting contracts and partners.
This exercise gave us the opportunity to recognize significant savings while improving recruiting tools and resources for our recruiters, but the most exciting part of this exercise was refreshing our employment branding and candidate experience.
What leadership traits helped you advance HR missions within your company?
Learning and understanding the business side of the company. It’s no longer enough to just know the employment/labor practices/IRS laws, regulations and benefit plans. HR needs to understand the company’s business and how our actions or inactions effect the business.
Partnering with the operating parts of the organization has allowed us to understand the connective tissue that ties HR to our client’s needs, and what levers can be pulled to deliver for our clients, and have financial success.
Making this connection at the leadership level has allowed me to make it a part of how our HR department works, thinks and interacts with the rest of the company. We are continuing to educate the HR team to dig deeper and understand the basic connection of unfilled positions to financial performance; to larger challenges like change management of everyday issues such as benefit plan changes to larger issues such as executive leadership change.
We aren’t just pushing paper or keeping CALIBRE legally compliant; we’re adding value and helping move the organization forward towards our goals every day.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Creating partnerships with the rest of the organization. HR is so often thought of as the “police” or the “principal’s office” and many within the company want to avoid HR at all costs. I’ve worked hard to create a department that is here to help the rest of the company achieve its mission by providing solutions, partnerships and of course guard rails when needed.
Changing our employee’s and leadership’s view of HR has opened opportunities to solve recruiting challenges, reduce turnover and provide new benefit plans. Leaders within the company seek my guidance and input on matters that traditionally were not HR actions such as: business development, M&A activity, strategic planning, and project risk reviews to name a few.
HR at CALIBRE is no longer just the department that hires, fires and manages the benefit plans but rather an integral part of the business operations.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
CALIBRE has a long-standing tradition and excellent track record of developing talent from within. We have so many wonderful examples of people who have literally gone from junior positions in the organization to executive management, myself included. Since becoming vice president of HR, we have really formalized, grown and developed a young professionals and a college internship program that focuses on the CALIBRE next generation.
We took these programs to the next step by partnering with GenesysWorks, an organization that provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences and impactful relationships. These high school interns have become shining examples of what we want all CALIBRE employees to be: genuine, hard working professionals, with a goal to continuously improve themselves.
These initiatives respect our company’s storied past, and ultimately shapes our future. What is more exciting than that?
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
Follow up is absolutely critical to achievement and success. Don’t assume a project is running on schedule. Don’t assume employees will come to you with questions or concerns. Don’t assume leadership knows what you are doing and/or has what they need. Follow up.
Follow up with the project team to ensure they are on track. Follow up to make sure they have the tools, resources and access they need to complete the project. Follow up with employees to see how they are doing, especially during stressful times or following a personnel issue. Follow up with leadership to keep them informed of what you and your team is working on, check in to see what assistance you or your team can offer. Everyone is busy, so make the time to check in and follow up.