Editor’s note: The winner of the Chief Officer Awards Public Company CHRO Award announced June 17 is Tammy Heller of Perspecta.
On June 17, WashingtonExec will be virtually celebrating the most impactful and innovative C-suite executives in government and industry. These chief officers work in technology, security, data, operations, finance, business and more, excelling on both sides of the government contracting sector. Our team of judges have chosen the finalists for the inaugural Chief Officer Awards, so before we announce the winners during the event, we wanted to get to know the finalists a bit better. This Q&A series highlights their careers, successes, proud professional moments and notable risks.
Lindsay Weissbratten is chief human resource officer at Siemens Government Technologies and a finalist in the Public Company CHRO Award Category.
What key achievements did you have in 2019?
I joined in August 2019 and have been leading an expansion and enhancement of critical human resources functions for the company through a Focus on You initiative, where we are systematically developing human capital solutions and programming to better serve our workforce based on their feedback through surveys and multiple engagement forums with our CEO. Programming has included items such as revamping onboarding processes and improving new hire orientation, to recognition forums, mentoring, employee development and much more.
Our efforts all tie back to the simple but powerful premise that an employee’s connection to our company begins on their very first day of work and is continuously reaffirmed through opportunities to grow, learn and be recognized for their contributions to the success of the business.
What has made you successful in your current role?
While hard work and continuous learning have supported my professional growth and development, there is one informal mentor that I can point to throughout my career that has been pivotal in providing me with guidance. As one of my former managers, she was also an individual who led by example. I remain in touch with her today and know she is always in my corner.
In addition to her, my parents have always believed in me. Their confidence in me translated later in life to confidence I grew within myself to achieve goals I set out for.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
From a personal perspective, roughly four years ago, we almost lost our youngest child due to a life-threatening food allergy. Twice in one week. It was the kind of experience that shakes you to your core and leaves you numb.
When I have been faced with hardship, I try to pause and find the positive in it. While this was a personal experience, having witnessed the fragility of life has impacted me professionally as a leader. In today’s world, the demands are never ending. They will always be there and it is important to work to your fullest potential.
However, part of working to your fullest potential is ensuring that life does not pass you by without your participation. One of my more senior employees reached out to me in a prior role and explained how important it is to the future generation to see strong leaders value family and do their best to balance success.
I try to remind myself of the importance of leading by example and how I can help my staff and others be the best they can be professionally and personally through my own actions.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
This spring, our team has been involved in helping the Army retrofit locations into hospitals to serve communities in need due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am proud to be a part of Siemens and the amazing things the company is doing at one of the most unique times in history. From health care infrastructure, to the development of antibody testing, we are truly making a difference when it matters the most.
One of our key strategic goals at SGT is ensuring we have a dedicated focus on being a good neighbor in the communities where our employees work and live and encourage them to leverage our Volunteer Time Off Program.
This spring, being a good neighbor took on a whole new meaning. Our employees have been giving back to their communities through activities such as making masks, printing face shields on 3D printers, donating plasma, caring for the elderly to volunteering at food banks.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
When I think about serving an organization as an HR leader, I’m reminded about our unique ability to navigate the business perspective and the priorities and challenges of an organization while also having the ability to influence the future of the company through successful talent management programming.
With successful human capital leadership, HR has the ability to impact the daily lives of the workforce, enhance job satisfaction and propel the organization’s productivity and success. It is a wonderful thing to know that our employees make our nation stronger, more effective and more efficient. From an HR perspective, helping to recruit top talent and ensure we maintain healthy turnover is critical to our success in serving government customers.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
After more than a decade with a well-known government contracting firm in the area, I decided to take a leap of faith and exit the organization as part of a spinoff. I went from an HR staff of one in 17 days to a team of 20, led the rebuilding and design of all of our policies, procedures, systems and programming while doubling our headcount internationally in the first four months.
In addition, on our very first day as a standalone organization, we acquired another company that I was charged with helping to fold in. I remember telling my team this will be the experience of a lifetime and like no other job they’ve ever had.
This was a time when I left the comfort and low-risk environment I had been a part of for over a decade for what many saw was a huge risk. There were so many unknowns and uncertainty. I have zero regrets and have grown so much since then as an individual, as a leader and as a HR professional.
The new experiences I’ve gained have changed me as a person and as a leader and helped broaden my potential impact for the organizations I have worked for since then.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
During one of my positions at General Dynamics, I was charged with leading employee engagement and development. My team and I launched a resource for our employees called Dynamic Development. It was an amazing resource ahead of its time and best practices that provided employees with a holistic view of their development – from traditional job changes to on the job development to emotional intelligence development.
It tied our recruitment, compensation ladder system and learning programs together in one place with exercises and resources embedded throughout that were tailored and customized specifically for our workforce. I worked closely with a vendor who helped us embed a behavioral competency tool within our intranet and later modeled our work creation into future offerings for their customers, even a decade-plus later.