The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced March 17, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person May 10.
Next is Chief Human Resources Officer finalist in the Private Company category Dave Fink, senior vice president of human resources and CHRO for CAES. Here, he talks key achievements, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2022/2023?
I am proud of the CAES Human Resources team’s professional work and influence to implement many new talent and leadership initiatives ⏤ some of which include:
- Acting on “stay” interview and exit interview data with increased focus on development, career planning, and front-line leaders.
- Creating an “early career” team from all divisions to identify and recommend actions to enhance culture and increase retention. This team ultimately presented their recommendations to the CAES Board of Directors and top leadership which resulted in significant new benefits offerings added in 2023. This, combined with the action on stay and exit interview info, reduced voluntary attrition rates.
- Initiating a revamped high potential program where participants were selected/assigned to a company “problem”, recommend solutions, receive mentoring and coaching, and network with top executives. Feedback from the program is very positive.
- Supporting the acceleration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities to increase CAES’ sense of belonging:
- Selected motivated Director-level and leaders from each of the CAES sites and created a DE&I Steering Committee, led by a female engineering executive.
- Enabled DE&I Steering Committee to engage with the CEO and work on establishing short-term goals and priorities (training, listening sessions, leadership level diversity, etc.).
- Supported the organic startup of Employee Resource Groups ⏤ CAESVets and RENEW (women’s pilot program).
What has made you successful in your current role?
Any success is attributed to the team around me. I love to empower team members, seek out individual strengths, and nurture them to be their best. Building relationships at all levels of an organization has consistently been a strength.
I am naturally curious and courageous. Being raised with a strong work ethic, I strive to do more than what is expected (not just what I’m asked/told to do).
As a result, I’m fortunate to have been given stretch opportunities that built a very broad base of experience having worked for multiple large Fortune/Global companies in multiple locations across my career. This has helped build, engage and coach a strong team.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
I urge individuals to be constantly curious, be a hungry learner, and error on the side of action. You must know how to get results, but eventually you will need someone above you to open doors and pull you up the organization ⏤ who needs to know you? Performance and relationships both matter.
Don’t expect to grow by staying in one place. Growth occurs when you move out of your comfort zone – another function, geography, or company. Nothing prepares you better.
Finally, determine the boundaries you must have in your life. Decide what you are not willing to sacrifice before you’ve already done so. There will be sacrifices to climb the ladder ⏤ and everything worthwhile will be uphill so decide early how much is enough.