HR Excellence Award goes to four HR leaders


Each Innovator Spearheaded Impactful Change

SANTA CLARA CONVENTION CENTER—(MAY 2, 2013)—The HR Symposium 2013 Awards Committee recognized four innovation champions this year citing diverse initiatives that helped produce positive, fundamental change within their organizations.

  • Tiffany McGee, Vice President of Human Resources for Global Sales for the Enterprise Group at Hewlett-Packard
  • Dorothy J. Smith, Human Resource Academic Program Director for Golden Gate University
  • Amelia Merrill, Vice President Global Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement at RMS
  • Katie Scott, Director of Global Compensation at LSI Corp

The annual Excellence Award recognizes a team or individual that has championed an innovative human resource program, an idea or a system that has produced positive, fundamental change. It recognized people whose ideas have led to a major business impact within their organization. Nominations are solicited from the HR Community throughout the year. The selection committee includes the prior year’s award winners.

“For 27 years these awards have recognized extraordinary achievement in the human resource profession,” said Deborah Morton, chair of the HR Symposium Award Committee. It was no easy task this year as there were a number of strong and impressive nominations this year, Morton said.

Tiffany McGee of HP wins HR Excellence Award

Sales Productivity Initiative to Develop “Best Sales Force On The Planet”

In the midst of a significant, company-wide transformation involving strategy, brand and culture, Tiffany McGee, Vice President of HR for Global Sales in the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Group, set out to elevate a sales team of more than 18,000. Her mission was simple: develop “the best sales force on the planet focused on productivity and engagement.”

Coming out of a huge transformation of its sales organization where organization and roles were being redefined in the HP culture “was a great time to focus in on engaging and evolving the productivity of our teams,” McGee said.

The plan involved identifying 85 “Pride Builders,” top performing individuals and motivational leaders in the organization and articulating the behaviors that made them successful. McGee said she worked with a great team at HP and with the Booz consulting group. Her team identified “change agents” and helped them tell their stories to grow and create a high performance culture.

The company is integrating winning behaviors into sales tools improvement activities and a pilot group of 300 sales reps are linking the behaviors into a sales coaching tool that can be utilized in real time. Managers can help coach teams with ideas suggested for each phase of the sales cycle.

“This increased coaching focus with specific recommendations and tools from the Pride Builders also serves as a great bank of resources,” said Tony DeBlauwe, who presented the award to McGee. DeBlauwe, founder of HR4Change, is a career strategist, workplace coach and author. He received an Excellence Award in 2012.

McGee said the idea was to identify specific behaviors driving higher success and engage the organization around new roles and culture.

“From interviews and focus groups, we were able to distill these behaviors and identify formal and informal ways to spread these behaviors,” McGee said.  The program is now in the implementation phase. Leaders and teams are working to spread the behaviors across the organization.

Several things differentiate the project, McGee said.

  • A strong analysis that can be tied to performance.
  • A focus on engaging the mind and heart through Pride Builders.
  • An effort to focus on motivators, people who inspire others rather than just top performers, and people whose stories could be tied back to the Voice of the workforce.
  • A balance of focus on formal metrics and informal storytelling and behaviors.
  • The effort to ensure things stick by addressing systemic reasons behind many behaviors.
  • The identification of behaviors set apart by a specific role.

“It is truly an honor in such an esteemed group of creative, inspiring HR leaders as we have seen today and every year,” McGee said.

GGU’s Dorothy J. Smith Recognized for Excellence

HR Management Academic Programs Flourished Under Smith’s Leadership

Dorothy J. Smith, director of HR Management Programs at Golden Gate University, received the HR Excellence Award this year for her years of passionate and effective leadership in building a top-notch, nationally certified HR degree program. Her academic life follows a distinguished professional career in the field.

Since Smith, a GGU alumna, took the helm as program director when there were just 34 HR students. The program now serves about 250 students, and produced 111 graduates this year.

“Not only does she interact with each (of 42 adjunct professors) on academic and student issues, she challenges them to raise the bar each time a course is taught,” said Tony DeBlauwe, who presented her with the award on Thursday. “She singlehandedly networked and used her charms to strategically expand the programs to become second in enrollments.”

Smith is responsible for elevating the reputation of the program in the business community. It is one of 42 Human Resource Management programs worldwide to be recognized as being fully aligned with the curriculum guidebook of the Society for Human Resource Management.

“I was very fortunate that I have found my niche in a profession of 40 years at an early stage of my career,” Smith said. “I’m still as passionate about it as I was on the first day I engaged in this discipline.”

After receiving her graduate degree in HR from GGU, Smith went on to work with Pacific Bell for 28 years, where she was Executive Staff Manager before taking an early retirement and migrating to academia. She began a second career in 1994 as an adjunct lecturer at GGU. She earned a Golden Gate University Senior Adjunct Faculty Award 2010. She is also principal of Designing Judicious Solutions consulting firm and has consulted with both mid-size and large corporations. GGU now keeps her busy, but she maintains a current business consulting license for her firm. She attained partial Certified Employee Benefits Specialist certification and has held Senior Professional in HR certification for the past 20 years. She is completing a DBA with a concentration in HR.

“As many of you know, this discipline is not an easy journey to manage, but the rewards outweigh the cost,” Smith said. “I will continue to make a difference in the world of HR.”

True to form, Smith encouraged her audience to consider paying internships for her students.

“If you are in need of a qualified intern, preferably with pay, please contact me and I will provide you with one.”

Amelia Merrill of RMS Wins Excellence Award

Spearheaded Company Board Game to Promote Understanding of Company

The ability to create a winning game as a recruiting tool won Amelia Merrill, Vice President Global Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement at Risk Management Solutions (RMS) the Excellence Award for 2013.

Her challenge was to hire a significant number of technical talent versed in the newest tools and programming languages for a company that had little name recognition in Silicon Valley.

“Amelia knew her team was going to have to work really hard to find creative solutions to connect with potential candidates,” said Brad Cook, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for Informatica. Cook, who received the award last year, presented the award to Merrill.

Merrill, he said, overhauled the company’s careers site so potential talent would easily understand what RMS does. She humanized the company on the site and highlighted its cool technology. She then decided to take a risk, partnering with a top-selling mobile game making company that featured RMS as an expert/character in a game called Plague Inc. It was a way to introduce the RMS brand in subtle and professional ways.

“A conservative estimate is that the RMS brand has received over 50 million impressions as a result of this game,” Cook said. “In the 12 months prior to Amelia joining the company, RMS hires averaged 12 per month. They now average 22 per month.”

Merrill also took ownership of a newly formed Employee Engagement function so her team could impact the retention of hires by strengthening their connection with the company post-hire. One of the first engagement projects was a trading card contest to reinforce company messaging and terminology related to its new direction.

They also implemented a token recognition program, a way that managers and peers can thank each other for a job well done. There are different tokens for different purposes, each with its own value. At the end of the fiscal year employees can trade tokens for prizes.

Merrill credited RMS executives for believing in innovation and risk taking as well as her team, saying they had good problems to solve such as keeping up with growth and competing for talent in a hot market. “How do we tell our incredible story to more people quickly?” She said it was amazing what one can do with autonomy.

“It was a risk, putting branding in a game, and they supported me the entire way,” she said. “Lastly, I want to say thank you to all to all of you,” Merrill said. “I am super-competitive. When I come to these conferences and hear all the ideas, I think I’m a slacker and how do I implement some of these ideas? Thank you for pushing forward and keeping me in the game.”

Katie Scott Championed Compensation Changes At LSI Corp.

Transparency and Catch The Spark Program Ushered In Positive Change

Katie Scott, Director of Global Compensation at LSI Corp., received the Excellence Award for her acumen in restructuring her company’s compensation program after a complex global acquisition.

“There were different philosophies, programs and standards being used to compensate the two organizations’ global employees,” said Brad Cook who presented Scott with the award.

The complex acquisition involved 4,800 different job titles with different numbers of job levels and grading structures around the world. There was no way to compare employees and their jobs across functions and countries. Recognition was cash-only in most locations and because it typically appeared in employee paychecks, it limited the company’s ability to use it to shape organizational culture and reinforce company values.

“One of Katie’s guiding principles was transparency which enabled her to win the trust from everyone she’s worked with,” Cook said. “The impact on business has been impressive.”

Four major accomplishments include:

  • ·         Implementing global leveling across more than 20 countries,
  • ·         Instituting a new recognition program,
  • ·         Elevating the credibility of Human Resources, and
  • ·         Increasing the compensation education of management and employees. 

Scott created a globally consistent, easy to use, culture of strategic recognition that supported company values. The Catch the Spark recognition program was born.

“Katie’s expertise and clear communications style have enabled her to win the trust and respect of everyone she works with,” said Jean Rankin, LSI chief counsel.

In more than three years, there have been no major executive losses and employee attrition has dropped almost 2 percent. In surveys, compensation programs have been rated as being highly important and highly effective and rated highest of all HR programs according to vice presidents, directors and managers.

“We were able to implement these programs because LSI has proven to be an organization willing to adopt new ideas and implement process improvements,” Scott said. “Successful program introduction requires an understanding of the business need, the identification of a clear and compelling solution, the ability to market that solution and then the passion within the entire cross-functional HR organization to make it so!”

Scott said she has been fortunate in her career, in part because she has been coached by incredible HR leaders. “In each of my roles, I have learned important lessons,” she said, citing two favorites: Cheap, Good, Fast. Choose Two; and, Check everything with a calculator.

“By observing the skills of these leaders, I have learned how to build and develop strong teams, and work hard to interact successfully with key constituents, inside and outside HR,” Scott said. “I have also benefitted from a strong network of professionals, many of who are in the room and who have been so open to sharing information, ideas and career guidance.”

The award, Scott said, “represents the collective talent of my network, my management, my company and, particularly, my team.”

Awards Committee members included committee chair Deborah Morton, HR director at Anritsu, Jessica Sneed, senior marketing manager at Synopsis, Gina DiCarlo, manager, talent offerings at DataDirect Networks, and Keli Gaines, senior HR business partner at Broadcom.

The Awards Committee collects nominations from the HR community throughout the years. The committee convenes with recipients of the previous year in early April to select winners. The selection committee may choose to reward multiple nominations a year. For more information, go to


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