Speaker Spotlight: Emily Pitts, Principal, Inclusion & Diversity, Edward Jones

Speaker Spotlight: Emily Pitts, Principal, Inclusion & Diversity, Edward Jones

This week's HR Management Institute Canada’s Speaker Spotlight features Emily Pitts, Principal, Inclusion & Diversity at Edward Jones, who will be one of the HR Leaders on a panel discussing “Leveraging Inclusion & Diversity to Drive Business Success”.

We had the chance to catch up with Emily this week to ask her a few questions about her role, her career and her advice for aspiring HR Leaders.  This is what she shared with us:


Speaker Spotlight: Dean Sockett, VP, People & Culture, Keg Restaurants

Speaker Spotlight: Dean Sockett, VP, People & Culture, Keg Restaurants

This week's HR Management Institute Canada’s Speaker Spotlight features Dean Sockett, VP, People & Culture at Keg Restaurants, who will be leading a session on “Sizzling, Storytelling, Serving: Focusing on the Employee Experience to Stretngthen your EVP and Drive Engagement”.

We had the chance to catch up with Dean this week to ask her a few questions about his role, his career and his advice for aspiring HR Leaders.  This is what he shared with us:

Speaker Spotlight: Tammi Jones, Director, HR – Organizational Change, Alcoa Corporation

Speaker Spotlight: Tammi Jones, Director, HR – Organizational Change, Alcoa Corporation

This week's HR Management Institute Canada’s Speaker Spotlight features Tammi Jones, Director, HR – Organizational Change at Alcoa Corporation, who will be leading a session on “Post-Spinoff Considerations: Managing Change and the Strategic Direction of the New Entity”.

We had the chance to catch up with Tammi this week to ask her a few questions about her role, her career and her advice for aspiring HR Leaders.  This is what she shared with us:

Why Transforming Managers into Leaders Shouldn't Be Left to Chance

Guest Post: Simon Rakosi, co-founder, Butterfly

A common convention of fairy tales is for ordinary characters to make extraordinary transformations, acquiring impressive powers and competencies—sometimes overnight. I know what you’re thinking: if only developing talent were so easy.

For HR teams, nurturing and developing leadership talent isn’t merely a competitive advantage: it’s life or death in hypercompetitive industries and markets. Yet too often we expect these types of soft skills will be obtained magically, through osmosis perhaps, similar to what takes place in our favorite fairy tales.

Much has been written about leadership training—why it’s important and why we too often wait far too long to train our managers—but what about the crucial metamorphosis that occurs when a manager becomes a leader?

It’s on HR teams to recognize the differences between a manager and a leader, and identify the transformations that are required in the development of an effective leader. Here are a few key distinctions:

Managers educate around skills and tasks; leaders inspire around a vision.

When an employee first becomes a manager, their role is frequently described as an opportunity to scale their skills or talents across multiple people. While a good manager will figure out how to achieve this, a true leader understands his or her role in communicating the broader team and company vision to each employee so that they understand their place in the bigger picture. This encourages individual contributors to be more proactive when it comes to ideas that will move the needle for the broader team and business.

At our startup, we bring this concept to life through regular town halls in which we transparently articulate our vision to all levels of the organization, from co-founders like myself to interns. We also encourage employees to spend up to 20 percent of their time collaborating on teams and projects outside of their “regular” jobs, so that they may gain important access into the broader blueprint of the company.

Managers view their employees in silos; leaders focus on team dynamics.

One of the early steps a new manager will take is to schedule and host one-on-one meetings with employees. Of course the goal of any effective manager is to monitor the productivity and growth of each of his or her team members—but when it comes to becoming a leader, managers should also be able to view their team’s progress and dynamics as a unit.

This is where soft skill development can really come into play. Studies have shown that EQ is a greater indicator of leadership success than IQ, yet few organizations invest in training around empathy. One reason could be that empathy is a difficult skill to grasp, and it’s not so easily “coached,” yet just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it should be neglected. Providing simple training exercises around active listening can go a long way, for example.

Managers delegate tasks; leaders develop people.

This is important. One mistake new managers can make is to view their increased responsibilities through the lens of a delegator instead of an educator. Delegation is critical to scaling talents, as we’ve gone over in the first point, but truly the most important capacity of a leader is people development.

Unfortunately, while managing projects and assigning tasks is quite intuitive, understanding how to read, educate and inspire employees to grow is a much more nuanced ask. Companies can help new managers on this journey by showing them how to collaborate with team members on their personal career plans and providing guidance when it comes to the cadence and format of their progress updates and goal-setting.

Managers listen; leaders listen and act.

Finally, a true leader will not only collect employee ideas and feedback on a regular basis, but he or she will also find ways to act on that data. It’s not enough to demonstrate to employees that you are listening. Making the move from manager to leader means identifying and escalating employee feedback quickly, and helping initiate real change based on those insights. In other words, showing your team you’re listening is much more powerful than telling them you are.

Here’s an example from one of our partners at Butterfly. Using our employee intelligence and management coaching software, a junior employee at a large ecommerce entertainment company proactively suggested a company-wide bus program to help employees get to work more efficiently. Recognizing this feedback as not only warranted, but also quite astute, the manager helped push the idea up the chain of command. Just weeks later, the office instituted a bus program for all of its employees.

During a time when job automation is not an “if,” but rather a widely accepted “when,” HR teams face an important challenge when it comes to helping managers grow into leaders.

The impact of a strong leader has the potential to scale tremendously–and this transformation can (and should) take place at all levels. As such, HR teams should invest more in leadership coaching to managers of all levels, not just executives.

Questions about Butterfly or management coaching in general? I would love to continue the conversation. Please reach out to

Q&A with Ricoh USA, Inc.

Our HR conference, the HR Management Institute, took place in February 2016. The initiative was a great success and we were lucky to have spent the 2 ½ days with incredible CHROs and VPs of HR from America’s leading organizations. Additionally, we had an amazing speaker panel and had the privilege of hosting Donna Venable, EVP of HR, and Michael Jones, VP, HR, US Field Operations, from Ricoh USA, Inc. The duo shared their insights on how HR is playing a strategic role in Ricoh’s evolving transformation and their speaker session was one of the highest rated at the program, as attendees found their content extremely valuable.

We sat down with Donna Venable and Michael Jones from Ricoh to learn more. Take a look at our Q&A below!


1.     When did Ricoh’s HR team decide it was time to make its own transformation and what did the team do to initiate the transformation?

The HR2020 transformation primarily focused on our HR field delivery teams. Ricoh HR was, and continues to be, on an evolutionary journey. We’ve explored outsourcing recruiting and benefits administration, adopted strategic business partners aligned to our senior most organization leaders and we’ve centralized many transactional areas. We’ve also realized that, on the backend of supporting a number of business integrations, functional structure/alignment changes, as well as the organization’s overall cultural transformation and adoption, we could pause from those engagements and focus specifically on our field delivery team.

The HR2020 transformation had a few catalyst points, including engagement of C-suite business leaders to share how we envisioned greater support and business impact through a more efficient field delivery structure. We also engaged cross-functional senior HR leaders and field HR leaders from the beginning so they could contribute to every aspect of the vision and play an active role in the creation of our roadmap.

2.     Can you share some of the points of Ricoh’s HR2020 initiative?

In no specific order:

  • Evaluate and identify gaps in HR services or HR delivery
  • Incorporate cross-functional collaboration
  • Define decision governance (including conflict resolution)
  • Implement a dedicated project manager/leader
  • Implement a talent assessment review for new roles and expectations
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate; we chose to communicate often using various communication vehicles - email, face-to-face, group calls, video
  • Engage external consultant for independent perspective

3.     What challenges did Ricoh face when implementing new technologies?

We didn’t experience what may be considered typical challenges with implementation. What we found was a greater need to collaborate and coordinate with other stakeholders, i.e. IT, business functions, that also had other high priority activities with similar key resource groups. This collaboration ensured linkage across the entire HR organization.

We also spent considerable time working through access, license distribution, cross team interfacing (i.e. - benefits, employee relations).

We simplified the complexity of implementing and introducing new functionality by building new technology into our overall project plan versus leaving it as an IT-owned project. We were also able to utilize IT knowledge/experience with newer technology platforms already in use with IT, thus contributing to an easier on ramp.

4.     What was the best takeaway for Ricoh from the HR Management Institute?

Honestly, we have discussed several. In general, we thought the quality of speakers and their topics were very good and timely, and we feel several of the sponsor/vendor connections will provide us the opportunity to explore further enhancements to our HR services. We also felt a number of the network connections will allow for best practice sharing, and we did identify 4 action/best practices that we are actively working to implement.


Every year we host two HR programs and our second one for 2016 will be taking place July 17th to 19th at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA. Registration is officially open to attend. If you are interested in collaborating and engaging in innovative discussions on how to improve your HR strategies and workplace with CHROs and VPs of HR like yourself, join today and secure your spot.