Michael Richards is a Senior HR Representative with PepsiCo Inc, one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. Prior to beginning his career with PepsiCo, Michael spent time as a Management Consultant, Community Organizer, Academic Researcher, and Sales Associate. Michael has both a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and a Master, Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can find Michael’s Linkedin profile here.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
In my current role no day is the same and it requires a great deal of flexibility. In terms of training and experiences that have been very helpful i would cite three as major. First would be my business degree which provided a basic knowledge of business and developed the foundation for my problem solving skills and how I interpret the world around me. Second would be my previous job as a community organizer. This job forced me to adapt on the fly and be able to flex my methods of communication and general time management. Lastly the third would be my time spent studying abroad. The time abroad forced me outside of my comfort zone everyday and has made me more open to opinions different from my own, and it has made me more conscious of the underlying meaning in what one says and does.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
After a year at PepsiCo I have realized that there is always something that can make you better no matter how good you are or think you are at something. I would say at a basic level deeper understanding of your client group’s subject matter/business will always make you a more effective HR person no matter what level you are at within an organization.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
As mentioned above I believe all of those characteristics are held to varying degrees by all successful HR practitioners. In my role I would add that the ability to read between the lines and think of creative solutions is key. When serving my client group managers can get caught in the trap of “this is how we do this” and not have the time to pose the question “is this the best way to accomplish our goal?”.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
I believe the way to think about HR can be summarized in the picture I created below:
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
My job involves a great deal of influencing decisions by management and then designing or assisting in the design of the action plan as it relates to managing people. So I guess this could be considered indirect. Client group of approx 400.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
If my job was not being done well it would negatively impact every employee in the salary and hourly ranks at my sales, and manufacturing locations. I interact daily with managers from both groups and help them develop strategies for the business as well as provide guidance on labor issues.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
Overall my job is very safe. From time to time I am in a manufacturing area and there is dangerous equipment. As long as safety procedures are followed by all employees there is minimal if any risk.
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