Matt Seresin has nearly 2 years of HR Center of Excellence work experience. He has been a Program Manager in Research and Analytics as part of Global Learning at Xerox Corporation since April 2012. He graduated from University of Illinois’ School of Labor and Employment Relations with a Masters in Human Resources and Industrial Relations in December 2011. He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs and Asian Studies from The George Washington University. He has both studied and worked in the private and nonprofits sectors in China and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
Matt is passionate about the political, economic and social changes driven by globalization and their implications for human capital, particularly in Asia. If you include mention of this post, you can connect with him here on LinkedIn. In his spare time Matt enjoys classical music, computer games, reading, British humor, and leads a Bible study at his local church.
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?
For my current role they were looking for a relatively fresh graduate. However, having a Masters Degree and some internship experience certainly helped make sure my resume didn’t end up in the bin.
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
I’ve always been interested in learning/teaching; for a while I flirted with doing a Ph.D. in history mainly because I wanted to teach. However, in my Masters program I did not end up taking a class on Learning & Development. So when I showed up day one for an analyst position in learning, I had a lot of background reading to do.
The other main thing is presentation skills. This involves everything from crafting an appealing PowerPoint to knowing how to ask good questions to how to speak effectively both in person and virtually. This is essential for any kind of job role, and honestly for life. Thankfully I have had a number of opportunities to remedy this, both in formal learning and in hands on practice, but having more experience coming in would have helped.
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?
I would have to say “all of the above.” Currently I am working on a project to really promote the use of our Project Management learning resources. Analysis has been critical to identify the key reasons why things are not being used effectively. Communication (of all kinds) with everyone from our CHRO to team members to end users has been essential to this project from day one. My entire team/group is not co-located, meaning there’s a huge amount of autonomy. This project and my day to day responsibilities both require digesting a huge amount of information, but you need to pay close attention or you miss something.
More than anything else, going with the flow and being patient have been essential, although I freely admit this is an area in which I still need to grow. Living in a culture as different as China and learning the language really helped me cultivate both flexibility and patience. It is a skill I have put to good use in my HR career and in life. I do believe our generation can and will change the world, but change that matters does not occur overnight.
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?
Like the article said, every job has a mix of everything in it. I would have to say this job is predominately a “Thinker” position. It has been a good experience for me, really plays to my strengths I think (corny joke I know). I think all of us have a natural tendency to prefer one of these four styles of work.
That said, I definitely think it is important for everyone to spend some time in each of these kinds of positions, even if it is not your ambition to “reach the top” as it were. Getting out of your comfort zone not only is an incredible growth and learning opportunity…it helps you better understand and help people that are different than you.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
No. It is a Center of Excellence role so it does impact all 140,000 employees ultimately, but I have no direct supervisory or training responsibility.
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 were not being done well, no one would notice…tomorrow. A year or two from now, people in our learning group would gradually realize that we were behind the game in a few key learning areas. Five years from now and the folks out in places like Sales and Technical service would be scrambling to compete because their skills were not up to date and our senior leadership would really notice substantial gaps in performance.
Learning is far from the most glamorous part of corporate HR, let alone HR as a whole. But, in the words of my manager, it really is the “golden thread” that powers employee performance (and engagement) over the long term. The ability to learn quickly is essential in a world where the already rapid speed of change only gets faster every year. Xerox (almost) learned this lesson the hard way.
L&D at our company and in general is moving from being the providers of knowledge to the ones that enable the workforce to learn. This means our job is becoming less about designing and giving courses and more about providing tools and performance supports. This is a subset of the HR function’s transformation from process executor and transaction processor to strategic human capital advisor.
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?
1. I look forward to the day when I can raise that a few numbers at least.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
The role and the company both have been great places to get my career started. When I move to a new assignment in six months, someone else will get this great opportunity. I stumbled across the original job description today. The key takeaway: as good as we as HR professionals strive to make them, they only scratch the surface of what a job is and what it can become.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.