Pam Brown is the Managing Director of the West Coast for hrQ, a Landrum company headquartered in Florida. hrQ helps companies develop effective human capital practices through 3 integrated services; retained search for HR roles, interim placements for HR roles and organizational effectiveness consulting. We met several years ago. When you meet folks that value connection, share genuinely and have heart, you stay connected. Pam loves helping people and organizations reach their potential.
Pam is both market leader and customer care leader with ultimate responsibility for success of West coast projects. Many times she is in conversation about career, talent challenges or market dynamics. I thought it would be great to check in and see what her thoughts are about this market.
Sherry: First, Pam, how are you doing?
Pam: Well, my whole family came down with COVID and it took us some time to recover. So, now I think we are starting the New Year and grateful we are fine. I have been working from home successfully with office visits when needed and it works well. I was used to that before the pandemic. We have seen so much change in our clients and I am delighted to share some observations.
Sherry: What are you seeing in the market as leaders have had to change just about everything?
Pam: We run a networking group of HR folks in transition. Themes that are coming up now are around the need to be happy. It sounds simple, but people want to enjoy where they are and feel appreciated. Sometimes it means we have to let go of what others want for us. I see this as a healthy change.
In many companies there is an overwhelming amount of work in HR operations. The reaction to that is, “let’s hire someone to support our team whether it is systems, analytics or operations.” Some are asking for more resources and they are getting the nod to invest. Others, who are in HR leadership, have shifted their career plan a bit and what once was a dream to be the CHRO, is now more about how to use their strengths in a role that is a better fit. I have observed some returning to the HR Business Partner role. And others who are later in their career, have said, “I am done” due to impatience with the slow progress in their organizations. They like many who were part of the “great resignation” in November move on to consulting or coaching.
People who are thriving in this climate are relationship driven and are trusted partners with their teams and their CEO. I feel that the people who are thriving are deeply in the conversation about people needs, wants and concerns. They know how to actively listen. Humor is also a key to success during these unpredictable times. This helps me and our clients manage through.
Sherry: How is the HR function adapting today?
Pam: I feel positive about the function overall. Human capital issues are now on the investor, board and senior leadership agenda – all of that means more investment and resources. It seems there are less hurdles for the important people initiatives. And, there is eagerness to build the right foundation. All roads are pointing to the human capital agenda.
Sherry: What is energizing you right now in your own career?
Pam: HR and the types of projects we are taking on are valued and more known. HR seemed vague in earlier days and now there is clarity, probably out of necessity. Now we need to ask, are there leaders who want to step up to this important work? It is high stakes work – what is encouraging is that there are programs for those early in the career and learning remains critical. A mentor can help you learn what is important. There is a growing desire for learning from peers and experienced leaders. With HR, it is expected that you know how to navigate. I have observed that great leaders are more explicit about what they are strong at and where they need valuable support.
Sherry: How do you see development for yourself this year?
Pam: I select a word or two each year for myself. This year it is gratitude and flow. I am grateful for the reflective time in the morning which is self-energizing. I journal and remind myself to stay in a grateful place. Everything comes from that starting place during the day. I also take care of myself and have signed up for on-line classes that are satisfying and support my curiosity with new ideas.
Regarding the word flow, at the end of the year, I read The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist. She talks about developing flow with money and life and “what you appreciate, appreciates.” It is not just about money. We have a culture that views a never enough scarcity mindset and that is not healthy for our sense of well-being. I am working on a healthy relationship with gratitude, purpose and a life of meaning. That is what I mean by flow.
I am also looking to add more community time. It might be a community service, leadership role in a non-profit or in a woman’s group. I have a sabbatical this year after five years of service and one goal will be just to have fun. I believe in giving and being truly curious. I have learned that giving to others ends up adding value to everyone. We all benefit from contribution and abundance thinking.
Sherry: What do you see as the key strengths required as an HR leader?
Pam: I meet with people who want to make a change and have just been heads down. It is essential to continuously reconnect with people and network. Now, with everything changing, carving out time to be externally minded and keeping open to learning what others are doing brings value to your company and to yourself. A key strength will be to remain connected in this virtual world (easier said than done) to share knowledge and support each other.
More about Pam Brown
Pam loves helping people and organizations reach their potential. Pam built her career in business and HR in the Bay Area and Europe and realized that strong HR elevates every area of the business. As an HR leader at LinkedIn, Pam built foundational leadership development and employee engagement programs and went on to advise high growth companies on people strategy. Her earlier experience in finance, business development and international operations helps her build trusting relationships with leaders, understand their needs and match the right expertise.
Where She Volunteers - Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Northern California
Where She Got Book Smart - University of California, Santa Barbara, BA in Business Economics, Harvard Business School, MBA
Where She Got Street Smart – LinkedIn, Orange, KPMG