Human Resources. Unless you’ve worked in the field or worked with someone in the field, HR can seem like a black hole where decisions on promotions, raises, and layoffs are made. “Don’t mind the man behind the curtain,” so to speak. But unlike in the Wizard of Oz, many employees do not have the ability or the will to discover what the world of HR is really like. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do so.
Last month, the Chief Human Resources Officer of MasterCard was kind enough to host me for a day at the corporate headquarters. I spent the day attending meetings with him and was sure to record my experience. The following is a log of my day. All names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals, when appropriate.
7:20am – I get to the global headquarters a little early and find a comfortable chair to check my email in. My day is supposed to start at 7:30am, so I want to make sure that my host has time to go though his morning routine.
7:30am – Time to meet Ron. I go into the executive wing and find his office. He is at his desk, probably checking on emails as well. He greets me, allows me to put my things away, and makes sure I know where the secret kitchen is “just in case.” We spend a good amount of time talking about my history, my professional goals, and where I see myself going. We also talk about company culture, especially as it relates to the new NYC office. He tells me about himself, a little of his professional history, and describes his role at the company. It is interesting to hear about the different constituencies he serves and he often is the one to deal with intra-executive tensions.
8:40am – A quick break. I take the time to write some of these notes and catch up on email.
8:50am – Ron shows me some slides that he has previously presented to the company’s board of directors. They outline the status of the company’s people organization, and some of where we are headed. It is interesting to see the amount of tremendous diversity in the company, but we still have more to do.
9:00am – Gregory comes in to meet with my host and discuss some exciting new recruiting programs in the works. Again, it was interesting to hear about the different constituencies involved and the tensions that can arise between them.
9:25am – Simil pops in to tell my host about a recent hire. The person’s title is Director of First Impressions and can be found at the front desk of headquarters.
10:15am – Our next meeting, Angelica comes in to talk about an upcoming TEDx style talk she was invited to give. She is planning to talk about the value of reverse mentoring. We talk about the difference in work styles between different generations, and the need to expect differences and find common ground.
10:55am – Email break with a tweet.
11:15am – We stealthily join a feedback call on a new online training program for people managers; stealthily because we don’t want to skew the feedback. The group on the call were all beta testers, and provided both very positive feedback as well as a few opportunities for improvement. Someone brings up one of my (many) favorite quotes from Albert Einstein: “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
11:50am – Time for a walk. We visit the different HR folks around the office. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my host knows each by name.
12:05pm – We grab lunch and chat about our travels. My host gets something healthy and I do not. Enough said.
1:05pm – We have a meeting with the head of employee relations who also acts as my host’s human resource business partner. Essentially, this person is “HR for HR,” which is an interesting dynamic in itself. I can imagine the experience being relatable to a doctor’s doctor.
2:10pm – One of the things our CHRO likes to do is have a little fun once in a while, so we took the opportunity to prank call an employee we mutually knew well. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t pick up her phone, so we had to leave a prank message instead.
2:15pm – We have a short meeting about employee engagement and an associated program being developed.
2:50pm – We call back the employee we pranked. She said she fell for it for a couple seconds, but then started to recognize voices. All well, we tried.
3:00pm – Ron has a call with a potential high-level hire. It is an introductory call to see if there may be any good fits. I silently listen in, and we compare notes afterwards.
3:50pm – Another email break. Unsurprisingly since he is a corporate executive, and I getting us ready for an upcoming hackathon.
4:05pm – An interesting meeting between us, the CHROs Chief of Staff, and the head of internal communications.
4:55pm – The conclusion of a great day. I say thank you, promise to keep in touch with my host, and head home.
Overall, I had a fantastic experience with MasterCard’s Chief Human Resources Officer. My experience taught me that there is a lot of planning and work that goes into running a people organization. I would strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in running an organization take some time to learn how to manage and plan for a company’s most important asset – its people.
Continue the discussion by tweeting me with #HR!