2019 HR Achievement Awards Honorees
Every year, Utah Business Magazine honors the HR professionals who are working hard to foster culture, growth, and happiness in the workplace in our annual HR Achievement Awards. These professionals have gone beyond the call of duty to make their companies a great place to work and their dedication to their jobs is something inspirational for all.
Hal Golden Halladay
Chief People & Chief Financial Officer | JUMP
For the last thirty years, Hal Halladay has dedicated his life to helping business leaders discover their greatest potential. Known for being a serial entrepreneur, Mr. Halladay has served as an executive at many high-growth companies, before ending up at JUMP Software where he oversees people, culture, and finance.
Though he has been at the company for under a year, Mr. Halladay has set a standard for years to come with his unique approach to leadership and talent development. Under Mr. Halladay’s direction, the company has implemented weekly one-on-one meetings where employees share their weekly objectives with company leaders, creating a sense of trust and removing any obstacles between company leaders and employees. This kind of innovation has helped create high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction company-wide, something that every HR professional should be striving for.
Senior Director of HR | Xyngular
Staci Heard didn’t dream of a career in human resources. Instead, she “fell” into it when she applied for a job at a payroll company and the hiring manager told her that she would be a better fit on the human resources team. Within a week, that hiring manager offered Ms. Heard the job as an HR Generalist, and her career took off.
To foster employee success and growth at Xyngular, Ms. Heard has helped create the League of Leaders, a group helping individuals throughout Xyngular learn how to be successful leaders. The program is made up of groups of 8-10 employees who read from Xyngular’s library of leadership development books, and then meet regularly to discuss what they’ve read. Thanks to this program developed by Ms. Heard, the company has seen a variety of employees, even members of the executive team, become better mentors and managers.
HR Manager | ApplicantPro
Traci Kalmar loves working in human resources because she feels like what she does actually matters. She prides herself in making a positive impact at ApplicantPro and in the daily lives of her fellow employees. With a workforce comprised of 70 percent women―most of whom are working moms―Ms. Kalmar and her team have worked hard to create a flexible culture that allows for rapid growth and high performance. Known to her coworkers as the “Culture Captain,” Ms. Kalmar works hard to drive a culture that lines up with company values, and she sticks to it.
“If you are looking at a career in HR, don’t let all the employment law and compliance regulations overwhelm you,” she advises. “Find something you’re passionate about and combine it with a love of learning and get started.”
Steven G. Maughan
Director of HR | Orbit Irrigation
For Steven Maughan, the most rewarding part of his job as the director of HR at Orbit Irrigation is helping his coworkers and his company succeed. Though it can sometimes be difficult to find the best company-wide solutions when it comes to HR, Mr. Maughan doesn’t back down from a challenge and often uses the catchphrase “don’t tell me no, tell me how” to break down barriers and accomplish what is needed in the workplace.
Mr. Maughan believes it is his job to remove the roadblocks preventing innovation from occurring. He has used this mindset to successfully help retrofit the company-wide healthcare plan and open up a free clinic onsite. The changes in the healthcare plan have helped to save the company (and it’s employees) thousands of dollars while still providing access to important healthcare tools.M
Vice President of HR & Talent | Christopherson Business Travel
Elisa Garn is “hyper-passionate” about helping companies create policies that help to attract and retain talent. But it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, Ms. Garn only took a job as a seasonal HR administrator at a local ski resort because she wanted the free ski pass.
However, after spending that winter season with an incredible mentor, she was able to see a potential for herself in human resources. After that, she held HR positions at various companies before joining Christopherson Business Travel as the vice president of HR and talent. So far, Ms. Garn and her team have changed the game by developing an Employee Value Proposition designed to align with the industry and created #ChooseYourAdventure, a strategy that encourages learning and development opportunities for employees at the company so they can pick the career path right for them.
When speaking of the strategy she helped to implement, she says, “we want our people to be empowered to experience our commitment to investing in them and their overall success, regardless of which stage of life they find themselves in.”
Managing Director of HR | Nutraceutical Corporation
Sherrail Mitton graduated college with the hopes of becoming an accountant, but after she realized she wouldn’t be interacting with people as often as she would like, she spoke with a career counselor who suggested she try a career in HR instead. She took that advice to heart, accepting a job at the Nutraceutical Corporation where she fell in love with her job. As she has worked with the company for 20 years, Ms. Mitton has helped navigate talent shortages with innovative solutions such as employee relocation, flexible work schedules, and improved internal communication. It’s been Ms. Mitton’s goal to create a successful working environment by pairing the right person to the right job and providing them with the right mentor needed to succeed.
Additionally, Ms. Mitton has worked hard to create a culture of equal access to opportunities by helping any employees relocating to their Orem offices acclimate better by providing them with access to schools to better meet the needs of their children and providing them with access to any other program that may be of interest.
Director of People | HealthEquity
Greg Price began a career in HR because he loved “coming in from the outside” to review complex problems and recommend solutions to them. Since then, Mr. Price has spent eight years working hard to develop a positive work environment at HealthEquity through “blood, sweat, and ulcers.” He cares deeply about the team member experience and is working hard to promote inclusion initiatives and opportunities for equal pay.
“HR is in all aspects of the organization (top to bottom, left to right),” Mr. Price says. “The more we integrate it to understand all aspects of our organization, the better we can truly deliver the constant approach through genuine partnerships and thoughtful recommendations to ultimately deliver value.”
Vice President of Human Resources | BioFire Diagnostics
Though acquiring good talent can be a struggle for many Utah companies, Linda Brandon and her HR team at BioFire Diagnostics have it down to a science, as they’ve worked to quadruple the size of their company in only four short years. This kind of sustainable employee growth comes as a result of strategic programs Ms. Brandon has helped implement to quickly engage new employees and provide them with the important company knowledge they need to succeed early on. Her contributions have been crucial in helping fuel BioFire’s rapid expansion in the biotech industry.
Ms. Brandon also loves to make work more enjoyable for others and believes that there are unlimited opportunities for every HR professional to make a difference at their companies. As she says, “there are so many ways to get things done!”
Senior Vice President of People and Great Work | O.C. Tanner
Mindi Cox grew interested in HR when she worked as a writer for O.C. Tanner’s marketing team. As she wrote, she regularly interacted with clients and discovered the true impact of their products and services. And after seeing the way the CEOs and CHRO work together to build companies with the best culture, it was then that she knew that she wanted to make that same kind of difference in the world as an HR professional.
Ms. Cox has made important strides for O.C. Tanner by helping the 91-year-old company move forward by focusing her “people” team on “supporting, developing, and empowering frontline leaders to better lead their people.” She strongly believes that culture lives with leaders and that supporting them to be their best is where her HR team can make the biggest difference for O.C. Tanner.
Principal Analyst, People Operations | Qualtrics
As a first-generation college graduate, Alexis Lopez wasn’t quite sure what her dream career was. She had intended to go to law school, but discovered HR and decided to minor in the subject during her junior year. After finishing grad school at Ohio State, and gaining valuable HR experience at other companies, Ms. Lopez ended up at the tech-giant, Qualtrics.
Over her last four years at Qualtrics, Ms. Lopez has helped maintain a company-wide culture of high performance. In addition to interviewing multiple people across multiple departments every week, Ms. Lopez has developed, implemented, and managed the company’s promotional process. Ms. Lopez also cofounded an employee metrics group, MOSAIQ, designed to help attract, promote, and retain more employees of color at Qualtrics.
Chief Human Resource Officer | University Of Utah
After growing up an athlete, Jeff Herring recognized the similarity between team sports and human resources in that everyone’s unique talents come together to accomplish great things. Mr. Herring has made big changes at the University of Utah, including adding an option for employees to take paid paternal leave. Executing this change in policy showed Mr. Herring that most problems can be solved if you have the team needed to unearth the right solutions.
“I see my role as setting the vision,” he says, “and then making sure the team has the right tools to accomplish the goals.”
Senior Vice President of HR | America First Credit Union
When he first graduated college, Kent Streuling had hopes to become a corporate trainer. However, after landing his first job as an HR Generalist, he grew experienced in all aspects of HR and he fell in love with the industry. As the Senior Vice President of HR at America First Credit Union, Mr. Streuling has been innovative in helping to attract great talent. Since stepping into his role, Mr. Streuling has created the Hire-A-Head program which helps to stop reactionary hiring, he’s developed a partnership with Glassdoor to help the company tell their story how they want, and has helped to create an internal job fair helping to speed up the hiring process.
“I enjoy the fact that every day is a new experience and often a surprise,” Mr. Streuling says of his career. “When you deal with employees — you never know what your day is going to be like.”
Vice President of Human Capital | Four Foods Group
Working with a low-wage, rank and file workforce, and high turnover rates, Christine Wzorek has already faced many challenges as the vice president of human capital at Four Foods Group. To cope with high turnover rates, Ms. Wzorek has worked with members of the leadership team to develop training programs that provide new employees with a “success path” to help them grow within the company.
Looking back on her time in the field she says, “This is truly an exciting time for HR. Anyone looking to jump into the profession could not be luckier. The conversation and landscape [are changing] for the better: the profession is focused on business integrations, innovations, and paving new roads.”
Manager of Talent Acquisition | Ancestry
Passionate about inclusion, diversity, and all things company culture, Daniel Benavides found the perfect career as the manager of talent acquisition at Ancestry. As a recruiter with over four years of experience at the biotech company, Mr. Benavides realizes that a diversive company culture will attract the A-players needed to keep Ancestry moving forward. And he has helped to foster that kind of attractive culture by cofounding the Ancestry Queer in Technology (AQT) and the LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups, to help create an inclusive environment. Mr. Benavides is proud to bring thoughtful inclusivity and allyship to Ancestry, helping the company embrace diversity and inclusion throughout Utah.
“HR has so much influence on the culture of an organization,” says Mr. Benavides. “ We have a responsibility to build a space where everyone feels safe and can be their true, authentic self at work.”
Norm Smallwood-Lifetime Achievement
Cofounder & CEO | The RBL Group
Norm Smallwood knew he was cut out for a career in HR when a college professor told him a career in the industry would give people the ability to change people, organizations, and impact the world. Since then, Mr. Smallwood has worked for Procter and Gamble, Esso Resources in Calgary, a startup company he founded with other BYU professors called Novations, and The RBL Group, which he cofounded. Specializing in human resource management, organization design, and building leadership capabilities, Mr. Smallwood also sits on the board of directors at the Human Resources Certification Institute.
An impressive career like Mr. Smallwood’s doesn’t come without challenges along the way. That’s why he has helped tackle important HR issues by creating organizations that demand compliance in behavior, not just a simple change in attitude, to make sure everyone feels comfortable, safe, and respected at work.
Kimberly Jedick- Emerging HR Professional
Human Resources Administrator | St. John’s Community Child Development
Kimberly Jedick firmly lives by the adage, “we don’t choose careers but rather, careers choose us.” Following that belief, Ms. Jedick was chosen by HR when she offered the job as a human resources administrator at St. John’s Community Child Development. Spending just over two years with the organization, Ms. Jedick has helped create new training modules that better explain the organization’s goals while increasing rates of employee success and happiness. Additionally, Ms. Jedick and her team implemented a campus recruiting system that pairs high school students with job-related diploma programs, and paid internships that count for college credit. This program helps funnel good candidates into the industry, providing quality talent for years to come.
“To my core, I believe in my work, [and its ability] to change lives of people,” says Ms. Jedick. “I believe in the best of people.”