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Utah Business

Join us as we celebrate the winners of the 2020 HR Achievement awards.

Meet our state’s top HR professionals

Human resources is more than just managing the people of your company. It’s about managing the experience employees have at work. Help us celebrate this year’s leaders in human resources as they innovate and elevate the human experience factor for the companies they serve.


Small Companies

How does the company of the future take care of their employees?

“For an employer to be competitive, they will need to become more flexible in their offerings and learn to negotiate with employees and applicants so they can maximize the benefits the employee receives. Some employers are afraid to step out of the box and offer differences in pay and benefits because they fear being viewed as ‘unfair.’ However, it is extremely unfair to offer the same exact thing to every employee when they all have extremely different needs and varying lifestyles. When employees feel that their personal needs are being met, whether that is picking pet insurance instead of vision insurance, or taking a higher salary with little benefits because they have those through a spouse, they tend to worry less about what others are getting and focus more on utilizing their own personal benefits to the fullest extent possible.” -Alison Evans, Director Of human Resources at Your Employment Solutions

Alison Evans| 2020 HR Achievement Awards
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“In the future of work, organizations will need to find a way to better utilize tools and technology to find and support great leaders―because exceptional leadership will be the foundation of a successful organization. Gallup research suggests that great leaders and great teams are two important keys to organizational success–and you won’t have the opportunity to build great teams if you don’t have the right leaders in place. Tomorrow’s leaders will need to place an enhanced focus on individualized experiences and support for each of their team members. It will take a great amount of time and energy to make this happen, but if this is done right, it will be the initial driver for overall organizational success and business growth.” – Carl Sokia, Chief Human Experience Officer at Life Engineering

ACarl Sokia| 2020 HR Achievement Awards
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“There are a number of ways to help develop employees so that they can reskill and upskill to keep pace with the rapid speed of change. The first is to reduce the time to proficiency in their current job tasks by providing an onboarding and job skill training program. Once they are proficient in their role, it is important to cross-train through regular exposure to learning content, job rotations, and other forms of development activities that help them prepare for their next role. – Emily Woll, COO at Osmond Marketing

Emily Woll| 2020 HR Achievement Awards
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Employees want to make an impact―on the world and in their companies. They want to work with great teams and they simply want a shot. There’s no doubt that things like compensation, benefits, location, and flexibility are all important, but they remain hygienic in nature in terms of human motivation. Especially in a time of rapid change, employees eagerly seek to make an impact and to be rewarded for it.” – Dennis Wood, Head Of Human Capital Practice at Mercato Partners

Dennis Wood| 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

Medium Companies

What one benefit are employees most looking for when job searching?

“Compensation and flexibility. But [it] also depends on the applicant’s personal situation. What stage of life are they in? Are they still in school, single, or in a committed relationship? Do they have children, grandchildren, or ailing parents to care for? Do they have student-loan debt they’re trying to pay off?” – Krist “Kris” McFarland, SVP of HR & OD at WCF Insurance

Krist McFarland | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Employees desiring to live a more holistic life is increasing every year. Work-life integration is a primary focus for many job seekers and individuals who are searching for jobs are not looking for one specific benefit. Candidates are looking for how well they fit within the company’s culture, value system, and way of working. The benefit offerings typically do, and should intentionally support and reinforce the company’s employment value proposition. This allows the employee to make an informed decision about the role within a new company and how close it aligns with what they are looking for.” – Claudia Reese, Senior Director Of Human Resources at NetDocuments Software, Inc.

Claudia Reese | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Hands down, it’s flexibility. I recently had the chance to interview 64 people from more than 50 companies while at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. In these conversations, I asked each person what they like most and dislike most about where they work. The number one most-liked thing was flexibility and it was described as more than just the work-life balance of remote work options and customized work schedules, it also extended to having autonomy over one’s work.” -Matt R. Vance, Employee Experience Manager at Malouf

Matt Vance | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

Large Companies

How would you like to see human resources and talent acquisition progress?

“Continued emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Everyone views the world from their personal lens and that lens is made up of their story, their backgrounds, and their life experiences. It is imperative that those in human resources, or people in culture, are at the forefront as examples by embracing and accepting people’s differences. In order to embrace those important values, we need to be open to change, different opinions, different lifestyles, and different cultures. There will always be more than one valued opinion and possibly a better way to accomplish the same goal. That is only accomplished through diversity.” – Kathy Farrow, VP Of People And Culture at LHM Megaplex Theatres

Kathy Farrow | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Firstly, we should no longer call it human resources. This is a term from the industrial age mired in fear and risk mitigation; it doesn’t accurately reflect the value we bring to our team members today. We’re in a new age that requires a new operating system, so at Pluralsight, we prefer to call it the People Experience. Secondly, People Experience needs to be positioned as an active and strategic business partner for the company at the executive level. In order to create an environment that celebrates your team members and takes care of them as whole persons, your executives need to be onboard driving that environment.” – Anita Grantham, Chief People Officer at Pluralsight

Anita Grantham | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Talent acquisition should focus on hiring the best, not just hiring people who meet the basic requirements. Many hiring managers feel skills are most important, when in fact, many skills can be taught. As a team, HR, TA, and hiring managers should prioritize applicants that are team players, innovative, and hard-working. Determine who is the best fit for the organization and who can contribute to a successful team.” -Catherine Jones, EVP of HR at Visible Supply Chain Management (not pictured)

“Human resources need to be strategic in exactly who they hire and that means a direct channel into executive decision making and business strategy. Transparency is essential so the human resources team can begin looking at its candidate pool from a future perspective and be proactive in filling critical positions. Using data analytics is another imperative in HR’s evolution. Also, more frequent employee performance conversations will help people feel they’re on track and can meet their personal goals. Using practices like ‘stay’ interviews in which employees can freely discuss how satisfied they are in their current environment is essential to retaining valued employees.” -Debbie Wine, Senior Human Resources Business Partner at Ivanti

Debbie Wine | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

Extra Large Companies

In your opinion, what one benefit are employees most looking for when job searching?

“Diversity and inclusion programs inspire education, promote right action, and influence behavior. Wellness programs encourage people to become more conscious of their physical and financial health and wellness. [And] social clubs connect people with similar interests or backgrounds. Senior leaders should be the first to embrace company culture–people will follow their lead. Interviewers should have an abundance of examples on how senior leaders and all team members embrace culture.” – Natalie Atwood, SVP Of People at HealthEquity

Natalie Atwood | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth

“Employees consider a wide range of factors when looking for a place to call ‘home.’ Compensation, professional development, and the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution are among these. However, the one benefit that all employees universally desire is to feel valued. As employees and as people we have a fundamental need to feel valued: valued by the organization for which we work, valued by the teams we are part of, and valued by our managers and coworkers. Organizations that learn to actively and genuinely promote employee value will be empowered to attract, retain, and engage high-performing talent.” -Tom Cannon, Senior Human Resources Manager at Clyde Companies, Inc. (not pictured)


What one benefit are employees most looking for when job searching?

“People want to know that they’re making a difference and that the work they do is important. Candidates on the job hunt primarily search for companies that will provide them with the opportunity to make an impact on the world, and the companies that move mountains to help candidates see that impact will set themselves apart from the pack. Traditional benefits aside, companies that 1) provide employees with autonomy and ownership, 2) have a culture of trust and belonging, and 3) employ top-tier leaders to connect performance to the impact their team makes will be the companies that candidates apply and reapply to time and time again.” – Ellen Thompson, Learning And Development Manager at Lucid

Ellen Thompson | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth


How does the company of the future take care of their employees?

“Technology continues to change types of employees we’re traditionally used to. These changes will require those in human resources to become laser-focused on talent and providing a great employee experience. This doesn’t mean perks and ping-pong tables, this means a greater investment and expectation in our people leaders to be purpose-driven leaders that inspire and engage. In the future, we will move beyond the expectation of how a company develops employees, they will judge a company by the overall experience. One thing I don’t think will change is the expectation that employees want to be inspired by doing meaningful work, being challenged, and held accountable!” -Trent Savage, Chief Human Resources Officer at Mountain America Credit Union

Trent Savage | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth


How would you like to see human resources and talent acquisition progress?

“I am eager to see the impact of AI in the hiring and selection process. We have languished in an unprofessional and unkind practice of offending candidates and ignoring interested parties. How many of us have been the target of a system-generated email explaining that ‘we are not the fit they are looking for?’ I hope to see AI used effectively in reducing common human bias. Even well-meaning professionals in our field can easily be led down the road of unconscious bias. With careful and caring programming, these hidden roadblocks can be avoided and the playing field can be leveled.” – Joe Tate, Director of HR Consulting at GBS and Principal at Boost HR & Recruiting

Joe Tate | | 2020 HR Achievement Awards Honoree
Photographed by Justin Hackworth
In your opinion, how does the company of the future take care of their employees?

“Now and in the future, companies must think about the journey they want their employees to experience. In creating that journey, we have to do so in a way that’s woven into the very fabric of who we are as an organization and not a lapel pin that people wear. I think of the journey in four parts: finding good talent, grounding employees in our company’s cause, growing and developing people, and finally listening to what is important to them and what pressures they are facing. This will help us ensure we have the right people working for us, that they are in the right roles, and that they are working on the right things.” -Mark Stimpson, SVP and chief Human Resources Officer at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

If you were unable to attend our awards luncheon, click on the embedded video below to watch the ceremony.

To learn more about our honorees, take a look at the videos below:

Lindsay Bicknell is the project coordinator for Utah Business magazine. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated from Miami University of Oxford with a degree in communications. She has a background in television, print, and web media, as well as public relations and event planning. As a transplant to Salt Lake City, she can't get enough of the mountains and loves snowboarding.