Utah Business HR Achievement Awards

Excellence in Human Resources Recognized at First Annual Awards

Salt Lake City—The words “human resources” usually conjure thoughts of stacks of paperwork, long trainings and awkward conversations about company policy. But no company would get far without dedicated and caring human resources professionals, and on Tuesday, Utah Business recognized a dozen of Utah’s best.

“For many of us, when we first started our careers, human resources was considered a clerical job, mainly responsible for payroll and other employment forms,” said Donnie Welch, publisher of Utah Business. “Today’s business environment is much more complex, and so, too, is the job of an HR professional. There’s still tons of forms and paperwork, as you all know. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human resources. Now, HR leaders are deeply engaged in company strategy. They’re experts on compensation and benefits, and are on the frontlines of recruitment and retention—something that’s of extreme importance for local companies competing in a cutthroat global labor market.”

Presented in partnership with Utah SHRM, the first annual HR Achievement Awards was designed to recognize that changing role and the professionals who best exemplify it, Welch said. Utah SHRM is one of almost 600 affiliated chapters of the world’s largest HR professional society, spread across 165 countries with 285,000 members.

Elissa O’Brien, chief membership officer of SHRM, highlighted the changing role of the human resources professional, particularly amidst rapidly changing technological advances and business practices. “Disruption happens—that’s the new rule. You can’t look five years down the road, you have to look six months to a year,” she said. “Human resources has to be the lighthouse, to pivot and transform people.”

O’Brien also said human resources professionals need to blaze the new trail into the future of the profession and business practices as a whole.

“As our profession evolves, we must take new paths in talent management,” she said, noting that old ideas—for instance, that college degrees equate with competence—should change to reflect the new workforce. “Most of all, we must stand up when we see corporate culture that does not support dignity for all. … This will take conviction in our methods and courage in our actions.”

Among those honored was Cathy Donahoe, vice president of human resources for Domo, who said throughout her career she had been a fortunate witness to the evolution of the profession and the growth of those in it, including fellow honoree Summer Scoville, HR site lead for Dell EMC.

“It’s been a really enjoyable experience over the last 22 years to see the HR profession evolve in Utah,” said Donahoe. “As you get to the end of your career, you kind of think of what you’ve done and what you haven’t done, but I’m grateful for the people I’ve gotten to work with.”

For Troy Anderson, director of talent management with Instructure, pairing his skills with technology has helped him be more effective at what he does.

“I love the opportunity to be in the space where technology and learning intersect and use some of the best technology to help employees learn and feel energized in their careers,” he said.

Charlotte Miller, chief human resources officer for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, said ultimately, she feels the job comes down to helping bring out the best in employees—even when they seem to resist improving on their own.

“Work is hard. It’s not the task that’s hard, it’s the people, because they come with depression and anxiety and insecurity. They play [those traits] out in ways of hidden agendas and taking credit for things and arguments,” she said. “All of us get to find the jewels in that and find the best collaborators and leaders and workers.”

You can read more about all of the honorees here.