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Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

2023 HR Achievement Awards

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Every year, Utah Business and Utah SHRM honor the human resources professionals who have gone beyond the call of duty to make their companies great places to work. 

This year’s honorees were selected by a panel of judges comprising David Alsop, CHRO of Ultradent Products; Nic Enlow, senior HR director of ASEA; and a committee from Utah SHRM.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Up-and-Coming: Alyssa Eberspacher

Human Resources Project Manager | D2D Experts

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

The company of the future tries to provide as much value to the employee’s life as the employee provides to the company.

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

Training, training, training! Have good systems in place to train an employee when first hired and when promoted. Train them on life skills, too—physical fitness, financial literacy, language learning, etc. Human beings crave progression. If you can help them progress in their personal and work lives, they’ll be an employee forever.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Anita Grantham

Head, Human Resources | BambooHR

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What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

Be a student of the business first.

Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

Layoffs or cost-cutting are the hardest times for people in HR. Each time I go through an economic downturn, reminding myself to be sure to take care of the people who stay, as well as the people who go, is impactful.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Ashley Sullivan

People Experience Manager | JobNimbus

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

Seeing how I can positively impact not only a single person but families. I love meeting the people that rally around our employees outside of work. I love seeing people grow, succeed and excel.

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

I want to see HR build unmatched trust and be a resource for growth and opportunity for all. Human resources should bring comfort, encouragement and transparency. I want to help employees and their families, even if it means they have outgrown us at our current company.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

August Toscano

EVP, People | Brandless

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

It is rewarding to partner with all of a company’s departments and lines of business. That broad scope enables you to contribute to a company’s performance more extensively. 

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

Be respectful and kind to others. How an employer treats its employees at every stage of the employment process has a profound impact on the employer’s reputation and, as a result, on its ability to attract and retain talented employees. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Brianna Davis

Human Resources Manager | OptConnect

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What was the pivotal moment in your life that brought you into your field?

I was a medical assistant for a clinic that provided in-office surgical procedures. I loved helping patients and the sense of purpose it gave me, but after the third time fainting while assisting with a procedure, I knew the medical field was not for me. I started looking at different career paths that still focused on helping others, and when I stumbled upon HR, I instantly knew it was what I was supposed to do.

Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

I was part of a group onboarding for a large corporation, and there was nothing personable about the experience. Since then, I have made it my personal mission to make sure new hires feel a sense of connection before they even step foot in the building on their first day.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Britt McPartland

Senior Director, People & Site Operations | Pathos

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What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

Make space for people to process their thoughts and operate with integrity. People operations professionals are often in the room for people’s best and worst professional moments, and it’s critical to be present for them and model respect, excitement, empathy or whatever that situation may call for. 

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

Processes exist to protect all of us. We don’t need to make things heavy or difficult, but if, for example, managers are all operating with a different hiring process, they will inevitably have variable success and will likely perpetuate unconscious biases that can lead to gaps in company execution.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Lifetime Achievement: Dana Rogers

VP, People & Great Work | O.C. Tanner

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

At the most basic level, through crafting compensation and benefit plans, you have a hand in providing fundamental care to employees and their families. When you work in HR, it’s all about people and what matters to them. 

What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

Develop a solid foundation. Take the time to build a strong knowledge base in HR. Familiarize yourself with key HR principles, employment laws and best practices.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Devin Larsen

Chief Human Resources Officer | VLCM

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

The variety of responsibilities. HR professionals wear a wide range of hats—attorney, counselor, advisor, recruiter, trainer, strategist, integrator, influencer, analyst and risk manager.

Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

Once, I worked for a mentor-minded leader that cared about my advancement, both personally and professionally. I faced an employee relations issue, so I went to my boss and asked him what he thought I should do. Before offering his opinion, he asked me what I thought we should advise. It was the first time I was challenged to develop my own solutions. It was a simple act of trust, but it made all the difference for my growth.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Jeff Kirkham

EVP, Chief People & Strategy Officer | Savage

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What was the pivotal moment in your life that brought you into your field?

After some people-related work early in my career, my focus shifted toward financial and operational management. With a foundation of sincere appreciation for the important role our field plays in business, I was given the fantastic opportunity to lead the people area for our team at Savage in 2017.

What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

Start with a focus on customers and supporting business results, and the right people-related strategies will follow.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

J.D. Conway

Founder & CEO | TRAC Talent

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In your opinion, how does the company of the future take care of its employees?

By listening to the workforce’s needs and endeavoring to take care of them from a more holistic direction. You can’t just say that you care; it will be evident in how leadership treats people, challenges them and creates safety for them to make mistakes. 

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

There needs to be a better way for talent acquisition and human resources to be integrated. HR leaders need to rethink how the human capital teams of the future can be architected. The type of work is shifting; the need to be proactive is vital. 

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Johnny Curl

Director, People Operations | Parallel

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What was the pivotal moment in your life that brought you into your field?

I got a job in an HR department to work my way through college. I was studying chemical engineering. The employees in my office pooled money out of their own pockets to create a scholarship and gave it to me to help change my major to organizational behavior and human resources.

In your opinion, how does the company of the future take care of its employees?

It builds an HR team that truly cares about people, not just process or money, and gives them a seat at the decision-making table. Too many organizations bury HR under another group with a different agenda than employee well-being.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Kim Brannon

Sr. Director, People Business Partners GTM | Pluralsight

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Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

I had a team member who died by suicide. It was devastating. I worked with the man’s wife, who also worked at the company, on surviving benefits and her work situation. Through the experience, I learned that we have the ability to profoundly impact those around us by how we show up in our work. She later shared with me that the empathy and care I showed through that process made such a difference for her in such a dark time. Out of all the projects and programs I have worked on, this moment is what I am most proud of. At the core of what we do, it is all about people and how we make a difference for them.

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

Do not underestimate your team members, and always treat them with respect. People want to work for a company where they matter and have the opportunity to make a difference. You have an opportunity in every interaction, especially the tough ones, to reinforce that message.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Madison Walker

Co-Founder & EVP, Human Resources & People Operations | Proper Seven

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

People! You get to meet and see people from all different walks of life. Also, being able to see someone on their first day of work—nervous, yet incredibly excited to be there. The enthusiasm and fire in new hires is my favorite thing.

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

With such an intense and competitive job market, I think it’s important for recruiters to be proactive in recruitment instead of reactive. I would love to see recruiters actively searching and reaching out to talent within and outside of their organizations instead of waiting for people to come to them and apply for positions.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Michael Brandt

VP, Human Resources Operations | L3Harris

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

Every day and every role brings so many unique challenges and rewarding experiences. The learning, tangible results and satisfaction of helping employees and organizations be more successful are always rewarding.

What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

As HR employees, we are often given access to the higher levels of businesses at very early stages of our careers. We’re quickly in a position to impact teams and businesses, and that can sometimes happen before we feel ready or have the experience we need to be successful. In those cases, it’s extremely important to rely on your networks and collaboration skills. 

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Mike Voigt

Chief Human Resources Officer | Merit Medical Systems, Inc.

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In your opinion, how does the company of the future take care of its employees?

Empathy is the key, and the companies that can hire, develop and promote the most empathetic leaders will not only be the most effective at taking care of their employees in the future but will also create a meaningful competitive advantage in the talent marketplace of the future.

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

I would like to see human resources professionals make greater use of current and emerging technologies, such as machine learning and predictive analytics, to strengthen their organization’s talent selection and talent management processes. I believe this will require HR leaders to think differently about the education, skills and experiences they seek to add to their teams.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Nate Miller

VP, Learning & Organizational Development | Vivint

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What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

The goal is to be a great business person in the field of HR; not just a good HR person in a business. You will build credibility—the currency your brand trades on—by creating value for your customers, both internal and external.

Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

While in graduate school, I had an amazing mentor in Al Warwick, then an executive-in-residence at Utah State University. He prepared me to think strategically and deliver value like a business leader. As a part of that program, I interned under an amazing HR director, Brent Peterson. Brent allowed me to sculpt an experience that gave me formative experiences and connections, allowing me to accelerate my career. I owe a lot to these good mentors.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Sara Hadlow

Human Resources Manager | Capita Financial Network

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

I love the feeling of being an advocate for both the organization and the people within. It’s easy for the relationship between employer and employee to feel like a constant tug-of-war. My ultimate goal working in HR is to help everyone realize we’re on the same team.

What was the pivotal moment in your life that brought you into your field?

I had been working for a marketing firm for a couple of years, working as an account coordinator on one of our client teams in the organization. I never saw myself as a strong account executive and a new position opened up in the company for an HR coordinator. With some encouragement from leadership, I transferred over and never regretted it.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Sarah Beard

Chief People Officer | Pattern

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Has there been a moment in your career that had a particular impact on you?

Once, I received an email from an employee who had just become a father and was returning to work after taking a paid paternity leave. He expressed his gratitude for our paternity leave benefit and how meaningful it was for him to spend that time entirely dedicated to his spouse and new baby. This was a new benefit I had just convinced our company leaders to offer, so it was fulfilling to see it positively affect one of our employees.

In your opinion, how does the company of the future take care of its employees?

A company must first understand the holistic needs of people as human beings. All people need security, belonging, safety, recognition, respect, opportunities for growth, trust and rest. The best employers take all these needs into consideration when creating their company culture.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Sean Morrison

VP, Human Resources | Mountain America Credit Union

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What is the most rewarding thing about working in human resources?

The beauty of working in HR lies in the countless meaningful connections and our impact on people’s lives. Each day, we can make a difference that extends far beyond the workplace.

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

Prioritize hiring and retaining individuals who enhance the company’s competitive advantage. Their unique abilities and expertise possess the power to create a transformative impact on the company’s performance, surpassing the importance of nearly any other strategic initiative.

Human resources professionals work diligently to create positive company cultures, inspire happiness and facilitate overall growth. Join us in celebrating the 2023 HR Achievement Awards honorees.

Suzanne Houghton

Talent Acquisition Manager | USANA Health Sciences

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What advice do you have for those just starting their careers in human resources?

Think outside the box, and don’t allow others—or, more importantly, yourself—to limit what you do. It is OK to change course. Being authentic and genuine are two of the greatest attributes you can share with others, so let your career take you there.

If you could offer one piece of advice to employers about talent acquisition and retention, what would it be?

When I interview candidates for roles, I am not just thinking of today; I am thinking of tomorrow. I want candidates, whether offered a job or not, to remember their experience with USANA and interaction with me as a positive moment in their career. I do everything I can to help make that happen for them.

To learn more about our 2023 HR Achievement Award winners, check out the YouTube playlist below. Access photos from the event here.

Savannah Beth Withers Taylor is the assistant editor of Utah Business and a graduate of the editing and publishing program at Brigham Young University. Beth has written content about travel, academics, and mental health for Stowaway magazine, BYU College of Humanities and United Way. She enjoys traveling, reading, eating, and mercilessly defeating loved ones in anything competitive.