Lisa Broome began her career with an industrial rental company and held several different management positions. Eventually, she ended up in operations management and managed 75 employees. Dealing with personnel issues prepared her for a role in human resources, and moving on from that company, she took a position at a small government contractor as an office manager. As the company had no established HR department, Broome was asked to take on the position of director of HR. Over the five-year period she was in that role, the company grew from 90 to 900 employees. The position prepared her for her next job, which was the director of HR position at GTEC (then SFA, Inc.), where she has been for 14 years.
GCE: What do you believe is the key to attract, retain and motivate people from different backgrounds?
Broome: The work that we do here is very mission-focused and all of our work is done to support our national security customers enable them to meet the challenges of their national security missions. I find that people who feel that they are making a difference seem to be even more self-motivated and they seem to really have a sense of purpose. I believe GTEC provides our employees with challenging meaningful work, competitive salaries and benefits, therefore, our organization is be able to attract and retain good people. GTEC is proud that our involuntary turnover rate runs at only 8 percent, which is less than most companies.
GCE: Are there unique HR programs you have at GTEC?
Broome: We recently started a CEO leadership program – although not necessarily unique, it has been a good program to identify our next generation of leaders. The program is a year-and-a-half long and includes off-site seminars and meetings to help our current high performers become better equipped as leaders. We have had several sessions so far and have utilized a consultant who specializes in these types of programs. The program has created a better dialogue among the senior management team and our future leaders. As a result, the program participants have become the liaison between management and the workforce able to effectively communicate the messages of each. We intend to have a graduation at the end of this year for the first group, and then we are going to start a second group. We also have an Employee Focus Group within our intelligence solutions division. This group consists of rotating employee representatives who examine and discuss the current divisional and company programs and benefits looking for potential enhancements and improvements that can make us a more effective and responsive company. Their work has generated a several new company benefits now being offered to all employees.
GCE: What are some of your biggest priorities right now? Have they changed in the last year or two?
Broome: Recruiting and retention is always a No. 1 priority in our space but even more so, especially since we became a public organization in November 2009 and our strategic focus for 2010 is on both organic and inorganic growth. Furthermore, my other priorities are ensuring a seamless HR integration as we look to acquire companies with similar values and mission. Whether an incoming organization has 20 or 200 employees, my priority is to make sure that the transition goes smoothly.
GCE: Have you learned anything from the transition? Do you have any advice for any HR teams going private to public?
Broome: Making a good transition from private to publicly traded company is all about being SOX compliant and having good systems, procedures and processes in place before you go public. Making sure you are compliant makes the transition a lot easier.
GCE: If you were not in HR, do you have a field you think you would be in and why?
Broome: I think I have always wanted to be in management. I know that I try to be a good mentor to my staff and empower them to be good leaders. Most of the people I have worked with appreciate my management style. I am not sure what other industry I would be in since I have been in government contracting for 20 years.
GCE: Is there one thing most people do not know about you, personally?
Broome: Considering my work schedule people might be surprised that I actually like to cook and am very good at it.
GCE: Are there any specialties that you like to cook?
Broome: I would say my specialties are crab cakes and crab imperial stuffed shrimp. Born and raised in Maryland, you have to cook with crab meat.
GCE: What characteristics make a good HR executive?
Broome: I think the most important quality is compassion. It is important to have the ability to be compassionate to employees while also managing the business, strategy and risks of the organization. In my opinion, some HR professionals have come up through the ranks and are too narrowly focused on employment law, compliance, policies and procedures, although very important, they sometimes forget that HR really needs to be a strategic business partner with the other executives/business units in the firm. It is necessary to strive to reach the appropriate balancing act between pro-employee and pro-company.