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Spartan Insights: An HR Business Partner from Kellogg’s Corporation

This week’s Featured Spartan was Patricia Turner, Human Resource Business Partner, Kellogg’s Company. Patricia agreed to answer questions about her industry, company, background, or any other professional topic that may be relevant. This discussion was open in the MSUALUMNI Linkedin group from 02/16/15 until 03/02/15.

Spartan Insights is a regularly scheduled Linkedin discussion thread inside of the MSUALUMNI Linkedin group. Each discussion is meant to give you the opportunity to ask questions regarding one Spartan’s experience within a specific company, industry, or occupation. Answers will be given at the convenience and discretion of the featured Spartan and will be answered from the Spartan’s own personal experiences and opinions which are not meant to be representative of his/her company’s official position. Questions regarding a person’s applicant status at the featured Spartan’s place of business will not be answered in this forum. Interested in being a helpful Spartan? Contact me at isbelld@msu.edu.

Patricia Turner, SPHR -HR Professional with a passion for strategic business growth, and the people that make it happen.

Hello Spartan Family. I’m excited to be the Featured Spartan of the week! I will start off by telling you a little bit about me. First let me say that I loved my time at MSU, and feel that it prepared me well for my career as an HR professional. I have a passion for the HR field, and I love working for Kellogg! That’s a little bit about my background. Now I look forward to hearing from you.

Dave Isbell – Assistant Director of Alumni Professional Enrichment at MSU

Hi Patricia, Thanks for being willing to help Spartans in this way! Can you talk a little bit about the leadership development pipeline at Kellogg’s? Specifically, how does one become identified as a leader? Is there some form of mentorship that takes place, and if so, what does that look like?

Patricia Turner, SPHR – HR Professional with a passion for strategic business growth, and the people that make it happen.

Great question Dave! From my experience at Kellogg we are continually working to attract and develop leaders at all levels. To be identified as a leader at Kellogg it all starts with performance. At Kellogg, we are continually working to grow our business, so we are looking for people who can deliver results, and achieve those results in the “right way”. By the” right way”, I mean demonstrating our KValues of: Integrity and Respect, Accountability, Passion, Simplicity, Success and Humility & Hunger. In addition to performance, we also look at people who have expressed an interest in leading, and want to continue to grow their career. After someone has been identified as a leader (of either people or processes), their manager typically works with them to put a development plan in place through our performance management process that identifies their strengths, opportunities, and areas of development needed for success. We also have a number of resources available to help leaders grow. We encourage both formal and informal mentoring, Networking, Employee Resource Groups to help provide development opportunities for our diverse employee groups, as well as other training opportunities. Overall, we work hard to attract and grow new leaders so that they can help to lead our company today and in the future!

Kara – Hi Patricia! I’m a student intern at the Alumni Association and this is my first year studying at MSU. As an HR Professional, could you offer some insight as to what experience you look for college students entering into the workforce to have? Could you also mention some qualities that you’ve found good leaders to have and how a college student without much experience might be able to work on developing those attributes?
I’m also studying sociology and thinking about attending grad school for social work, so I’m really interested in how diversity translates to the workplace. Working with diverse employee groups, could you discuss any challenges you’ve encountered working with different ranges of people and how you’ve accommodated their needs? What developmental opportunities do you provide to the employee groups to inspire them to grow as leaders? Thanks so much for sharing!

Tracy – Hi Patricia, I’m also curious what specific classes or degree your pursued that you feel prepared you so well for being in HR. Within the last year, the group I work within has been moved underneath HR. Having spent most of my career working in IT, I’m feeling a bit out of place. Perhaps it is less about having a certain kind of training, though, and more about approach. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Patricia Turner, SPHR – HR Professional with a passion for strategic business growth, and the people that make it happen.

Hi Tracy. Thanks for the question. I earned by my undergraduate degree in Human Resources and Psychology, as well as my Masters degree in Labor Relations and Human Resources both from MSU. I think that some of the courses that I took that prepared me the most to enter the HR field were : HR Strategy, Compensation, Employment Law, Psychology, Organizational Development and Trade Union History. I know that sounds like a lot, but here are my thoughts on why they were most beneficial. I would put all of those courses into two buckets: HR Fundamentals, and People Fundamentals. The HR Strategy, Compensation and Employment Law focused on key HR processes that enabled me to add value to the business from a strategic and compliance perspective. Psychology, OD and Trade Union History helped me to better understand what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what happens when they feel they are not treated right.  I know that it sounds like a lot if you’re just coming into the world of HR, but depending on what your role is, you might not need everything that I did. Feel free to message me if you want to talk about more specifics.

Patricia Turner, SPHR – HR Professional with a passion for strategic business growth, and the people that make it happen.

Hi Kara. Thanks for your question. Boy…you packed a lot of questions into a couple of paragraphs. LOL! First let me first say that one of the best ways that you can find out what employers are looking for while still in school, is by doing exactly what you are doing now…an Internship. Internships are great ways to help you put into practice the academic learning that you have, while also learning about how the corporate/business world works. So you’re on the right track already! I’ll share some of the things that I look for in students who are interviewing for internships or new college hires. I’m usually looking for someone with a strong drive to learn new things (yet humble enough to allow someone to teach them). I also look for someone who is a team player (because almost everything we do involves teams these days), and I look for people who have sought out opportunities to lead in their current lives, even if it’s in non-traditional ways (leading a class project, taking a leadership role in a club or association, etc.). Some of the traits that I think are important for leaders are: Being Strategic (knowing what the current state is, and what you want the end to look like), Being Inspirational (having a vision, and communicating it in a way that makes others want to go along on the journey with you), Being Real (being approachable, and as transparent as possible with people so that they can identify with you as a person). Lastly, I have a strong passion for diversity, and am happy to spend a few minutes on this topic. First, I will say that I can’t talk about diversity, without also talking about inclusion. With that said, I think that one of the key messages of diversity is that it includes EVERYONE. We are all diverse in different ways, and the more companies encourage people to bring their whole self to work everyday, the better it is for everybody, and the better it is for business. Also, I would say that the key to working with diverse groups of people is to know that essentially people are people, and we have the same wants and needs. I go back to the Golden Rule of treating others the way that I want to be treated, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Feel free to message me separately if you would like to discuss more specifics.

Dave Isbell – Assistant Director of Alumni Professional Enrichment at MSU

Thank you Patricia for helping Spartans in this way! Thank you also to those who have participated in this. Though this discussion is now closed, there are new “Spartan Insights” discussions starting all the time in the MSUALUMNI Linkedin group.


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