Academy Spotlight: July 2019

July 23rd, 2019

Every month we get the pleasure to speak with some of our most active members, both individuals and enterprises across the globe, to learn more about what HR challenges they’re experiencing, what their goals within the Academy are, and what they are most excited about. We also monitor trending resources and topics gaining momentum within the community so we can surface them from our community to your laptop. This month is all about people, after all, we are an HR Academy. We’ve highlighted one of our most active Academy members, spoken in depth with one ouf our senior faculty members, and we've taken a look at the topic of Career Management featuring the Career Journeys of several academy contributors.


Photo of Kay Nadel Name: Kay Nadel
Title: Director of Talent Development
Company Profile: Empyrean Benefit Solutions
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

What is your current role & background?

I have had 15 years+ experience in HR, and had a wonderful opportunity to join my current employer 9 years ago. The executive team has an extensive number of years in the industry and had started a new era of benefits administration. I joined when we were merely 100 or so employees. Along with the CHRO, I started the foundation of Empyrean’s HR department and continued to grow our HR for another 4-5 years. Once HR was fully functional it was time to switch the focus to talent development. It was an adventure as we had PowerPoints and Subject Matter Experts training but required some forward thought to what we were learning, as well as how and when. I started with moving a few items to online learning, purchasing a Learning Management System (LMS) and so on. It was also an opportunity to link learning to performance management and then into career development which is also part of my wheelhouse. Having a background in HR has allowed a wonderful chance to partner with my HR business partner; I understand when it is time to involve HR and they understand that they can rely on me for learning and guidance of any particular individuals. It has also helped with the development of our leadership curriculum, understanding all the aspects of business as well as HR compliance for easier facilitation.

What are your top strategic priorities this year?

2019 is the year of Performance Management for us— I mean who isn’t thinking about reimagining this?! We’ve changed the way we’re doing performance reviews, reinforcing regular, continual conversations rather than just that 1x annual review between manager and employee. We’re still following our regular annual review process, but are focused on driving more conversations, and cross-functional conversations—not just manager to direct report. I see the value that technology can bring and the linkage that the technology can have to learning, performance and an employee’s career. We recently launched a Performance Management tool to help our employee-base have conversations with managers and peers, and build a habit of prioritizing conversations, asking for and receiving feedback. This has helped us empower employees to take control of conversations.

With the same technology employees are able to talk about developmental opportunities, enroll in the learning that may assist them and then advance to roles that are available or beyond. Into 2020, we will be solidifying career journeys through skill development and matching to relevant roles. Careers can only advance with the conversations built with managers and peers and the learning that is done through multiple ways and means. HR technology has come a long way, from being mostly owned and managed by HR to rather allowing HR professionals to empower individuals to use the technology to build their skills and perform at a high level.

I believe that these are exciting times for talent!

Why did you join the Academy?

I was heads down for a few years laying down the HR foundations for our company and I started to lose track of what’s actually going on in our profession. I realized one day that “something is changing in HR”. I started reading articles (many of which were Josh Bersin’s) and talking with peers and after a while, the content becomes overwhelming, it was a bit of information overload. There were some similar points of view and some different. I began to question, which sources do I trust? I knew that Josh Bersin was a credible source, so I began to view his research as a one-stop-shop for some accurate information and once I heard he was launching his own Academy I knew I had to be part of it!

What HR challenges are you hoping to solve by being a member? What are your goals?

As mentioned we are looking ahead into 2020, I’d like to focus on Careers, specifically Career Development. With all of the changes taking place in the modern workplace, I know there are new ways we should be looking at Careers within our organization, but what do these career journeys really look like for each of our employees? And how are all of the pieces working together in an ecosystem to address skill shortages, new communication methods, new technologies, etc.? My goals are to become an expert on how all of these pieces work together and leverage Performance Management strategies to help ensure our company has the right skills developed, and have Talent Development be the backbone of the way forward.

What are you loving about the Academy?

This sounds silly, but I love that there is a script with each of the learning videos so that I can choose which way I want to learn—sometimes I’m more effective at reading and listening rather than watching a video. The Academy really considers multiple learning styles. I also enjoy that the content within the academy is bite-sized or what we HR practitioners call “microlearning”, it is not overwhelming. Whether I’m waiting for an appointment or grabbing a quick cup of coffee I can read the content within each program in a quick and effective way. Last but not least, it’s tried and tested! You can put a question out there into the Academy’s community and get answers back on best practices or new ideas you’d never thought of for approaching a challenge. I love getting feedback and practical knowledge from peers and experts in the industry.


Drawing of people talking

One of the most disruptive changes in the world of work is the new way we manage our careers. Only a few decades ago people relied on their employers for a career, and we more or less trusted our boss to help us advance over time. Today this has radically changed, giving birth to a new set of challenges, a new market of tools, and an exciting new marketplace for job seekers. As HR practitioners this disruption applies to us as well, how we manage our career journeys must also evolve. Learn from contributors in the Academy on how they’ve evolved their careers and what they’ve learned along their career journey. Handfuls of Career Journey video’s can be found within the Resources section of the Academy.


Dr. Melissa Hungerford’s array of experiences in the world of talent management and leadership development has shaped her perspective on the importance of culture in terms of business success. The 2m video snippet below from the Academy Resources features a little more about her background and career journey.

#MyCareerJourney: MEET GREG PRYOR

Greg Pryor has been in the Human Capital space his entire career and is a second generation HR Leader following his father's footsteps. Currently, he is an SVP People and Performance Evangelist at Workday. This Resource features a little more about his background and career journey.

Share your own career story in the Academy Community or on social by using the hashtag #MyCareerJourney.


Last week the Academy introduced our Senior Faculty, 13 experienced HR practitioners from across all industries and disciplines of HR that members can learn from, interact with, and pose questions to. This week, we have the pleasure of featuring one of those Senior Faculty, Nancy Vitale.

“Our senior faculty, all of whom have decades of professional experience, will bring their knowledge and advice to community conversations to ensure a rich, informative, and engaging experience for our members.” — Josh Bersin


Photo of Nancy Vitale Nancy is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Partners for Wellbeing, a boutique People/HR advisory and consulting firm that is dedicated to bringing holistic wellbeing to organizations, enabling them to be great places to work for all of their people. Most recently, Nancy was the CHRO for Genentech, a mission-driven biotech company located in the Bay Area. Her career experiences have led her to helping other organizations effectively invest in the holistic wellbeing of their people as the key to living well, working well and being at their best. When people can be at their best, they can work at their best. This is her purpose and passion.

What are your primary areas of expertise (in HR)?

Most recently, I was the CHRO for Genentech, which required me to have a broad perspective, strategically thinking about all areas of human resources. I've spent most of my career as a business partner, but have also spent focused time in the learning realm. I have extensive experience in complex organizational environments and in organizational change and achievement of business strategy and goals. My broad industry experience includes Pharmaceutical/Biotech, Consumer Products, Healthcare/Insurance, Consulting, Office Imaging, and Publishing.

Tell us how and why you got involved with the holistic wellbeing side of HR?

My career experiences have led me to want to help other organizations effectively invest in the holistic wellbeing of their people as the key to living well, working well and being at their best. I fundamentally believe that when people can be at their best, they can work at their best. This became my purpose and passion over the last years, shaped by what my team and I implemented at Genentech.

How and why did you get involved in the Josh Bersin Academy?

I have known Josh for many years. I have followed his research through the years and have always held him in high regard. When Josh told me about the academy and the opportunity to engage in the platform to help elevate the profession and craft of HR, I jumped at the opportunity. I am also very excited about the academy's focus on wellbeing as one of its key programs.

What's your #1 tip for HR leaders and organizations beginning to invest in the holistic wellbeing of their employees?

It's hard to narrow it down to a #1 tip, but the key for me is the holistic component of wellbeing. Re-examining how HR practitioners support the multi-faceted aspects of our people's wellbeing through the dimensions of career/fulfillment, social/relationship, physical/mental, financial and community wellbeing. That said, be mindful not to get overwhelmed by trying to support everything for everyone out of the gate. Set out to learn to understand your people's needs, then experiment and iterate based on what you learn.

What benefits can organizations expect to see as a result?

There is a growing body of research highlighting that investments in wellbeing result in a significant return on value. One example of this comes from a recent Optum/National Business Group on Health study, highlighting that investment in multiple dimensions of well-being is correlated with high levels of employee productivity, loyalty (eNPS) and employee wellbeing.

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