IAM1723 – CEO Develops Strategic Human Capital Management

Podcast Interview with Angela Finlay

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Angela has a ton of experience with human capital management and it really helps to shape her perspective and the services that she provides but also her experience as a professor. She talked about why she didn't subscribe to best practices and also looking at things from the business financial perspective.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2022/04/18/iam1344-ceo-develops-strategic-human-capital-management/


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Angela Finlay Teaser 00:00

Instead of just the intuition that you typically get in HR or here's what everybody does in HR, but really just what are those key drivers in the financial indicators that tell us we're doing well as a business, and let me figure out how to back into what you should be doing to be able to hit them.

Intro 00:21

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:48

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. And if you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset, talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to great renovation. And if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent, and how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. And that's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month. We are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focuses on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Angela Finlay of Windward Human Capital Management.

Angela, it's great to have you on the show.

Angela Finlay 02:21

It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me, Gresham.

Gresham Harkless 02:24

Yes, I'm super excited to have you on and for all the awesomeness that you've been doing. Before we jumped into the interview, of course, I wanted to read a little bit more about Angela so you can hear about some of those awesome things.

Angela is a Chief Human Capital strategist at Windward Human Capital Management, LLC. Angela was a former CHRO/ Head of HR at organizations ranging from Global Fortune 150 to small startup companies. She's currently a lecturer and adjunct professor in leadership strategy in human capital management, including Columbia University's Master in Human Capital Management Program.

Angela, excited again to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Angela Finlay 03:03

I am excited to be here.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:06

Awesome. Let's do it then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

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Angela Finlay 03:13

Wonderful. Happy to share it. So my story would start with I was never gunning to have my own business and be a CEO. So interestingly enough, I actually got out of college thinking I was going to head into accounting. After being put in front of large pieces of paper and running G and GL type of calculations, I decided that just wasn't going to be me. I had an opportunity where there was a partner in the firm who said, hey, I think you'd be great in HR and pivoted my career at that point. Spent the next 10 years leading HR functions in accounting firms. While I was there, I also had a chance which really what got me into thinking about consulting, where when you do great things in accounting firms, they try to figure out how to farm you out to clients to make you billable, right?

So with that perspective, they started giving me to their clients saying, hey, she can help you with that. Or, oh, you're having an issue with trying to figure out how to get your technology to work, she can talk to you about HR technology, or she can talk to you about what type of policies you should have. And so had the chance to do that with some small and mid-size businesses. Loved the problem-solving aspect of it all. Thinking grew in this challenge kind of how all the pieces came together.

I always said my interesting piece or the part that I always brought to the table as I started my career as an accountant, so I always start with the numbers and the business focus, which seem to have resumed with clients. I do often joke though that I'm not sure what partners in the world would've agreed to give some 20 some year old clients and let them talk about HR, but somehow was successful when I did it and certainly loved doing it. I had the opportunity even sell my own clients and bring in businesses that the firm hadn't had before. So it was just a wonderful experience.

With that being said, I decided that after 10 years of working with accountants, I needed to make a change if I really wanted to get out of accounting and shifted into a role at a large Japanese conglomerate where I had the responsibility for America's region. As the years went on, had the opportunity to again consult with companies that we were acquiring and loved it. It was one of those things where we would bring in a company and they were having challenges, bringing in engineers and being able to talk to them about what different strategies you can take, including getting into colleges and striving to build programs so that fed into the talent that they needed going forward. And just had a great time working with such a varied group of businesses from power plants in Mexico to retail, high-end men's fashion in New York. It was just all across the board in just a great time. Loved the role.

But when traveling became a lot for a growing family, when you're on the road every week, I made the decision to jump into a CHRO Chief Human Resource Officer role at a community bank where we had essentially a mission to turn around a sleepy 1970s thrift savings bank and then sell it in a few years. Again, loved the idea of coming in, triaging kind of a workforce and a function that needed to change and update and being able to just have an end game and know what you were working towards was just a great time.

When the bank sold I actually bowed out of the opportunity for any potential positions and decided this was the time to hang up the sign and create my own consulting business which became more human capital management to get back to really the things that I loved in my career and really start to embark on that. Given the experiences I've had over the 20 years of doing this, gave me a chance to really share that with small to mid-size businesses that don't typically have the finances to get that support.

Gresham Harkless 07:28

Absolutely. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more and hear a little bit more on how you're serving the clients that you work with. Could you take us through a little bit more about what that looks like?

Angela Finlay 07:36

Sure. So I, sat back when I started to create the business and really said, what are the ways that I can bring the most impact and value to two small, mid-size businesses from my experience? Based on that, I decided that the business would focus on four key areas and those would be the lanes that we hang out in.

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So the first is what we call fractional HR leader services. It's our opportunity to get strategic and tactical HR support to business owners without them having to bring on headcount and without them having to pay a large price tag for that more senior level person.

The second thing that we focus on is internal HR leader services. We help organizations who are transitioning from one leader to another with the kind of just looking at what they have done, what skills they had, what structure they had, and what should it look like going forward.

The third thing that we focus on is really HR function transformations. We work with the owners and the leaders who aren't feeling that their HR programs are supporting them or are frustrated with what they're getting from their HR function and help identify and implement changes that they need to create a function that's really much more business focused.

Lastly, we've been getting involved with M&A transactions from the talent and HR side. Whether it be working through HR issues, in due diligence or post-merger integration, which I often joke I've seen time and time again in my experience between Zui and even with the bank was talent issues quickly become your biggest issues, but are the ones we never actually pay attention to.

Gresham Harkless 09:32

I wanted to hear a little bit more on what you think is your secret sauce. It could be for yourself individually, the business, or a combination of both. But I don't know if you already touched on this, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Angela Finlay 09:42

A good thought to have to run through when you're running a business. When I step back, I think there are kind of two pieces that are really just the differentiators for us. Number one is I don't buy the whole concept of best practices, right? I have seen organizations do amazing things by creating their own little way of approaching it. And so I've always looked at what it is we're trying to get to from a business perspective and back into how we should be thinking about talent programs and things along those lines. I've never felt that you should start with talent programs and then try and push it into business results. And with that being said, everything really needs to make sense for the organization.

The second thing that's kind of the secret sauce is I have come at things quite often from more of the business financial perspective instead of just the intuition that you typically get in HR or here's what everybody does in HR. But really just what are those key drivers in the financial indicators that tell us we're doing well as a business? And let me figure out how to back into what you should be doing. To be able to hit that.

Gresham Harkless 11:01

Absolutely appreciate that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Angela Finlay 11:13

So I am currently in the middle of reading the book, Think Again by Adam Grant. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that, but the whole premise of the book is that we need to constantly choose courage over comfort. What that means is we should constantly rethink what we know and what I love about it is that what has made us experts in our career and brought us to our CEO positions or having our consulting practices will not actually sustain us in the future.

I love the whole concept and premise of it and think it's foundational to have or poached everything in life. Because I had a mentor through the years who used to tell me the secret to success is being uncomfortable. And if you are ever sitting there and fully comfortable, you are not growing and learning and going to be successful. With that, I've really driven a lot of my success in my career and certain things that I've done with clients from the perspective of let's be comfortable being uncomfortable to allow us to constantly evolve and learn and grow.

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I think it also brings a sense of humility that we're not that great and that you're not an expert in everything, and that it pushes us to continue to be better tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Gresham Harkless 12:38

Nice. I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. So it's a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Angela Finlay 12:52

So my nugget would be owning your own lane. So when I started the business, I always said we're always trying to be everything to everyone and so if someone came and said, hey, could you do this? I'd be like, yes, I'd love to do that. At some point, you need to step back and really say, where does my business thrive and what are those lanes where I know that I can bring the most value, I can have the most impact in organizations, and that I can really be successful to create a long-term strategy?

That's really been the learning along the way and the learning that I would share with anybody is just when you get into the business being really abundantly clear on where your skillsets lie, where the value lies, and being comfortable, going back to my comfortable being comfortable saying no to business when it just doesn't fit with the model that you can really sustain and add value in.

Gresham Harkless 13:57

I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and we're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on this show.

So Angela, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Angela Finlay 14:06

So one of the things when I decided to embark on my own was, I thought back on leadership, right? I'd led teams that were 60 people to two people. They were often in pretty rigid businesses where I always felt like I had to conform to the expectations of what leaders needed to be there, which was not human-centered. Some of those industries and were much more kind of money and time-focused. And that was the number one priority.

From my perspective, CEO redefined, at least from a leadership perspective, is really my opportunity to lean into being an authentic leader. For me, it's really thinking through how can I be more long-term focused. When you're in a publicly treated company, and we tend to be very short-term focused, right? But how can I be more long-term focused? Vision-driven, right?

Understanding what's the priority and what really won't make things tick and first and most importantly, lead with heart and self-awareness about really creating strong, impactful relationships. That I think will really make it a better opportunity and really help for a longer-term success from a CEO and leadership perspective.

Gresham Harkless 15:30

So Angela, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people could get ahold of you. Find about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Angela Finlay 15:45

Everybody can reach me whether it's through LinkedIn, which I think you'll have in the show notes which I would love to connect and talk about some of my favorite topics around talent and business impact. And my business is at Windwardhcm.com

Gresham Harkless 16:08

Absolutely. I truly appreciate that, Angela, and just like you mentioned, we will have the links and information in the show notes as well too. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of day.

Outro 16:16

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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