Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Interview: Alan Cherry of Picarro, Inc Uses the Skill of Listening to Achieve Great Employee Relations

Girish: Describe your current job

Alan: I am the Head of HR for 100 person start-up in the environmental/Energy space. I am responsible for key programs in the areas of hiring, employee relations, training and development, creation and maintenance of a great culture.

My goal is to set up the company for explosive growth as we scale the business, hopefully towards a future IPO.

I am a part of the Executive team that sets the strategy for the company

Girish: Tell us about your early career and what it was that made you decide on a career in HR

Alan: I took a general business studies degree and as a part of this did some work in the Human Resources arena. I found I was very interested in the HR world and subsequently took a full time post-graduate program in HR.

I found a job in a large Manufacturing organization making Industrial turbines and soon discovered I was very passionate and successful in the world of HR and broad general people programs. I was always interested in the business as well as the HR side and this helped.

Girish: What is your average day at work like?

Alan: There is no average day, every day is different and it is hard to predict how any day will turn out. This is what I like about the job I can be involved in high level strategic discussions around where we are taking the business, or I can be interviewing a scientist or I can organizing a BBQ to help morale....

I like that I am called upon to show incredible diversity and flexibility...

Girish: What is your biggest HR challenge?

Alan: Working with the Executive team to get them to play well together and have productive meetings, to make quality decisions and to coach individual behaviors.

Second up is to ensure we are always bring top, top talent into the company and we can only do this if we maintain a superb value proposition that makes us attractive versus the bigger players in the Valley.

Girish: What has been the highlight of your career in HR?

Alan: I have traveled the world connecting with employees in many companies and helping them to perform better. Delivering training programs in Europe, Middle East and Africa, North America and Asia Pacific has been very rewarding.

Girish: How has HR helped the bottom line of your company?

Alan: We enable the success of the company. We allow a smaller team of better qualified and experienced employees to beat companies that are much larger than us... HR is not seen as a cost center but as value add to many different business processes.

Girish: What according to you is the BEST and the WORST thing about being in HR?

Alan: Best: Meeting and hiring incredibly talented people, coaching and developing employees, being part of a winning team

Worst: If you set it up correctly there is little that could be seen as bad....maybe explaining the role of HR to employees that have never seen a good HR function before and have a set view of what HR can do for them....

Girish: What strategies do you use to retain your staff?

Alan: Maintain a great environment and culture, hire super talented people, let the enjoy working together and ensure everyone knows and believes in the vision of the company, make it meaningful to everyone.

Playing on a winning team really helps...

Girish: What according to you is the most important HR skill?

Alan: Listening

Girish: How do you manage company culture?

Alan: You don't manage the culture; you enable the culture by guiding the behaviors of the employees and reinforcing the values of the company.

Girish: How do our readers get in touch with you?

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