Hosts: Mike Ogle and Hinesh Patel

In This Episode:

We speak with Jodi Gorenstein, currently Vice President and HR Business Partner at Shiseido. Jodi shares her career path, starting at American Express, and her focus on a career in human resources, along with her views on supply chain careers. Jodi provides valuable perspectives on self-awareness, the ability to listen, having empathy, and being the kind of leader that creates true followership. Her advice is not to worry about pursuing a linear path, but to establish a strong network and great communications capabilities that will help determine your path. She also emphasizes the value of advocating for yourself, the value of mentoring, and continuously improving and growing.

Jodi Gorensteins’s Bio:

Jodi Gorenstein is an insightful and agile HR leader with 20+ years of experience driving change and creating a positive employee experience amid ambiguity, across industries including Beauty, Media, and Financial Services. She is currently VP, HR at Shiseido, a global beauty company, leading HR for the US Commercial organization, consisting of Retail, Digital, Sales, and Marketing employees.
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Transcript:

I have had the great benefit of finding a career I think I’m relatively good at, and I absolutely love. Every day is a new challenge. And that’s what keeps me excited and engaged. I’ve been an HR business partner for over 20 years. I’ve had the great, great opportunity of supporting a wide range of groups, global, US, sales organizations, marketing, digital, and so on.

I started my HR career at American Express and I literally fell into it and is where I got my HR foundation. I was there for 15 years and had the extreme benefit and pleasure of supporting so many different groups and really being a part of an organization that was best in class from both an HR standpoint and an overall leadership and business standpoint. And I still draw on those experiences today and it’s been seven plus years since I left there.

Since leaving Amex, I’ve been attracted to what I like to say, companies that are going through a lot of change and might have maybe scrappier HR functions, because I’ve found that to be my sweet spot. Those types of roles enabled me to really leverage my foundational HR experience and drive real innovation and change in the HR space.

So, I have led HR for a media ad agency. I’ve led HR for global and North America teams within the beauty world. And now most recently I have the great responsibility of leading HR for our US commercial organization, which includes employees who are in the stores that we own, employees who are negotiating with and calling upon our retail beauty partners, as well as I look after our America’s digital transformation team, marketing teams, visual merchandising and store design, as well as sales enablement.

Absolutely. Well, I’ve had some roles at companies where we created things and I had roles that were more of what we call professional services, like an ad agency, or even American Express for that matter. So, my supply chain experience has been around my Coty experience as well as my Shiseido experience, which is my current role. And supply chain is an enormous piece of the overall success of the business. You can have all the best marketing people in the world and all the best product development people and create products that the consumers want and create media and have the investment in the media to back up those amazing products. But if you cannot get the supply chain to get those products into the hands of the customers, then you’re not going to win and it is not easy and it is a critical, critical aspect of bringing products to market and seeing success. So, I have full appreciation for those in the supply chain and operations realm.

I’m really glad you asked that question because we all know it’s that important yin and yang, that combination of the hard and the soft skills, right? Of course, anyone who’s going to come to the table and prep for an interview for a role has to have those hard skills that are appropriate for that role. But it’s the soft skills that are less tangible, but incredibly important. So in no particular order, I think having a self-awareness is incredibly important. Having the ability to empathize, understand, listen, appreciate where a group has come from and what their journey involved and really listening. And that takes a high EQ as well as high degree of self-awareness. People who are open to feedback.

I’m a big believer in the growth mindset. I’m sure you’ve both read the Carol Dweck book and probably many of your listeners have as well. The mindset of we all have more things to learn. We can always be improving ourselves and self-awareness is a big aspect of that. Care for people. I mentioned earlier that is a really important aspect for me. And one of the reasons why I was attracted to Shiseido because of their focus on people. And that has proven to be the case 10 times over. And I can say that as a person who sits on the health and safety task force for our region. So, care for people and not just paying lip service to that, but actually demonstrating that in terms of how you run your company, the culture you build, the policies, the practices, et cetera. I mentioned empathy. Empathy is really important and definitely learned that during the pandemic, appreciating that people are coming from all different places is especially engaging like this over video during the pandemic.

Communications are key for me and a person who can succinctly communicate written and verbal. Yes. But communicate with transparency. Have that bravery to push back to respectfully challenge, to drive innovation, drive change, and have the tough conversations. And we’ll probably get into this, but it breaks my heart. Every time I speak to an employee who says that they don’t know where they stand from a company standpoint. They don’t know where they stand from a career standpoint. They’ve never asked the question and maybe their leader wasn’t brave enough to give them the harsh feedback, but I feel strongly that we owe that to everyone and to ourselves, to be honest and map out a career path for individuals.

I’m sure we’ll get into this a bit further in terms of my tips for some of your listeners, but networking is really important. It’s about asking people, what does it take to be successful in this role at this company? Meet with as many people as you can. Gather people’s ideas in terms of EQ assessments, there are tons of assessments that are free and that you can access online. There are tons of people out there who would be happy to engage with you and give you some

perspective. And I think it’s also important to leverage those who were in your personal network already, people that you trust, and ask them for feedback and demonstrate that you are not afraid to get tough feedback, because if they think you are, they’re not going to want to give you the tough feedback.

Yeah, it’s a great question. And just like working with our internal partners, it’s bringing that respect, bringing that understanding of the business, right. You never want to be reached out to by a vendor who doesn’t get your business and is completely coming out of left field. And we all get many, many emails from vendors who were interested in engaging with us. So how do you differentiate yourself? How do you really understand what’s most important to that company and to that person and the role that that person plays, that you are trying to make a connection with? Really come at it from a symbiotic relationship in terms of how you can help each other.

When vendors come in and don’t understand the history of your company and how you came to be, it just sets that relationship back a bit. And again, people who are respectful, who are good communicators, who will listen and be action oriented.

I absolutely love this question. I don’t know about you both, but my career was not a linear path. It seems like yesterday that I was a senior getting ready to graduate college and I had no idea what I wanted to do. And I thought that all my other friends had it figured out. Well, I would like to impart some wisdom to your listeners who fall into that category to say, don’t worry, it will all work out. Follow your passion, meet with as many people as you can to understand what jobs entail. Sometimes we have a vision of what a job might be like on a day to day basis and that vision is incorrect. So you want to talk to as many people as you can, and then weed out what you’re interested in and what you’re not interested in. Weeding out is half the game.

The passion that you have today and the focus you have today will evolve and that’s okay. So really try to define something that you love doing. You enjoy. You want to continue to learn more about and push yourself to step out of your comfort zone. And again, network, network, network, leverage everyone in your network, even if it’s your mothers, sisters, cousins, neighbor, doesn’t matter. LinkedIn is your friend. It’s the greatest tool for networking. And there are lots of tips and tricks to navigate through LinkedIn.

Building upon what I had said, I would have told my younger self don’t worry. You don’t have to have everything figured out minute one of graduation. And even when you think you figured it out, Things will evolve and don’t get comfortable. There is no shame in changing your mind and figuring things out and again, listen, ask questions. Network. Internships are obviously very common these days, but really maximize those. To build up that repertoire of experiences again, so you can determine what you like and what you don’t like.

Mentorship continues to be a buzzword. I think the first step is defining what mentorship is, because it can mean different things. Mentorship can be based on a relationship you have with a leader or someone at work, or can be more formal in terms of, you raise your hands to be a mentor or mentee in a mentorship program. It’s understanding the definition and recognizing that there are various types of mentors. So, I’ve had the benefit of some really great leaders. And I’ve also had the benefit of experiencing some not so great leaders, which isn’t your question, but I want to acknowledge that we learn just as much from the great leaders as we learn from those less than, so in terms of mentorship, understand what it is you really want to get out of the relationship.

Maybe you’re working on your communication style and maybe you want someone who’s in those meetings with you to give you that honest feedback after you present something, after you lead a meeting. And again, like I said earlier, when you are seeking out these individuals, it’s really important that you’re clear on what your goals are. You’re obviously respectful in terms of what you’re asking for them and commit to them that you want to hear the good, bad and ugly. So I know that you’re really open to hearing it.

It can be connecting with people who will give you advice as you’re embarking on a career search. I’ve played that role for many people. And many people have played that role for me. Someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to say, Hey, I have this opportunity. This is what I’m thinking about it. What do you think? And someone who could push back to say, well, how is this going to help you advance your career? What about this role excites you? What concerns do you have? A mentor can be so many different things.

Mentorship continues to be a buzzword. I think the first step is defining what mentorship is, because it can mean different things. Mentorship can be based on a relationship you have with a leader or someone at work, or can be more formal in terms of, you raise your hands to be a mentor or mentee in a mentorship program. It’s understanding the definition and recognizing that there are various types of mentors. So, I’ve had the benefit of some really great leaders. And I’ve also had the benefit of experiencing some not so great leaders, which isn’t your question, but I want to acknowledge that we learn just as much from the great leaders as we learn from those less than, so in terms of mentorship, understand what it is you really want to get out of the relationship.

Maybe you’re working on your communication style and maybe you want someone who’s in those meetings with you to give you that honest feedback after you present something, after you lead a meeting. And again, like I said earlier, when you are seeking out these individuals, it’s really important that you’re clear on what your goals are. You’re obviously respectful in terms of what you’re asking for them and commit to them that you want to hear the good, bad and ugly. So I know that you’re really open to hearing it.

It can be connecting with people who will give you advice as you’re embarking on a career search. I’ve played that role for many people. And many people have played that role for me. Someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to say, Hey, I have this opportunity. This is what I’m thinking about it. What do you think? And someone who could push back to say, well, how is this going to help you advance your career? What about this role excites you? What concerns do you have? A mentor can be so many different things.

I’m glad you asked that. Focusing on ourselves is ongoing. You could devote half your day to it. You could devote an hour a day to it. And it’s whatever feels right for you. But there are so many different ways. So, signing up to be on email distributions that send you push updates in your industry. I’m sure many of your listeners just like me have alerts on their email, so you can stay current on what’s happening in your sector or in sectors that you’re interested in and moving into. For me, I joined networking coffee chats to talk with other HR leaders about what are you doing about vaccination verification. What are you doing about return to office, et cetera? So, it’s finding those networking opportunities. It could be a coffee chat. It could be a one-on-one. It could be a webinar where you can hear perspectives from other people who are trying to figure things out and lead through change just like you and your organization. So, tapping into those, listening to podcasts, such as this one and LinkedIn. LinkedIn has lots of information in terms of groups to get involved in, articles, so I would definitely encourage your listeners to spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn and other social media. Just reading up about areas of interest.

First let me just say that talent assessment is such an important process within an organization, and it’s a process that can’t be done just once a year and then the results sit in someone’s inbox. It’s really important that the organization challenges their teams to have those robust conversations around succession planning, talent, risks, skills needed for the future. And that they’re constantly revisiting that. So again, it’s some of the skills that we’ve talked about, the agility, the leadership.

Those that don’t just have the hard skills, but can create followership. People who are seen as change makers, change drivers, innovators, people who are seen as having care for their employees, whether they champion for employees to move to other roles, get promoted, expand their responsibilities, et cetera. All of that creates their brand. This is an important aspect to mention, I feel self-awareness and career development is knowing what your personal brand is and getting enough input that you understand how people perceive you, whether that’s the perception you want them to have or not. That’s incredibly important. Having people who can create that followership, where if they’re starting a new

team, they have people lined up to say, Hey, I want to work for Mike. I want to work for Hinesh. I’ve seen what they can do. And it’s not just from a hard skill standpoint. So that followership is really important. That EQ, people who can lead through change, even when it means it’s impacting them personally. People who can put that aside and still drive change for the greater good of the organization. People who are self-aware people who are respectful.

Yeah, absolutely. And this advice is gender neutral. I understand your question, but I would give the same advice to anyone of any gender. You want to champion for yourself. So, whenever someone comes to me and unfortunately is often women, but not always, explaining that they feel that they should get a salary increase regardless of what the rationale is, or if we do it or not, I always applaud them for coming forward. You absolutely need to come forward and ask the question.

Certainly, it goes without saying, but unfortunately it needs to be said, do not tolerate any kind of mistreatment. And this is where I’ll make a plug for HR. Don’t be afraid of HR, your human resources partners are your friends. They are advocating for you as employees, as well as helping the business be successful. And those two things are very much linked. So, if you feel that you were being mistreated, if you’ve observed others being mistreated, It’s very, very important to come forward and speak to someone. That is not something that you should be harboring quietly on your own.

I have a funny story about advocating for yourself. So, when I was at American Express, I was pregnant with my second son and I had applied for promotional HR business partner opportunity within the same group and the leader of that group sat in an office, a couple of feet away from me. So, I would see him every day. We would chat on his way to get coffee or whatnot. And I never heard anything about my application. And I thought that was odd because I was already on the team and I was an internal employee, never heard anything. And then one day I approached him. And I asked about the opportunity. I expressed my interest. I expressed why I thought I was ready, why I’d be a great fit for the role. And it was like a light bulb went off in his head that prior to that moment, he hadn’t thought about me for that role. But when I pointedly asked him a light bulb went off and he said, you’re right, we should interview you. So the timing wasn’t perfect because once he realized this, I was literally about to give birth. So he quickly scheduled interviews for me with the main clients that this role would support. And of course, I wound up giving birth three days early, so those meetings didn’t happen. And then I had to come in from maternity leave and interview for this role. But I did it and I got the job. It was an amazing, amazing opportunity. Looking back. I probably should have advocated for myself even sooner, but again, you need to be your own champion. You can’t just wait for things to come your way.

I’ll start with what I would share myself aside from what I’ve already mentioned. Negotiate. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you’re worth. There’s no harm in doing that. What’s the worst that can happen. You don’t get exactly where you’re asking for, but you might get a little bit more than they had previously offered. So, don’t sell yourself short. Be thoughtful, be respectful, be a good communicator, be a team player because you can be an incredibly smart person with an incredible resume, but if people don’t enjoy working with you, it’s going to be hard to be successful. So, build those relationships that are based on trust and respect, show people you respect them, show people you will put yourself out for them, and they will most likely return in kind. You want to be a team player. You want to be valuable to your employee. I have had many career opportunities where I’ve raised my hand and said, I can take on more responsibility and I would not have done any of those experiences differently. So again, it’s being brave and raising your hands and not expecting that those opportunities are going to come your way, but you have to ask for them. Don’t sell yourself short and again, network, network, network, where you put out to the universe will definitely come back to you.

I mean, this is my day to day, right? I am someone who doesn’t get rattled. I expect that different things are going to be thrown my way every day. And again, I see one of my important roles is helping employees really be their best selves. We also do a lot of self-discovery. So, whenever someone comes to me with a problem, first of all, as much as I want to jump to a solution and a recommendation, I stopped myself from doing that. Whoever it is, whatever level, if it’s someone on my HR team, if it’s a leader, it’s important that they think about what the solution is that they own that solution. And then I can chime in with my suggestions. Certainly, there are some cases where. the leader or employee has no idea what to do. And then we had to get to the solution quickly together.

I’m dealt with these situations every day. And what I pride myself on is being open and transparent. So, if it’s something that I need to think about. I’m going to tell the person, I need to think about that and I will get back to you. But most of the time I’m giving real time what I like to call tough love because some of these are not easy conversations and no one’s going to gain if I sugarcoat things, if I tell someone this really, isn’t such a big deal. Don’t worry about that. If that’s not the case, I’m not helping them. I’m not helping the business I’m not helping the people involved. So again, you’re able to do that when you’ve already built the trust and people know that they’re going to get an honest answer from me.

If it’s a case where someone wants to maintain anonymity, I will tell them from the beginning, thank you for coming forward with this. I’m going to explain to you if I can maintain anonymity, and if it’s something where you’re going to share with me, someone who is at harm, then I’m telling you right now, I may not be able to maintain anonymity, but at the least I will let you know what I can share if anything, and I will let you know if I can’t maintain anonymity. So again, just being open and transparent and being respectful. Because sometimes the most senior leader is coming to you with things that may be embarrassing or maybe really challenging for them. And just showing that empathy and acknowledging, Hey, I understand that this is probably really difficult or really awkward, and working together on a solution.

I really devote a fair amount of time to networking. So again, sign up for alerts, right? Whether they’re articles, whether they’re webcasts, different organizations you can be a part of, or you can just sign up to be on their distribution lists. Make it a point of connecting with people on an ongoing basis. So, I suggest people do the same. And with those connections, I get led to other people and other people. So that’s how I find out about these things. Again, you need to put out into the universe what you’re looking for. You just have to ask for what you need.

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