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Best companies, best practices for keeping a competitive edge

Posted by Chad O'Connor  November 10, 2013 06:00 AM

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EDITOR'S NOTE: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's recent segment on RadioBDC (Tuesdays around 9AM), you can listen to it here.

The 10th Annual Executive Forum "Best Companies, Best Practices: Keeping the Competitive Edge," moderated by Rita B. Allen, co-sponsored by Bentley University, Gatti & Associates and Rita B. Allen Associates, was held on October 24, 2013, at Bentley University. In her welcoming remarks for the tenth anniversary of the event Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University, expressed her enthusiastic support of this forum and emphasized the importance of talent management in organizations. She went on to share many of the accomplishments of Bentley University including the 98% placement rate for its undergraduates (either in jobs or graduate school) and encouraged the HR professionals in the audience to partner with Bentley.

This year’s featured organizations were Harvard Vanguard and Rapid7, both leaders in their industries and recognized last year as two of the Top Places to Work" by the Boston Globe.

Harvard Vanguard was represented by Dr. Michael Pinnolis, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, and Dan Michaud, Chief Human Resources Officer. As the provider of healthcare to one million patients by 1000 physicians in 21 sites, supported by 4000 employees, Harvard Vanguard demonstrates its commitment to quality care with several strategic initiatives addressing reducing costs, increasing quality, improving satisfaction of patients and improving staff engagement. These are accomplished by systems focused on performance and care improvement, managing for daily improvement and productivity, and all are tied to corporate goals.

As CHRO, Michaud and his team are very involved in continuous improvement. From employee surveys every two years (results are above average and improving) to encouraging new ideas, all employees have a stake in the organization’s success. Michaud stated that cultural change takes a long time and requires constant reinforcement and leadership commitment. There is now a common language used throughout Harvard Vanguard stemming from these process improvement initiatives; pilot programs are used and encouraged. By infusing this philosophy and language starting on Day 1 of orientation, and managing for daily improvement, Harvard Vanguard will continue to be a proven leader in the medical landscape.

IT security company Rapid7's Corey Thomas, President and CEO, and Christina Luconi, Chief People Officer, presented insights into a company in hyper-growth mode (350 employees today). As a key component of investing in people strategy, Rapid7 realized early on the need to hire for different skills every year, building those skills, as well as continuing to challenge employees. The organization built in-house Talent Acquisition teams to find the best talent and works with its hiring managers to determine cultural fit, another critical component of their people strategy. The culture is all about "signing up for a cause," and "belonging to a second family" to build a great company. Revenues have increased 10X in the last 4.5 years: Rapid7 attributes its success to a common vision and expectations that are well-defined and communicated throughout the organization; core values bind them together. Both Thomas and Luconi stressed the importance of setting the expectation that change is the norm.

This forum was created 10 years ago for corporate officers, human resource executives and business unit executives to explore how effective “people practices” can have a critical impact on business performance. These results have been showcased by highlighting successful organizations who recognize that their "people-practices" are among the elements that have enabled them to create and retain great leaders. The prestigious list of panelists who have presented over the past 10 years are as follows:

Year 1 – General Electric/NBC and Ritz Carlton Hotels
Year 2 – Thermo Electron and Genzyme Corporation
Year 3 – Jet Blue and Comcast
Year 4 – Liberty Mutual and SAS Institute
Year 5 – Beth Israel Deaconess and IBM
Year 6 – Microsoft, BYN Mellon, Procter & Gamble, and Gatehouse Media
Year 7 – Bright Horizons and VistaPrint
Year 8 – New Balance Athletic Shoe and Constant Contact
Year 9 – Eastern Bank and Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Year 10 – Harvard Vanguard and Rapid7

Rita Balian Allen is the president of Rita B. Allen Associates, a provider of career management/talent management consulting and executive coaching services located in Waltham, Mass., with specialty areas in leadership development, management training and career development. She is also a Lecturer at Northeastern University and Bentley University. Chris Keller is Vice President of Search Services at Gatti & Associates, an international executive search firm specializing exclusively in the search and placement of human resource professionals.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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