Learning & Development Specialist, Hiram Walker & Sons
Thank you for talking to us today, Caroline. Can you please tell us about your role at Hiram Walkers & Sons?
I am the Learning & Development Specialist at Hiram Walkers & Sons and currently work on the performance and learning team for Pernod Ricard North American. I currently focus on supporting the delivery of an exceptional, convivial employee experience through onboarding and leadership development programs for our PRNA employees. I do this by driving employee engagement through different internal communications to encourage professional development opportunities. Additionally, I support our goal setting process, final year performance process, and performance calibrations.
What are the favorite parts of your job?
I’m thankful to have the opportunity to connect with new employees and welcome them to our company through onboarding. It is rewarding to meet and hear about the diverse experiences and skills that our new hires bring to the table.
Did you always envision yourself working in HR?
Growing up I envisioned myself being a teacher. I’ve always known that I would like to help people and in my current role I’ve been able to achieve this by meeting people, discussing where they are in their career, and helping them develop their path for success. HR is a field that relies on your ability to problem solve as new challenges arise. I stay focused by remembering my commitment to making sure people feel engaged, supported, and able to bring their full self to work.
Why Learning and Development versus other functions in HR like recruiting?
The reason I chose learning and development as my HR area focus is because I’m passionate about learning and enjoy that we collaborate with many different functions across the business. I view every day as an opportunity to learn something new. Learning opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and it’s gratifying to see people not only become champions of their learning but champion the growth and development of others.
Why is Learning and Development essential for organizations?
Learning and Development is essential for companies to focus on as part of their employee value proposition. The benefits of L&D are endless for employers and employees alike. From upskilling to reskilling, and retaining to engaging high-potential talent, talent development increases productivity and performance. Companies that sponsor an employee for professional development and training courses send out a clear message – we are interested in your long-term future within our company.
What do you think the 3 most important keys to your success have been?
- Active listening. Almost every idea starts with information that comes from listening. Listening is a critical skill which can be cultivated over time and is essential to being a good leader. By listening to those around you, you instill trust and cultivate innovation as well.
- Self-awareness. Being aware of your strengths and areas of improvement is key to becoming successful. I like to take on a learning mindset so I can learn something new everyday. I enjoy asking those around me for feedback, as it allows me to see things that I am doing well plus what could be hindering me from being my best self.
- Confidence. Being decisive, courageous, bold, and agile can assist you on a daily basis with building your success. You are your greatest ambassador and it’s important for you to acknowledge and take ownership of your successes in life. During the AWE Accelerator sessions, we discussed confidence & resilience and how many women find it difficult to ownership of their accomplishments. That they use the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. From this session I learned that when women are confident and take ownership of their role in a project, it helps open doors in their career or get a promotion.
Did you have any mentors or sponsors while rising through your career? Anyone you want to shout out?
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many strong leaders that have been willing to share their life experiences with me. These experiences have impacted the way that I work day-to-day. I’ve had two sponsors over the past two year; Liz Jacobs, the Director of Leadership Development at Pernod Ricard and Samantha Simons, the Senior Manager of Performance & Learning at Pernod Ricard. Both women are well-connected and respected in our organization. They’ve provided me with exposure to executives, recommended assignments that had opportunities for me to learn, and opened many doors for me. I’m grateful for their sponsorship and the experiences they have shared with me. The greatest compliment that I can give to them is that I hope to be like them in the future.
How has being a part of AWE Accelerator changed how you show up to work everyday? AWE Accelerator Foundations assisted me in showing up to work everyday as my best self. The Accelerator curriculum focuses on a new topic each week, from career and branding, the art of networking, mentors & sponsors, storytelling in business, executive presence, confidence & resilience, etc. My favorite session of the program was the one on executive presence. Starting my career journey in HR virtually, it was a challenge to differentiate executive presence in a virtual format from my understanding of executive presence in-person. This session helped me recognize the differences and how I can work to increase my executive presence.
What was a highlight of AWE Accelerator for you?
I thoroughly enjoyed each session of AWE Accelerator but the highlight of the program for me were the breakout rooms and the discussions that unfolded in them. I’m truly in AWE of the ambitious, strong, and resilient women I’ve met here across different industries. What particularly stood out to me about AWE Accelerator was the positive atmosphere that circulated each session and the level of encouragement shared amongst the women in my cohort. I’m grateful my company provided me with this opportunity to develop.
What is your motivating force in business and in life? Has it changed throughout the years?
My motivation in business and in life is to do good in the world. This has remained consistent throughout the years. A phrase I like to use is ‘you catch more bees with honey. My parents instilled in me the importance of treating others with respect and I like to utilize this lesson on a daily basis.
Can you tell us something about yourself that wouldn’t show up on your resume?
I’d describe myself as a film buff. I enjoy the adventure genre and some of my favorite movies include: The Dark Knight, 300, LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, and Harry Potter.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.