Faces of HR

Faces of HR: For Deb LaMere, Staying Outside of Your Comfort Zone Leads to Success

In college, Deb LaMere knew that she wanted to help people, which is why she initially intended to pursue a career in medicine. Along her college journey, however, she segued into business with an emphasis in human resources. At this time, LaMere knew that she wanted to make an impact and how she could do it.

“By participating in hiring people (even doctors), I knew I could contribute to an organization’s success, as well as continue to support people’s ambitions,” LaMere shared with HR Daily Advisor. “HR today plays such a pivotal role in influencing an organization’s strategic business decisions. To be effective, it’s all about understanding the business then partnering with other leaders to execute on the vision from a people perspective. That can mean assisting in the development of an organization’s employees or in helping create the culture of an organization.”

Deb LaMere

LaMere started her career in the industry working in an HR service center for a large healthcare organization. Shortly thereafter, she took on a myriad of assignments within the function, including benefits, analytics, recruiting and generalist work. “When an opportunity came along to move into technology, I jumped at the chance,” LaMere recalled. “I’ve always been a firm believer in challenging myself and moving outside of my comfort zone. It’s not always easy and there may be setbacks, but so long as you are growing, you are moving forward.”

Today, Deb LaMere is Chief Human Resources Officer at Datasite, a leading Saas provider for the M&A industry. In her role, LaMere is responsible for the firm’s human resources strategy and collaborates with the fast-growing technology company’s leadership globally to build a culture that attracts, retains, and develops top talent.

In our latest Faces of HR profile, meet Deb LaMere. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?

I think the same reasons that attracted me to a career in human resources – helping people, while having a positive impact on an organization’s success – continue to keep me in the industry. Human resources is always changing, always interesting. I also love technology and at Datasite, I play a significant role in helping select technology for the company. Technology has become so important to delivering services, engaging with customers, and providing business continuity. I love using it to help connect our employees, especially as so many of us continue to work remotely, to make communication and interaction easier for all. For example, we know we are competing in a hot market for technology talent, and we understand that employees have a choice when it comes to employers.

Celebrating employee achievements can go a long way in letting employees know they are valued. That’s why I was thrilled to introduce a peer-to-peer recognition tool that simplifies and gamifies this process, allowing employees to celebrate everything from work anniversaries to project wins, all while connecting with each other to reinforce organizational values. At the same time, we also introduced new communications tools that allows for two-way communication to make it even easier for employees to connect with each other and stay informed about company announcements and even fun activities. It was tough dealing with the pandemic and these tools gave us the ability to keep employees connected and supported during a stressful time.

I also like looking for activities that can help employees be more mindful and encourage them to relax. For example, we provided instructor-led virtual meditation sessions to all employees in October, as part of recognizing World Mental Health Day. Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the day seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. With the pandemic negatively affecting so many people’s mental health, this year’s theme of making mental health care a reality for all was a great opportunity to help raise awareness, as well as show employees, customers and stakeholders how much mental health matters to Datasite. As a result of the good experience our employees had, we are now looking at meditation apps with corporate accounts that our employees can use to unwind.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. How can company leaders make HR a value within their organization?

The pandemic created unique challenges for employees, including the transition to working from home, the blurring of work and life when work was now from home, or the parental challenges of assuming the role of teachers or chief technology officers. In addition, we, as a society, faced several social issues.  All of which has made me think about the world of work, social and public health issues, and the environment. To be effective today, HR leaders need to address these issues, which are also of growing importance to an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. Ultimately, people want to work for employers that are inclusive, diverse, sustainable, and purpose driven. We do this at Datasite by focusing on providing attractive benefits and creating and maintaining a culture that is flexible and makes employees feel connected and seen.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

As we are still emerging from the global pandemic and all the changes that has meant to how and where we work, challenges and opportunities around hybrid work models will continue to be top of mind. Likewise, initiatives focused on improving environmental, social and governance factors will also be important to an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. In fact, our own Datasite research shows that 82% of dealmakers, our clients, say a company’s ESG policies, including those related to climate change, are important to candidates when evaluating a job opportunity.

We’re also looking at the total experience our employees have at Datasite – from the point of their first application, joining the company, their time with the company to leaving. These are all crucial points along the path and we want to make sure the experience is a good one. In fact, we’ve recently created a new role at the company to oversee the employee experience. Finally, building critical skills and competencies will remain a priority. For example, next month at Datasite we are launching additional manager training to foster the development of team cultures that meet our organizational values.

What are you most proud of?

I joined Datasite at a significant point in its evolution. I had the phenomenal opportunity to create from scratch the human resource’s function. This has included revamping the recruiting process as well as creating a corporate culture. This work became even more important during the pandemic, when we needed to take actions to support the safety, physical and mental well-being of our employees. I’m proud to say that not only did my team manage a seamless transition of our entire global workforce to remote work with zero layoffs or furloughs within 45 days of the pandemic’s onset, but we also instituted several programs last year to drive inclusivity and equity efforts within the organization.

For example, guided by our employee values, we established a series of quarterly Datasite diversity and inclusion events that celebrate and recognize key social topics. These included a panel discussion on gender parity and equity in the workplace; a virtual discussion on tolerance, inclusion and belonging, featuring Esera Tuaolo, a former NFL football player and author of Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL; and access to virtual meditation sessions and a contribution to the World Federation for Mental Health to celebrate World Mental Health Day. In December, we plan to recognize International Volunteer Day with employee volunteer opportunities in all our major hub cities.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

To be a successful HR leader today, adaptability is key. While we are all still unsure of the future, the ability to adapt, pivot quickly, and help employees do the same is something individuals should be comfortable doing in any HR or leadership role. At the end of the day, it’s about your company and your employees – they are looking to you to guide them through difficult situations and transitions – so it’s really the ability to think outside of yourself that’s key for those looking to become an HR professional. During these times of being adaptable and pivoting, it is so important to remember to keep your sense of humor. Laughing can help the most during the toughest of times.

Anything else you’d like to add? We can talk about anything you’d like to discuss here.

Technology has been a lifeline for people and businesses throughout the pandemic and continues to be even now as we emerge. In fact, our dealmaking customers have told us that they will be using even more technology going forward to ensure more efficient and effective management of M&A. They won’t be the only ones. After months of working remotely, technology and software company employees are also using more technology and tools to remain productive. The question for HR leaders going forward will be how to ensure these employees continue to receive the support and connectivity they need, whether they are in the office or at home.