Faces of HR

How Amy Mosher Moves the Needle Forward as an Employee Advocate

Amy Mosher has been involved in the field of global human resources for more than two decades. For our latest Faces of HR profile, we sat down with Amy to discuss how she got her start in the industry, her biggest influence, as well as her thoughts on trends and best practices for the HR industry, including how company leaders can make HR a value within their organization. According to Mosher, investing in people analytics is one of many ways to get started.

Amy Mosher

“Thankfully, many organizations are realizing that HR is not a cost center but rather a revenue center and a strategic arm of the business,” Mosher recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “One way company leaders can make HR a value is to invest in people analytics – of which 49 percent of HR departments haven’t according to my company’s survey of over 500 HR leaders. Being able to understand the current workforce, predict what’s next, and identify trends can help HR speak the same language as some of its revenue-producing counterparts. For example, being able to predict staff needs, and more.”

Over the course of her career, Mosher has contributed to the success of multiple public and private companies across various industries, including software, biotechnology, and hardware. For the last decade she has served as the Head of Human Resources with Accel-KKR SaaS software portfolio companies, including HighWire Press, Inc., and KANA Software, Inc. Currently, she serves as Chief People Officer at isolved, which provides HR software and services for companies to help boost performance, increase productivity, and accelerate results while reducing risk.

In our latest Faces of HR profile, meet Amy Mosher.

How did you get your start in the field?

Remember Mervyn’s? It was a popular retail chain in the 1990’s and where my HR career really began. I started in the stores as a Team Relations Coordinator and was quickly recognized by leadership for my enthusiasm and relatability. It only took a year before I was accountable for a store and ultimately the “hiring” and “firing” parts of HR at a high volume. But I also gained a significant amount of understanding of the impact good HR practices can have on the bottom line. In retail, you can almost measure it daily. From there, I went into retail management, with over 40 direct reports and responsibility for front of the house sales for the largest single location florist in the western United States. From there, I went into corporate HR, and was accountable for Talent Acquisition at a pre-IPO anti-cancer therapeutics company. Working in recruiting in the San Francisco Bay area during the dot.com was an incredibly humbling and educational experience. I worked for a strong female minority CHRO there, who was highly influential in shaping my HR generalist knowledge, providing me with a solid foundation. Like many HR leaders, I didn’t expect to go into HR, but it’s been a tremendously rewarding career and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

My biggest influence in the industry was my CHRO who ultimately became the COO of the biotechnology company I worked for during the dot.com. She looked like me and her last Hispanic name had silent syllables just like mine. She was strong willed, had presence, and wasn’t afraid to have a direct conversation. She was the first female executive I had ever worked with or for and I could immediately see that she was a force that demanded respect for both herself and the HR function. She encouraged me to get as much knowledge as I could to become a true generalist and gave me unlimited exposure into different faucets of HR along the way. Although her strong demeanor wasn’t always something I wanted to emulate, understanding, and observing behaviors that I knew weren’t going to be part of my approach as an HR leader were just as important as those I aligned with and knew I would adopt.

What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

Like many female professionals, when my second son was born, I didn’t want to commute with my small kids for over an hour each way to and from the office anymore. So, I knew I had to find something closer to home. I took a role as an HR Manager supporting the northwestern U.S. regional sales team for the largest private employer in mainland China. This may sound glamourous, but it was not. The culture wasn’t geared toward its people and was instead highly transactional. And when the people in a business are not valued, HR isn’t prioritized. I felt like all my valuable HR knowledge wasn’t being used and although I achieved some hard-won victories in influencing a more people-first culture there during my tenure, I wasn’t able to truly crack my own motivational crisis. This was my biggest mistake: choosing a role based on logistics instead of cultural fit. I still coach this today. You cannot underestimate how important the employee experience is in retaining and motivating yourself and top talent.

Example #2: Every seasoned HR professional has that one employee relations issue that went horribly wrong. Mine was a termination that ended up in litigation, the details of which I cannot divulge – nor would I. But it taught me that the best of intentions when poorly documented amount to nothing in your defense. Even though my “biggest mistake” happened over a decade ago, I still reflect on it all the time. And I think it’s made me a substantially better manager, HR professional, co-worker, and person.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

I love people, period. And there is no better way to help people than to be an employee advocate. I was put on this earth to help others achieve their dreams and that’s what I try to do every day. I also love the variety of challenges that HR professionals are accountable for finding solutions to. Often if no one else knows who to turn to for an answer to a question or a problem, they turn to HR. Our ability to think on our feet and apply best practice to things we’ve never seen before impacts every employee within the organization every day, and that is unique to this industry.

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. Please elaborate here.

I am a deeply empathetic person, which doesn’t always mean being a shoulder to cry on. Empathy can also mean that you are clear with your expectations and work with a person to grow into a professional they didn’t even believe they could be. I pride myself in fairness across all areas of leadership, from the equal opportunities every person has to the clearly stated expectations we have for a role or project.

How can company leaders make HR a value within their organization?

Another way to prove HR as a value within the organization is to invest in employee wellbeing. There is a direct correlation between employees’ wellbeing and their motivation and productivity at work. In the past, however, this hasn’t translated to how leaders view HR as a strategic business partner. That must change. In fact, 49 percent of organizations have been negatively impacted by the “Great Resignation” per the same survey. With mass resignations, talent shortages and people generally reassessing where they want to work and how, the wider organization must tap into HR’s valuable experience on how to get employees productive fast, how to develop their careers and how to pay them market value. Not all companies will be able to compete on budget alone and must get creative with wellbeing offerings whether it’s flexibility in benefits, an employee marketplace or another program to consider an employee’s financial, spiritual, mental, physical and career wellbeing. In fact, “flexible working arrangements” is the top way our HR peers are addressing mental health at their company according to the same survey.

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

Where the industry is heading is here. We as HR professionals need to be more agile, digital first and data driven in the programs, policies, and people decisions we make. Compliance will be ever-changing and needs to be a core pillar of HR but thinking through how a candidate, employee, and even former employee experiences your company is what will future-proof your business. The expectations our employees have aren’t set at work. They are set out in the community and by the consumer experiences they have. Still, the top reason HR is not digitally mature is because it’s not a priority in their organization according to our survey of over 500 HR leaders. HR must have a seat at the table for an employee’s full digital experience to ensure there is no friction in how they are able to do their job. What that digital experience will include in the future are channels we already know – conversational assistants for example – and some we’ve not yet even seen.

What are you most proud of?

My diverse, motivated, and enthusiastic team, their personal growth, and their impact on the overall growth of the business. HR’s consistent and measured impact on our organization’s ability to gainfully employ great people and allow them to grow their careers and seeing how that improves the bottom line, creating more opportunities for us all. It’s pretty motivating.  

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Do more. It sounds simple but taking the time to proofread your email, having a professional greeting and closing, being clear and concise and thinking a few steps ahead, can make a big difference for someone just entering HR. Additionally, if there are any brand guidelines from marketing on which font to use, which colors or how to write about your company’s offerings, use them. Not only will your communication look the part, but you’ll be showing dedication and promise. Additionally, lean on your peers for help. Make networking part of your day to day as your career will change and relationships will make all the differences not only for your career options but also for advice on your programs. In fact, our survey shows that “peers” is where HR leaders get most of their HR advice, news, and recommendations – so build those relationships and maintain them too.

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

HR can be an emotionally taxing and isolating role. When you are the epitome of fairness, it can be difficult to form motivating and lasting peer relationships. That is why it’s incredibly important that the HR community understands the value of their network. In addition to keeping you sane, building a solid peer network can assist you in providing more effective and efficient solutions for your HR-related business challenges, establish trends, and avoid pitfalls they may have already experienced. Think of it as your own personal HR think tank and motivational structure.