Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Marci Haabestad on Creating Strong HR Functions, Staying Curious & the Skills Revolution

For our latest Faces of HR profile, we connected with Marci Haabestad, Interim CHRO of HireVue – a talent experience platform designed to automate workflows and make scaling hiring easy – to discuss how she got her start in the industry, her biggest influences, best mistake,  as well as the value of workplace flexibility.

Marci Haabestad

“While I wish it hadn’t taken a global pandemic to make it a reality, I am encouraged to see how many companies, large and small, are recognizing the importance of workplace flexibility,” Haabestad shared with HR Daily Advisor. “There is tremendous value to team members in having the option to work from home, whether permanently or in a hybrid arrangement. The opportunities this affords for people to better craft work/life balance, and for companies to attract and hire the best talent from around the globe can’t be understated, and I’m eager to see how HR leaders continue to evolve in their support of remote teams.”

In our latest Faces of HR, meet Marci Haabestad.

How did you get your start in the field?

While I was in college, I co-founded a software company. I was the “non-technical staff,” meaning I was responsible for all aspects of running the business other than coding the software, which included handling all the HR-related issues. That was my first exposure to Human Resources, and I really enjoyed helping people make a difference for the business, and helping the business make a difference for people. Years later, I got certified and started working exclusively in HR. It was the right transition for me, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

Every team I’ve been a part of since my first job has influenced me professionally. I believe in learning from everyone I cross paths withs, adopting best practices along the way. My professional network is a cherished resource that I cultivate and the people in it have been a tremendous influence.

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

Early in my career I assumed that HR “best practices” should apply to each team and each leader equally. It didn’t take long for me to realize that while “best practice” is an important guide, a strong and effective HR leader learns how to determine what works best for a given individual and situation.

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

My favorite part about working in HR is helping an organization meet its goals while simultaneously helping individual people achieve their potential. I worked as a career coach for a few years, and working one-on-one with people was great, but being able to help teams and the broader organization achieve their objectives is even better.

My least favorite part is keeping up to date on the ever-changing landscape of state compliance. For example, it’s a constant battle to stay current on state leave requirements. A stronger national policy would be a welcome change on many key employment regulations.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them succeed. Please elaborate here.

My passion is helping people and teams reach their full potential at work. I was a career coach for several years and I specialized in helping professionals and business leaders identify and achieve their goals. While I relished the opportunity to make a difference one-on-one with my clients, it’s even better when I can help people and teams achieve goals that elevate an entire company.

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

People are a company’s greatest asset and often their largest expense. It only makes sense for leadership to prioritize retention and the “people experience”. While there will always be a transactional aspect to HR, the true value is unlocked when the people strategy is seen as being as important as the sales strategy.

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

I think we’re at the beginning of the skills revolution. Employers who prioritize skills, not resumes are poised for success in an increasingly competitive global economy. The companies who successfully screen for skills will also make investments that cultivate growth in-house. This will come in many forms, but a few include retraining and certification programs, providing professional development allowances, or implementing learning and development tools.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of creating strong HR functions and developing amazing HR professionals throughout my career. I have built HR teams from one or two people and expanded them to teams of 40-plus. By building out teams, I’ve had the privilege of meeting remarkable HR professionals along the way, many have gone on to build teams of their own. It’s very rewarding to see people I loved working with flourish.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

The most valuable HR professionals I’ve known not only know the HR discipline, but also take the time to learn the business they support. I would encourage people entering the profession to be curious, partner with people outside the HR department, and learn as much as you can about what the business does and its priorities. Once you know the priorities of the business, always try to connect those goals to outcomes in HR. And simply, stay curious and keep learning.