Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Mona Dine on the Power of a Purposeful Approach to HR

Mona Dine, PCC, SPHR, SCP, ODCP, is an accomplished Human Resources (HR) leader with more than 20 years of experience. She got her start in operations leadership at National Bankcard Corporation and then segued into HR. From there, her career evolved as she took on increasingly complex and broader roles – including senior level HR roles at Kennametal, HarbisonWalker International, and PNC.

Mona Dine

Today, Dine leads Talent Management and Corporate Human Resources at U. S. Steel Corporation, a leading steel producer. As a talent management leader across a myriad of industries, Dine’s expertise is utilized to develop impactful leaders, create engaging environments, and promote talent practices that drive performance and business results.

Founded in 1901, U.S. Steel continues to adapt its organization to not only better serve its 24,500 employees, communities, and customers but also to create a diverse and inclusive workplace and retain top talent. In 2022, U.S. Steel released its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report. According to Dine, it’s a big step for a legacy company to communicate its values both internally and externally.

“I’m proud of the culture of accountability we’ve instilled at U. S. Steel, and we’ve made great progress toward meeting our goals,” she recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “I would encourage all organizations to do the same as it’s not an external, marketing play – it really does encourage your internal teams to be more mindful and aware of creating an equitable workplace.”

In our latest Faces of HR, meet Mona Dine.  

How did you get your start in the field?

It started in college where I got my degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. I’ve always had an interest in leveraging people’s strengths but wasn’t quite sure how to translate that degree into a career. My first job was in an operations management development program for a financial services company, and it allowed me to rotate around different business units and truly get a sense of each aspect of the business. I kept gravitating toward people issues and with that, an opportunity came up in HR and I was able to secure a position in that department. That first job really fueled my interest and passion for human resources, and I’ve worked in this space for many years.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

For me, it was really my first talent management leader who taught me how to connect HR’s value to the larger business objectives. She showed me how to connect our talent strategy with the rest of the business and how to be very purposeful in how you help executives understand and operationalize talent practices into their decisions. Having that type of individual early on was very impactful.

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

A mistake I made early in my career was taking a job opportunity in HR based solely on the mission of the organization, while not fully understanding the operations of the organization. I learned there are many factors that contribute to an organization’s success. The importance of taking a holistic approach to implementing a successful HR strategy and fostering a healthy employee culture cannot be underestimated.

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 is that I get to have a direct impact on people’s lives and truly help them grow and realize their full potential. I enjoy creating programs and policies that ensure the talent and culture we have at U. S. Steel is being fully maximized and harnessed by the organization. I enjoy fully leveraging the fantastic talent we have at the company and building a culture that enables our goals.

My least favorite part of working in the industry overall is occasionally battling the stereotype that HR is a tactical department. I work to show HR’s impact on the overall business strategy and having robust metrics and scorecards that show real progress. 

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.

Absolutely! Making our employees feel valued and engaged is a top priority. Here at U. S. Steel, we’re building a culture of inclusion where people can bring their authentic selves to work. We’ve built a space for people to be innovative, share ideas, thoughts and continually work to improve and build their professional skillsets. Since we are a manufacturing company, safety is of critical importance to our organization. We’ve created a 360 Safety initiative that’s not just about physical safety but also psychological safety. We want our people to know they are valued and to be able to express themselves.

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

Company leaders should work together with their HR departments to link the initiatives around people and culture back to the larger business to show the value that these strategies are creating. We know that the people side of the business is very critical. As the efforts to improve culture become more purposeful and intentional, these strategies must be aligned with the objectives of the business. Done successfully, it allows businesses to measure the impact of HR and continuously improve the experience of their employees. Without engaged employees, businesses cannot fully thrive.

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

I see the industry continuing to become even more employee centric. Employers will be much more attuned to the needs of their workers and will have to become more flexible in meeting those needs as proactively as possible. I think employers will spend more time thinking about the value proposition of their organizations and will start to treat their employees almost like consumers. Technology will continue to stay at the forefront of our work. Predictive analytics will be very crucial over the next several years, as will AI, if it’s used correctly.

Lastly, the traditional concept of full-time vs. freelance work will continue to evolve. Many organizations are already leveraging consultants and part-time workers. The shift to thinking about skill sets needed per initiative and utilizing a flexible workforce will continue to become more prominent. I think talent leaders will further think of themselves as talent brokers as well.

What are you most proud of?

At U. S. Steel, I believe we’ve done a great job rallying the whole organization behind a purposeful approach to everything from diversity and inclusion to safety practices. There’s an old saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast, but I think we’ve disproved that statement by tying our culture and HR work directly to business outcomes. It’s taken a full team effort and I’m proud of the whole organization for buying-in and living it daily.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

First, be flexible and take on assignments that you would never think about otherwise. Secondly, learn the whole business. As an HR professional, we all need to find ways to be a net value-add for the company. The more you can connect your talent management skills across the business the better off you, and the organization will be.