Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Dipa Homer on Self-Awareness and Servant Leadership

Dipa Homer is a risk-taker, an important trait her parents passed on to her before she was born. Homer’s parents were born and raised in Bangladesh but decided to move to and start their family in a new place that offered opportunities. They chose Sydney, Australia.

Dipa Homer rheem
Dipa Homer

Both Homer and her brother were born and raised in Sydney. She advanced in college and went on to build her career, and after some time, an opportunity from the United States came along. There were plenty of risks that came with accepting a new role in another country: a new home, new schools, a new country, new people, and a new life.

Much like her parents leaving their homeland, Homer mirrored them by doing the same with her husband and two children. She started her career in the United States, serving at NCR Corporation, and then in 2019, she became VP of HR for Rheem’s water heating division.

“My background was admittedly more tech-focused, and I was apprehensive about making the shift to manufacturing,” Homer shared with HR Daily Advisor. “But what is life without taking a few calculated risks? So, I took the plunge and accepted the offer. The first six months in my role took place pre-pandemic and entailed a lot of traveling to various Rheem facilities.

“After March 2020, there was a shift in the world and a large portion of our staff had to pivot quickly to a remote work model,” she continued. “Keeping employees safe in the workplace became my primary focus. Mid-2021, Rheem’s then-Chief Human Resources Officer moved on and the role became available. I had to benchmark myself against external talent but, ultimately, I was offered the role and today I serve as the EVP for Global HR & Communications.”

In her role, Homer leads the manufacturing company’s global HR department, including benefits, learning and talent development, HR technology, mergers and acquisitions, and total rewards and communications.

In our latest Faces, meet Dipa Homer.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

I would say for me, there is no one major/biggest influence from an industry perspective. I am, however, an avid reader and enjoy leadership books, particularly ones that examine human behavior, our choices, and resulting actions. This type of reflection is deeply helpful to me in first increasing my own self-awareness and then using that knowledge to positively impact those around me.

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

This may sound cliché, but I enjoy being around people. In fact, it gives me energy. The chance to connect with people from all walks of life every day is something I look forward to, and if I can be of service in some way, to me that means I have had an excellent day.

My least favorite part in this industry is that some of the problems we deal with can have a negative impact on others. So, leading with empathy and compassion as my North Stars may result in helping to change the outcome.

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.

Thank you for recognizing my passion for creating a safe and comfortable work environment for my fellow employees. I strongly believe that the people who make up Rheem are our greatest asset, and their well-being is critical to our success. At Rheem, we prioritize and provide a healthy and inclusive work environment to keep all employees safe and comfortable. This includes implementing rigorous safety protocols for everyone, be it workers in our facilities or those in an office setting, while also offering comprehensive health and wellness programs and fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity.

To me, caring about people means leading by example in all that I do. I also recognize that every employee’s needs are unique, and I strive to create a workplace that accommodates those needs. This involves providing flexible work arrangements or offering additional resources to support an employee’s mental health and well-being.

Additionally, we support our larger Rheem family through opportunities to learn and grow. Rheem began opening state-of-the-art Innovation & Learning Centers (ILCs) worldwide. Our ILCs are designed to accelerate training through hands-on and online education modules. We’re spreading the word and making ILC courses widely available to partners such as contractors, distributors, and trade groups. To date, I’m proud to say that Rheem has trained more than 300,000 key industry stakeholders since 2019.

In the same spirit, I ensure my team knows I am actively listening to them, addressing their concerns promptly, providing training, and making improvements where needed.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

To effectively execute larger business goals, the entire culture must be aligned. This is where HR insights and support are required. To make a real impact, employees’ work must support the company’s growth goals. HR is crucial in such cases, as the HR team has the skills and means for creating employee development plans. This means effectively communicating with all employee stakeholders to find out what their career goals are, where they see themselves in the future, and what development support and tools they may need to get there.

Keeping people challenged and satisfied at their jobs is no small feat, and HR can be proactive in this area. Happy employees equal an increase in the company’s top-line performance. Being proactive and improving productivity and efficiency are the only tangible ways impact can be felt by leadership to prove that HR can positively impact the bottom line. Furthermore, when HR teams provide data-driven insights and real people analytics that help drive talent-related decisions, it can clearly demonstrate the value HR functions can deliver. At Rheem, our HR team prioritizes what really matters: the organizational needs and streamlined processes that show deep commitment to the organization’s purpose.

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

HR will be the driving force for many initiatives, including industry trends such as mapping talent to value, making the workforce more flexible, prioritizing strategic workforce planning, performance management, upskilling and reskilling, building an HR platform, and developing an HR tech ecosystem.

In the next 5 years, I see the HR industry heading toward a more tech-driven and data-focused approach. The use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics will become increasingly prevalent in HR operations, including talent acquisition, workforce planning, and performance management. Moreover, the role of HR will continue to evolve, moving beyond traditional functions and becoming a more strategic partner to the business. This shift will require HR professionals to have a broader range of skills, from business acumen to data analytics and digital fluency.

Another trend that I see in the HR industry is the focus on employee well-being and mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of supporting employees’ mental and emotional health, and this will remain of critical importance in the coming years. Overall, the HR industry is constantly evolving. It is essential for HR leaders to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies to ensure that their organizations remain competitive in attracting and retaining top talent.

What are you most proud of?

Over time, I have learned the power of empathy and advocacy and gained a powerful sense of equity and fearlessness that I hope is infectious. These are values I hope to instill and encourage within my team and as part of the larger company culture at Rheem. We recognize and create a highly positive culture because we know that our people are our biggest assets. Sustainability is a large differentiator of who we are in the market. I am extremely satisfied with the environment we have developed where people are proud to work for an eco-friendly-focused company.

A recent example of this at play is our GoodWorks program, which promotes sustainability engagement, alignment, and accountability across our global operations. GoodWorks offers Rheem employees a platform to make a difference both inside the company and in the world at large. We empower our employee volunteers, called GoodWorks Explorers, to ideate on sustainability and ultimately share their ideas with local sustainability leaders, called GoodWorks Ambassadors. The ideas are then amplified and refined as business unit steering committees work toward implementation.

At the end of the day, I am grateful for the outcome of such programs that help our employees develop a sense of purpose and contribute to the larger good of the company and planet. The biggest win is when the company’s employees become the biggest endorsers of the culture.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

I would say, take the risk! There are no rules to embracing risk, except “do not be afraid.” Easier said than done, I know. But don’t be afraid to seek out guidance and mentorship from those you admire. People like to know they’re admired and appreciated. Don’t be afraid to apply for that job. The worst thing that will happen is that you will see your gaps—and that’s a good thing. You might not get the role, but you will have a much better understanding of the work you’ll need to do to close the gaps.

As a woman leader in manufacturing, I would strongly say to other women: Don’t ever ask yourself if your gender is a liability or feel any sense of imposter syndrome. You know you can deliver the results needed to move the company forward, and each experience you had leading up to these moments will prepare you to succeed. Jump in, be your authentic self, and you will exceed your employer’s—and perhaps your own—expectations.

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