Insights on HR, Talent Management, and Career Development

HR Alliance Communications Committee Member, Cari Bohley, VP of Talent Management, Peraton, shares a little about herself as well as her insights on HR, Talent Management and Career Development.
My name is Cari Bohley, and I'm the Vice President of Talent Management at Peraton. I joined HR Alliance a little over a year ago because I wanted to get better connected with some of the other HR professionals in the local area in the DC area. And I've really enjoyed it so far. It's really given me an opportunity to network, but it's also given me an opportunity to become part of HR Alliance as a member of the communications committee, which is great because now my voice can be heard, so to speak, through the programming that we do.

How has HR Alliance helped you professionally?
I would say one other reason that I really didn't expect to get out of HR Alliance that I've gotten is really learning about different parts of HR that I'm not typically involved in. There was recently a presentation on employment law, and it was fascinating to learn about different facets of what's happening with employment law. It's just not something I deal with every day. So, it's just a great educational opportunity.

Please describe what your role is like
So, as the Vice President of Talent Management, my portfolio includes things like leadership development, employee development, career development, compliance training, and performance management, and did I say leadership development? So, it's really a lot of the employee-focused programs, the programs that really help our employees grow on a day-to-day basis. But I would say probably the one thing that I'm most focused on right now is on employee engagement and experience, because it's a key part of our retention strategy. We have an employee experience listening program where we survey our employees and we're really focused on taking action based on what we heard during that survey. And so now the programs that I'm executing this year are really a result of what we heard, what our employees expressed are the things that are most interesting and top of mind for them. And so now by the end of this year, we will have implemented initiatives to address those identified needs.

What challenges are leaders facing right now?
When I talk to some of my peers at different organizations, we're all hearing the same types of things. Career development and re-skilling is absolutely, I would say, the number one priority for a lot of organizations right now, or the technology is changing so quickly, and the work that we do that leverages technology requires us to be able to move just as quickly to help our employees adapt to new technologies, new skills, new environments. So, I would say that's probably the first thing. The second thing is just we as an HR organization have to become more comfortable with technology. Things that we felt like maybe scientists were using a couple of years ago, like artificial intelligence and machine learning are now bro, have now broken into the HR space. And we have to take advantage of those technologies in order to keep up or surpass our competition. So being more comfortable with the technology, learning about the tools that'll assist us in understanding our data, and being able to make decisions based on that data, I think is a huge area for HR professionals.

What is an example of how AI is showing up in the work you do?
So, when we're looking at systems for talent attraction, for example, we can put out a post and we can sit there, a job posting, and we can sit there and wait for people to apply to it, or I should say. And we can also look at where are candidates who may not actively be looking for a job, how do we find those candidates? How do we look in at public sources of information and find out who may be a thought leader, who may be publishing information, and then maybe using that in terms of who we want to talk to a little bit more. We also use it a lot in the learning space where, how do we help people, help our employees develop a career path? What if they want to pivot from the work that they do right now into something else? And is there a way that we can help them better identify their skills so that we can match somebody more closely with a future career path? And as we use these tools, the machine learning kicks in and it gets smarter about our business and what it is we're trying to do. But those are probably two of the areas where I've seen a lot of growth, huge growth in terms of the technologies, meaning the platforms that are out there. Just over the last year, it seems like it's just exploded with new technology partners. So those are just two areas. I mean, there's a ton more, but that, that's probably where a lot of people can really identify how these things fit in.

What insights would you offer people considering a career pivot?
I mean, the first thing that I always tell people when this question comes up is to really do some self-reflection. HR can't solve all of your problems, but we are here as a resource. But trying to do some self-reflection on what's really important to you in terms of what you want to get out of a career is the first place to start. Because I mean, we can throw all kinds of opportunities at, but if you don't know what's important to you, then it's going to be hard for you to decide which path to take. So that would be the first thing I would say. And then once you have an idea of what it is, you know, want that pivot to be, then you can reach out to your HR business partner or your manager. Your manager also has a key role in career development.

And talk to them about how do I get from where I am to where this pivot is? And it's probably a combination of the two plus some of your own research. We can't lay all of this at the feet of the HR professionals and our managers as an individual. It's really incumbent upon ourselves to do some of that work too. So do some research on what's available in the company. If you never check your company email or you never check your company's website or internal websites, then now is the time to do it so that you can become aware of what's out there. And I think once you've done some of that, then it becomes a lot easier to chart a course. But there's absolutely some work that has to be done upfront, and you as an individual have to really take on that ownership of your career.

What is something you are excited about or looking forward to this year?
I mean, I think the thing that really attracted me to HR because, and I'll just caveat for a second. I mean, my educational background is not in HR or business. It is in a liberal arts background. So I had never planned to go into HR, but when a career pivot put me in an HR role, what I really discovered that I loved about HR was the ability, the ability to impact the professionals in the organization, the programs that we put together, even though I may not meet people, meet everybody who goes through our programs, but the ability to have an impact on somebody's career trajectory, to have an impact on their decision to stay with the organization. I mean, those are things that really give me satisfaction and excitement about the job that I do. So, for somebody new coming into the profession, what I would tell them is to be a sponge.

What recommendations do you have for people as they plan their careers?
Soak up as much as you can. If you want to have the ability to really impact people and to make a difference for those individuals and the company, it's a great place to be. But there's so much to learn. You can go down the technology route by doing HR analytics. You can go down things like the compensation path where you're also doing a lot of analytical type of work. And then on the peoples, the true people side, HR business partners and people in MySpace and learning and development and leadership development, talent management, HR, business partners. I mean, you just have so much opportunity, and it, it's enough variety that, and diversity in the types of work that all of us do that it attracts people from a lot of different backgrounds. So, there's absolutely a lot of opportunity, a lot of room for growth in hr.

What is exciting about working at Peraton?
The thing that I really like about working for Peraton is that I mentioned earlier that we had done an engagement survey, and what really impressed me is our organization's commitment to following through on what we heard. And that just is a great feeling to be able to say, okay, folks, employees at Peraton, what you told us, and here's what you told us by a large percentage, and now here's what we're doing to address it. And then, we're going to continue to ask you how we're doing and solicit your feedback so that we can make any adjustments that we need to make. So, it's really been an exciting time to be with an organization that's putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak. We're following through, and that, to me, it's just a great sense of accomplishment.

Watch the interview here on YouTube Channel.

Connect with Cari Bohley on LinkedIn here.


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