Suzanne Rumsey is a Solution Principal in the Organization Effectiveness practice at Slalom Consulting in the San Fracisco Bay Area, helping organizations be more strategic and effective in leveraging their talent to achieve whatever business objectives they have. She knows all manner of HR and other functional structures, processes and systems, organization and leadership development, and, change management. Thanks to many years as an internal HR pro Boeing and Health Net, she’s got a pretty good perspective on the talent and organization effectiveness thing… which means she really knows what she’s talking about and has the actual experiences under her belt to back it up and give you advice. Now that’s the kind of consultant we really like.
1. The elevator just closed and you’ve got 30 seconds to pitch the random reader on who you are and why they should read your rants. Go..
HR, when practiced from a pragmatic, holistic point of view can truly impact, dare I say, transform an organization. Fistful of Talent is about that kind of HR – hard-hitting, straightforward, practical, and intelligent (all at the same time)! My mission is to get people to think about HR as transformative not administrative, as pragmatic, not simplistic, and as a heck of a lot of fun, not a pain in the backside. Besides, my rants are both enlightening (about deep stuff) and also self-deprecating (while I take my work seriously, I don’t take myself too seriously. Helps to have a sense of humor about the deep stuff).
2. Now for the mundane – break down your location, title, company/firm and what you do for a living.
I live in San Mateo, CA, and I work for Slalom Consulting, a truly awesome management consultancy that not only works to make its client organizations more successful, but truly walks its own talk with regard to talent and employee engagement. My areas of expertise are talent management and organization development, and I’ve been known to dabble in change management, leadership development, social / enterprise collaboration, organization design, etc. And I’ve worked in or with companies in health care, aerospace, retail (food, clothes, big box), financial services, energy, engineering, real estate, entertainment, and high tech industries to boot. Lots of great experiences and insights that inform my approach to talent management, change, and organization development, and also provide lots of great stories at cocktail parties!.
3. One more question that everyone expects. What’s the reason you’re in this game? (why do you do what you do?)
Finding ways to engage, motivate and enable people to bring their best to the game every day is probably one of the most challenging endeavors I’ve ever tried. I love challenges. And to be completely honest (and mushy) I get a HUGE amount of emotional satisfaction of helping others stand taller, play bigger, and generally just excel at what they do. I don’t mind being the back-up singer / coach / trainer-type. Helping others be truly successful at what they do gets my game on. And I needed to do SOMETHING that combined majors in international relations, economics, Russian, organizational communications and technology. OD and talent management – the perfect catch all for these things (even the Russian part… talent effectiveness in Russia is a HUGE growth industry, especially with security as part of the talent accountability).
4. If you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you know batters from the home team get to pick their own theme music as they walk from the dugout to the plate. If we ever have a FOT convention, what theme music will you come out to to pump the crowd up and why?
I am a Def Leppard fan born and bred (even though my parents have no idea who they are). My current song obsession is “It’s All About Believin’”, because to do anything worthwhile, you gotta believe!
5. Let’s stick with the baseball theme. If you’ve ever been to a pro game, you also know that the visitor doesn’t get to pick their own music. The home team picks that for them, and it’s usually less than stellar as a means of attempting to crush them. If you could pick theme music for your arch-rival to walk into a conference room to, what would it be and why?
Your Mama Don’t Dance (and Your Daddy Don’t Rock n Roll) by Poison because my opponents should know that if they can’t bust a move, they don’t have a chance. And I want to survive everything Bret Michaels has survived and STILL sing this song in concert like he does.
6. Finish the following sentence – “When I’m interviewing, I can tell within one minute that this thing isn’t going to work out because _________…”
As interviewer, I know it isn’t going to work out when either 1) the candidate repeats him or herself over and over again and/ or 2) the candidate has no questions for me, and / or 3) the candidate talks only in theoretical, not pragmatic, terms. Or I fall asleep.
As interviewee, I know it isn’t going to work out when the hiring manager 1) doesn’t show me his or her personality and / or 2) the hiring manager isn’t clear about what s/he is looking for in the hire and / or 3) the hiring manager talks only in theoretical, not pragmatic, terms. Or I run from the office building screaming.
7. Name the actor/actress that will portray you in the movie about you. Why the heck is that a fit?
Charlize Theron (never mind that I’m not nearly as tall or as gorgeous). She has great range, and she drove a Mini Cooper (my car!!) through the streets (and subway tunnels) of LA like no one’s business in the remake of The Italian Job. Oh, and like me, she has chubby cheeks when she smiles.
8. List three of your favorite books to pander to the educated segment of our readership…
- Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. If I didn’t do what I do, I would want this job. Who wouldn’t want to have the power to help a soul get to its next incarnation, not to mention take down the forces of darkness in the sewers under the streets of San Francisco?
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I sob when I read the book. I mean BUCKETS! And I still think Gregory Peck is the most perfect incarnation of a book character EVER. This character is, to me, the epitome of empathy, a trait that I value tremendously in leaders, professionals, and close friends.
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Okay, I admit it. I have a closet fascination with Dracula and all legends, stories, etc., pertaining to him. I thought the fascination was with vampires in general, but the Twilight series showed me this is not so. This Vlad Tepes story is absolutely fascinating because it highlights the historical events from which the legends are derived, and it paints Vlad as a brilliant student of history (thus the title). Brilliant people (even legendary people) fascinate me.
9. List three of your favorite movies to connect with the segment of our readership that doesn’t like to read…
- The Illusionist. Just goes to show that people will see what they want to see, not what is really there.
- It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World. Reminds me of some of my work days.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The cinematography alone is truly awesome. And I love that the story is deeper than just a good versus evil fable, but investigates the good and evil in everyone. Peter Jackson did a tremendous job bringing the books to live in the films.
10. Let’s reach out to what remains of our readership. Who’s your favorite Old-School Rapper and why?
Bone Thugs n Harmony – Tha Crossroad because 1) there was a musicality to the rap, and 2) they were from Cleveland! And not part of the East Coast – West Coast rap rivalry hullabaloo. And I love the names of the band members – they crack me up.
10.5. My first car was a… and here’s how it defined who I am….
Subaru 4-wheel drive station wagon… It was nimble, could load up the Duke crew team’s stuff for a race, and was reliable as all get out. I still kinda miss it, but it was a stick shift, and I couldn’t bear to drive a stick shift when I first moved to Cali. I’ve matured since then, and I’m back to driving a stick shift. Mini. Of course. I just want to opportunity to drive in subway tunnels. Did I mention that I thought Charlize Theron was fab in The Italian Job?