5 minutes with…Laila Powers, Atlas Oil HR director

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Michigan-based Atlas Oil was named among America’s 50 most engaged workplaces this month after a huge 25% growth rate in 2013. We spoke to its HR director Laila Powers.

Who inspired you to get into HR? I began my career as manager at a very young age and interacted with employees to help them strive to perfect their performance on the job.  I then transitioned my career into HR when I began working for a large company of about 1200 employees.  Going from a manager to HR was almost natural for me because I like to help people.  I now had the opportunity to help an entire organization, not just my direct reports.  From there my career blossomed.  The more I worked in HR, the more I learned going from recruiting, to benefits, to generalist, then HR manager, and finally to HR director.  I want to make a difference and be there to help employees and leaders through both their challenges and development.  I have had many people who have inspired me along the way, but the ones who made the most impact are the ones who spent the time to teach and understand the job and had a genuine interest in my personal development.  The more I got into HR, the more interested I became.  There is never a dull moment in HR, and there are always new challenges that help keep me continually learning as well. I could not be more happy doing something else.
 
What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done at Atlas Oil? Our HR team here is amazing, so I would never individually take credit personally for being innovative.  Over the last four years, however, Atlas HR has virtually gone from very manual and labor intensive administration processes to almost complete online tools and resources.  Atlas is a company with an aggressive environment, so it’s important to also have resources for our team members to be successful.  We’ve incorporated an Ambassador group, comprised of two senior leaders, and about 10 other team members across the organization, who conduct culture interviews for potential candidates, serve as new hire mentors, and meet regularly to discuss ways to continue a positive and fun culture.  Innovating ideas are really shared and encourage by all and we work as a TEAM to make it possible.
 
Worst faux pas on the job? I am very cautious by nature, so my thoughts are typically pretty well thought out to avoid any errors or embarrassing moments.  I have either not had a bad faux pas or I’ve been traumatized by one that has caused me to erased it from memory.  If I had to go back and have any do overs, it would certainly be the day I had a meeting with the owner of our company right after returning from the dentist with a mouth that was half numb.  That was one meeting I wish I could have done over. That was a bit awkward.
 
Weirdest job candidate encounter? I would have to say in my years of recruiting I could not categorize any of my candidates as weird encounters. No fun stories here!
 
Average number of hours per week? 50-55
 
Number of years in HR? 15 Years
 
How many years ago was your salary half of what it is now? 4 Years
 
What part of your HR budget has increased the most in the past 12 months? Recruiting and training
 

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