Genevieve Roberts is a Managing Director in Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice. Genevieve has over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Leadership and Organizational Development consulting. She has specialized experience in executive coaching, leadership development, organizational structure, employee engagement, competency development, succession planning, and leadership design.

How has your journey been as an industry leader? What are your current roles and responsibilities at Gallagher?

I was trying to get an internship during my senior year at Wellesley College, where I was doing my undergraduate work in psychobiology, so I applied for various internships and eventually ended up in an HR role in a hotel in Boston. In that role, I gained valuable HR experience. Following my internship, I was hired as an HR representative by a semiconductor company in New York, where I stayed for four years. This job made me realize the impact of human resources in manufacturing and what it means to be an employee advocate. And, since I lacked a business degree, I made the decision to apply for Georgetown University’s MBA program. While pursuing my MBA, I had the chance to intern at IBM, which allowed me to learn more about marketing and communications and inspire an interest in that field. Although I was eager to work in the marketing field, I learned about another opportunity when an alumnus from my business school told me about a position at Pepsi in the HR division. I realized that I enjoy the human aspects of the business the most and, ultimately, decided to take the position and focus on HR instead of marketing. I spent six years working for Pepsi in their Pizza Hut division before switching to Capital One in a strategic business partner role. A few years later, they transferred me to Richmond, Virginia, where I currently reside. As I had to work in various HR departments like compensation, training, leadership development, and recruitment, I gained a lot of knowledge in HR management.

“Every single day, every organization is experiencing change. What leaders can do is figure out how to intentionally approach that change in a way that’s going to make it the most productive for everybody involved.”

My career at Capital One took me on the road most of the time, and I was also expecting the birth of my daughter. After I left Capital One, I took a six-month leave from work and planned my next move. With a business partner, I launched my HR consulting firm. Our company had been serving small and mid-sized businesses in the mid-Atlantic region for 14 years when Gallagher approached us and offered an attractive acquisition. I have enjoyed working with Gallagher in a variety of consulting roles for the past eight years.

At Gallagher, I help clients resolve issues with their teamwork and leadership. My role is that of leadership and organizational development. Executive coaching and organizational intervention design are a few of my activities at work.

What challenges do organizations seeking assistance from service providers face regarding change management, and what are some of the current industry trends?

In my opinion, change cannot be managed because it is unavoidable and constant. Leaders, however, can guide people through the change. If leaders approach change deliberately and productively, the organization will benefit more from it. Clear communication and intentional planning are required to embrace an organization’s change because every change has an emotional component that extends beyond being purely physical. It is necessary for leaders to develop a suitable plan and provide people with adequate time to adapt to the change for it to be effective.

What are the relevant services that could help your clients to alleviate the challenges regarding change management? How have you been a part of the consulting and guiding process to help your clients deal with these challenges?

The majority of my experience in managing organizational change has been related to a culture change. For example, for a client I’ve been working with, meeting with the CEO was the first step in the process. The CEO had to decide whether the right people were in the right positions. As a result, we conducted a leadership talent assessment based on a series of leadership competencies. We also facilitated Patrick Lencioni’s, ‘The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team’ with both executive and management teams. Everyone recognized the importance of their team’s values and goals and the necessity of cultivating a trusting environment. In addition to these actions, we undertook an organizational redesign. We concluded that the client needed to create more strategic leading roles and significantly change their current leadership roles. This redesign aimed to better match people with their interests and skills and that resulted in an overall increase in retention and productivity. Some employees took on more responsibility; others completely changed how they approached their existing job positions, while others elected to move on to other roles. These actions positively impacted the organization’s productivity and helped to re-energize it. I continue to collaborate with the organization’s executive and management team because culture change is a lengthy process that takes time to complete.

How do you see the coaching approaches changing in the years to come?

The pandemic has recently made way for virtual coaching, but virtual coaching will never be the same experience as in-person coaching. Organizations have also developed hybrid coaching systems incorporating both virtual and in-person. However, a major adjustment has been made in how organizations approach coaching. Earlier, coaching was thought to be the last resort for employees with lower competency levels. However, organizations now recognize the importance of facilitating coaching for all employees. As a result of the employees realizing that the company is willing to invest in them, employee motivation increases, and so does efficiency.

Do you have any advice for our readers or anything that you would like to share with the peers, or any individual who are looking to venture into the same field as yours?

Taking the time to identify your areas of passion is the advice I would give. It is easier to work if you are passionate about what you do. Decide what makes you happy before choosing a career based solely on the pay.