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During his Nov. 15 visit to Kellogg, Gary Snodgrass, retired executive vice president of human resources for Exelon, offered his views on how to build strong teams.

Diverse teams key for leading managerial change, says Exelon HR executive

By Aubrey Henretty

11/20/2007 -

The key to human resources management, said Gary Snodgrass, is simple: “Hire slow. Fire fast.”

Snodgrass, author of the book, Stepping Up: 12 Ways to Rev Up, Revitalize, or Renew Your Career, said dismissal of employees who don’t meet company expectations need not be a long, tortured exercise. “If the company has done a good job screening people as they come in and as they change positions within the organization, it should be an easy call.”

Prior to his recent retirement, Snodgrass was executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Chicago-based energy giant Exelon Corp. A guest of the Kellogg School’s Business Leadership Club, Snodgrass spoke at the Donald P. Jacobs Center on Nov. 15.

In addition to the usual hiring concerns, including whether a prospective hire has the right skills, experience and personality to thrive in the company, Snodgrass said successful managers will pay special attention to building diverse senior leadership teams. “To me, it’s the No. 1 issue in corporate America. It’s having the right men and women at the top,” said Snodgrass. “Companies that get diversity right over the next five to 10 years are companies that will win.”

Snodgrass said those companies are also going to have to work harder than ever to attract and retain a diverse workforce.

“Organizations today are scrambling for talent,” he said, adding that even huge, older companies are starting to realize that today’s top talent is looking for more than a competitive salary. Members of the current generation of MBAs want to change the world, he said, and they don’t want to spend 90 hours a week at the office.

“This would be a great time to go into corporate America in many ways,” said Snodgrass. “Opportunities abound — and will continue to abound in the next couple of decades — for people who keep their skill sets fresh.”

Snodgrass advised students to approach their forthcoming job searches with all the rigor of an HR officer hunting for new hires.

“Hire that company slowly,” he said. “Kick its tires. See what it’s really made of.”