Carat Convos: Diane Harrison, SVP, Human Resources, Carat US

“The recipe for success is ownership.”

How did you start your career in media?
I grew in a very small town in Upstate New York. The town was so small that we had to drive for miles just to see a stoplight. So, I did not know that media was an industry that I could even be a part of, but I always knew I wanted to help people. During my undergrad for speech pathology, I worked in nonprofits in underserved communities to help build policies and programs around health. I really enjoyed helping people and designing programs to make people’s lives better.

I started my career in Human Resources, when my friend told me about media. I took a step back in my HR career and started as an entry level HR person for an advertising company on Madison Av, and I really thought I made it. In the last 15+ years in the industry, I’ve learned that it’s not only good to be important, but it’s more important to be good and treat people with respect and kindness.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
The biggest impact would actually be from some of the horrible bosses I had early in my career. I knew that I wanted to be the complete opposite of them, grow and develop my team and treat people with respect. I learned how to be a better HR professional and manager, treating people with respect, autonomy, and helping them focus on their mastery of craft and purpose in what they do.

How do you spend your free time?
I have two children, a nine and an eight-year-old, they’re 18 months apart. On the weekends we’re carpooling everywhere to lacrosse and soccer games. So, that’s basically my life. I try and go to the gym a couple of days a week if I can wake up early enough. Right now, I’m watching The Ozarks on Netflix and I’m currently reading a book called Spark, which is about looking for leaders at every level within the organization. I like to flip flop between study books and light books. Right now, I’m on my study book.

What would you say your superpower is?
A superpower, to me, is something that even surprises yourself. So, my superpower would be, I actually have a green thumb and I have no idea how. I received orchids months ago, and it amazes me that they are still alive, I had to check to see if they we’re actually real, they are.

As the lead of human resources, what do you think is the real recipe to success for employees?
The recipe for success is ownership. Employees need to take responsibility and ownership for their career. Ask the questions of their manager. I hate to hear “I’m afraid to go talk to my manager.” So really be active and involved with your career, talk to your manager. If you’re looking for a way to do that, if you haven’t had those types of conversations in the past, end of year performance reviews is a great platform to have those conversations with your manager. Ask “How am I doing?” “What can I do better?” “What do you know that I don’t know about myself, so I can learn from that?”

I feel that you need to diversify the circle that you’re in, so raise your hand for opportunities to work with different teams. Or, join a Business Resource Group and get outside of your circle to continue to grow and learn. My favorite quote is, “What got me here today will not get me there tomorrow.” So, just like you work out every day to take care of your health you need to put more focus and energy into owning your own career. There’s lots of learning and development opportunities, so keep asking for them.

Since you recently have joined Carat and bring in fresh perspective, what can we expect at Carat in the next 12 months?
I just started a few months ago and working with the Executive Leadership Team to define our 2019 talent strategy around our business goals. Still more to come, but what I’m looking at is to foster an inclusive and respectful environment where employees can get the resources and support to grow their careers at Carat. I’m just getting started.

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