By Jennifer Erb
2017-05-152017-05-15https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Brian M. Williams
IMSE Undergrad Class of 2008
Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
What does the company do? Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company serving more than 17 million customers a week in the United States, Canada and Mexico. With fiscal year 2016 sales of $65.0 billion, Lowe’s and its related businesses operate or service more than 2,375 home improvement and hardware stores and employ over 290,000 employees. Founded in 1946 and based in Mooresville, N.C., Lowe’s supports the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. For more information, visit Lowes.com.
Current role: Cultural Integration Leader (Corporate HR – Talent Management)
How I got to my current role:
LOWE’S COMPANIES, INC., Mooresville, NC
FOOD-FELLAS, INC., Morgantown, WV
MILLIKEN & COMPANY, Spartanburg, SC
A day in life of Culture Integration –Thinking back to one of my first jobs as a production manager in manufacturing, I can remember arriving at the plant at 7:30am every day, checking in with my production unit, running efficiency and quality numbers from the previous day, synthesizing data, developing insights, reporting out to the larger production team, and then going to lunch by noon…every day. If you’re the lead of a strategic initiative at Lowe’s that’s focused to improve the way we work together, there’s no typical day like the one I just described. For the most part, we work on two paths – one path is working to a plan to produce tangible deliverables that will help other teams, and the other is gaining alignment with partners and stakeholders.
I work in a corporate environment that has different cultures and sub-cultures throughout the building – some teams are very structured and calendared, where other teams may be more agile, all depending on the workload and alignment to strategic growth. Below is an example of a recent day I’ve had.
7:45AM – I only live 3 miles from the office, so 7:45am departure times are nice. Dress code is “dress for your day”, meaning I usually wear a nice shirt and jeans to work. If I’m part of a very important meeting, I’ll switch to business casual, but only rarely (we’ve set expectations by having our executive team begin to wear jeans).
8:00AM – I arrive on time usually every day. However, depending on the project and workload, I’ve been known to arrive at the office any time between 5:00am and 8:30am, depending on the previous day. Once I arrive, I get settled and begin to check any emails that came through as I was getting ready in the morning.
9:00AM– I’ll head to a casual meeting in our coffee shop from 9-10. The meeting may be with a partner within my Talent Management team, or it could be a peer across the organization that I’m partnering with on a new work effort. We’ll sit down and share information in an open, casual setting vs. booking a conference room.
10:00AM – I’ll head back to my desk and continue to work on synthesizing findings from a recent survey into a presentation deck. This is a presentation that will more than likely be in the hands of my SVP and CHRO.
11:00AM – Another meeting on the schedule with my partner in Corporate Communications. We’re going to discuss some of the pluses and deltas from a recent workshop we were in together. We’ll also talk about how our groups align to the same cultural attributes throughout the rest of the year.
(Note: Since culture work is an enterprise issue, we will work with many partners representing all areas of the business including operations, communications, customer experience, marketing, merchandising, HR, Finance, etc.)
11:30AM – Lunchtime. I’m going offsite today, driving 3 miles down the street to see a former colleague of mine. I try to get out a couple times a week to catch up with friends who have left Lowe’s.
12:30PM – Prepare for a 30 min meeting coming up at 1:30pm, this will be Org Effectiveness work around a new team.
1:30 PM – Another meeting – the one I was prepping for earlier. It went well and a few action items came out of it in preparation for a larger workshop we’ll be facilitating next month with location managers throughout the country.
2:15PM – Back to reviewing the presentation deck from earlier in the morning. I have a small team meeting tomorrow with my SVP of Talent Manager and our CHRO to discuss movement and next steps for executive alignment around culture insights this year.
3:00PM – With some more 30 min check-ins around project work and culture, this day was a good start to the week. Before I leave the office for the day, I’ll make sure I’m prepared for any meetings coming up in the next few days.
5:15PM – Time to get out of the office before traffic gets backed up!
Why chose corporate work? Specifically strategic planning type work? Working for a Fortune 50 company is exciting. The business world is constantly changing, but working for a company with such a strong brand like Lowe’s is very rewarding. If you’re able to work for such a big company, you have the opportunity to learn a lot of different disciplines within the business – as long as you’re willing to laterally move around for a while. Since working at Lowe’s, I’ve learned about Merchandising, Customer Experience Strategy & Design, Supply Chain Distribution, Store Operations, Corporate Strategy, and Talent Management. What I love though about strategic work is that it starts with data and insights, then connects those insights into a very large, very broad picture. Connecting dots is fun work – especially connecting the dots when you have the right information to back up your point of view.
What’s the end goal? My end goal is to continue on my current path – holding many different roles and learning about every area of the business by leading the work.
Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – Not everyone is an Industrial Engineer, and some concepts that are core to our success (team facilitation, influencing without authority, etc.) may not be at the core of others you work with. This presents a coaching and learning opportunity, though, for IEs – former and current – throughout the business.
Least favorite thing about corporate – I sometimes miss working in day-to-day operations and seeing how value is actually created. It’s easy to lose track of how we create value by working in a corporate office, but we all have the opportunity to reach out and help our stores, distribution centers, and contact centers any time we’d like.
My 2 cents – Move around as much as possible. As long as it’s in the same company, this will work to your advantage rather than against it.