HR Passion Series  #10: Featuring Craig Dameron, Manager, Compensation North America at McCain Foods

HR Passion Series #10: Featuring Craig Dameron, Manager, Compensation North America at McCain Foods

August 27, 2018 | Rob Catalano

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Monday is a happy day when we get to hear esteemed HR Practitioners share  their advice and experiences for the purpose of growing, equipping, and inspiring the community.

With a different guest every week, we’re always gaining new perspectives, insights, and answers. The participants of the HR Passion Series are successful, hardworking individuals who have a passion for people and HR and are excited to share what they’ve learned over the years.

We’re honored to be with Craig Dameron today–Manager, Compensation North America, at McCain Foods.

The Interview


1. What was your journey coming up to your current HR role? Any milestone moments in your career?

I’ve been extremely privileged to have started my career in compensation supporting a variety of businesses and countries at a big bank, spent time on the business HR side for that same bank, and have now come full circle back to compensation in a completely different industry. The most important thing I did as a “comp person” was to make the switch over to business HR. It is often (and was) a challenging transition but I don’t believe you can be successful in a specialist function without that perspective – and vice versa.


2. As an HR leader, what keeps you up at night, rounding out 2018 and looking forward to the next year?

ROI, ROI, ROI. The HR function and many of the programs we own represent a cost to the business. For a long time we’ve been able to get away with developing business cases for programs and spending based on “the right thing to do”, external research, and industry benchmarking. That isn’t enough. We all know an engaged workforce is a productive workforce but what does that actually mean for our company. How do we move from measuring program success in terms of classic people measurements (engagement, retention, participation) to directly linking business financial performance to these measures. That’s what leaders are looking for, and we need to be able to provide it to them.

3. What are some elements of focus for your HR strategy in the coming 12 months?

A huge focus on the compensation side is transparency. The compensation black box is being forced open through technology (e.g. Glassdoor), demographics (people talk about pay now), and legislation. If employees are being transparent about pay with each other, we need to figure out a way to be transparent with them through direct open communication. There’s no way around that.
The second is again around data – engagement is great, but how can we as a company understand how engagement affects our bottom line.

4. What advice would you give someone going into an HR leadership position for the first time?

You hear it a lot from successful HR leaders but it’s definitely true – understand the business. One other thing I would add to that is understand and, even more importantly, articulate how what you do as an HR leader impacts the business. But you can’t do that without first understanding what is important to them.

5. Is there anything in your career you’re incredibly proud of?

There are a few moments but one that stood out; It was very early in my career and we were working on a global incentive program change being piloted to our offices in London. I was there with my boss at the time to “socialize” the changes, and it just so happened that our new SVP and VP of Rewards were there and sat in on a meeting that my boss was supposed to be running. Last minute he tossed the whole presentation to me in front of the top Europe executives and I think I blacked out for the next 45 minutes but was praised for the way I led that meeting. I was pretty nervous about presenting for groups like that before, but now I get taken back to that place every time I’m nervous about a presentation. If I could get through that, things I’m now actually prepared for are a breeze.

6. Is there anything you failed at? Any lessons learned?

Oh god. The first time I was a people manager. It was a situation where I had been promoted above people who had a ton of experience and because of that, my approach was to leave them to their own devices – “they’re the experts.” I quickly realized (because one of them told me) that I was not providing them with enough direction, and I could definitely sense I was not respected. That conversation had a profound affect on how I manage people. The importance of providing direction and framework paired with trust and freedom is a delicate balance I still work at today.

7. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as an HR leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you?

Catherine Leclair, who was the first person I managed. She was so incredibly honest and open about what she needed in a manager, it was humbling and certainly still impacts how I manage and lead people today.

8. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as an HR leader? any resources you’d recommend to HR colleagues?

It’s really about getting out of your comfort zone as an HR leader and going not only to industry events but to venture outside of your industry as well. There are a few events/organizations I’ve found incredibly useful to grow my network and hear about the evolution of HR. One is DisruptHR – the events I’ve been to have really expanded my thought bubble around what HR is and can be. Similar to that is Social HR Camp – a little more intimate with breakout sessions that invoke some quality conversation. In terms of written material, CEB Gartner is a great resource. Highly recommend purchasing a subscription for your HR team to keep everyone both skilled and knowledgeable – a ton of webinars and research material that can be tailored to what you’re interested in.

9. When you win HR Executive of the year soon, what song do you want playing when you walk up to the stage?

In an attempt at being nostalgic to my athletic days playing high school volleyball – B.O.B. by Outkast.

10. What books or podcasts would you recommend to your HR peers?

Most of the books/podcasts I read/listen to are on the personal vs professional side of things to just get my mind working outside of work. I love listening to the Freakonomics podcasts (and books). Radiolab, This American Life, and Hidden Brain are all standard commuting listens. All explore human behavior which is incredibly interesting and definitely relevant to the HR world.

11. Finally, give us three words that you would use to describe the HR profession.

Evolving, Broad, Misunderstood (but getting there)


We’d like to thank Craig for giving of his time and knowledge, and we’re excited for the upcoming weeks.
Rob Catalano

Rob Catalano

Rob Catalano is WorkTango’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer. Rob has spent the last 17 years building HR Technology companies.