HR Passion Series  #3: Featuring Janet Duga-Manley – Director of HR, Drake International

HR Passion Series #3: Featuring Janet Duga-Manley – Director of HR, Drake International

July 9, 2018 | Rob Catalano

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Welcome to the third edition of our HR Passion Series, where we bring you insights, inspirations, experiences, and advice from prominent HR leaders.

We’ve reached out to and interviewed highly esteemed professionals who have been so kind as to share their experiences and thoughts with us in order to provide insights and inspiration across the field of HR.

We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Introducing our third guest: Director of Human Resources at Drake International, Janet Duga-Manley!



The Interview


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

I started off like many other HR professionals in recruitment and working with finding the right people for the right jobs. After holding a variety of roles in the recruitment industry, I found I really liked the internal HR generalist role best and started building my experience there. My roles seem to focus on starting up an HR function within a company to get the policies, procedures, benefits and initiatives in place. I also love the coaching side and found that running my own coaching business was beneficial to listening to people’s needs and helping support them to come up with their path moving forward.

My milestone moment would be when I realized I don’t have to climb the corporate ladder, as I really love what I do on a professional level. It is a great feeling to love what you do and not have to think about what your next step will be.


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

To me, the importance of connecting with people personally cannot be forgotten. In a world where employees, managers, and customers’ communication is composed of mostly email and text, I hope that HR professionals can help keep the face-to-face and personal connection top of mind. Seeing someone in person or picking up the phone can often avoid the misinterpretation of the written word. We know the importance and eventuality of AI infiltrating our HR world, but as this happens, the need for one-on-one connections I believe will become increasingly important.

It will be beneficial for HR professionals to embrace the real-time technology, chatbots, intelligent assistants, and other AI tools that are becoming available to us to transform how we deliver our services. There is so much opportunity to refine our recruiting, training and support services through AI and provide a heightened employee experience. Business leaders will increasingly look to see how HR will use AI to deliver more value to our organizations.

I feel the employee experience will become a stronger focus where businesses need to ensure they provide a growing, supportive and developing culture for their employees as well as the right physical and psychological environment with the right technology to get the job done efficiently. Not an easy job for a company to get it all right!


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

Moving our performance appraisals to be in line with modern thinking of more frequent interaction with a more coaching and developmental focus. We are looking to have our managers’ focus on how to develop our staff and what behaviors we want to drive looking forward, rather than focusing on past behaviors.

Another aspect is employer branding, where HR collaborates with marketing to create an employment brand that people want to work for. This will include sharing our own individual employee stories on social media to create trusting stories of what it is like to work for us. We want to replace the big money marketing campaigns with videos of real staff members sharing their specific experience. We will use actual employees because we feel that potential employees will trust what real people say rather than what the big marketing campaign tells them.


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

Get out of your office and talk with people. People want to be heard and have the chance to voice their stories, concerns, and successes.

Think of HR as providing high-end customer service to your internal employees. Provide your support timely and professionally to enable your managers to get their jobs done right.

Listen. Many times people just need to feel they have been heard. Hold back your urge to share your stories.

Provide guidance, not answers, so that people can answer their own questions. It is easy to solve problems for them but harder to guide someone to come up with the right answer so they feel ownership of solving their problem.

Give credit where it is due, and give it often. People love being recognized, and it goes a long way in motivating people.


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

I am really proud of my network. It takes time to establish good connections that will assist you or open doors for you. People in your network can often play multiple roles in your career at different times. I feel I have a strong support around me and people I can count on.


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

Don’t forget to advocate for yourself. Often people in HR like to ensure that everyone is taken care of, but don’t forget about yourself. Ensure you tell your boss and others what a great job you did so they know about what you get up to.

Ensure you advocate to get your pay rise and promotion too. I’ll never forget asking for a small increase and the CEO said that I should be more confident in asking for what I deserve. He could see the value in the work I did, but I felt that because I know so much about everyone else’s salary that I felt guilty using that knowledge for my benefit.


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?

My current CFO Simon Harding has been a great mentor for me. Even though he is in the financial world, his approach to solving problems is commendable. He removes the emotion from the situation and can pick out the main points to address easily. His calm and clear thinking allows him to communicate back to people without them getting offended or defensive. Even though you could be getting a telling off, his communication style can still make you feel valued.


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?

I love using the HRPA resource center for templates and information. They always have a good variety of resources with a quick turnaround.

I also love Carswell’s Best Practices.

In order to grow continuously, I read (books, HR Reporter, legal cases) and have been taking the HRPA online courses. The courses give a good reminder of many of the theories out there to support what we do day to day.


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

The Rocky theme song…I feel that my career has been years of training, hard work, sweat and tears, and I’d love to bounce up to the stage for my award.


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

Boundaries, Partner, Value-add.

A big thank you to Janet, and stay tuned for our next HR Passion Series guest!



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.