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CPO Interview

Human Capital Management

An Interview with Frank Lennon
VP of HR - Brinks

CEO Q:  Describe your organization culture? How does the CEO influence it?

I get this question a lot. Ours is a meat-and-potatoes culture, which means we are a “can-do” company where a strong work ethic is the rule of the day. As an organization, we are extremely focused on our strategy and the growth of our company. Our culture is also very demanding in terms of ethical behavior. Here, we put ethical behavior first. The very nature of our business demands nothing less. As a result, we operate in an environment of mutual trust and mutual reliance. There is a tremendous degree of interdependence on global basis. We minimize silos within the organization because we must, and do, depend on each other.

Our “can do” attitude starts at the top and filters down. The CEO not only influences the culture, he establishes it and nurtures it by his own behavior and the behavior of those who report to him. We take our ethical considerations very, very seriously. We take a zero-tolerance approach and have a strong sense of pride in our ethical standards. We can’t be the world’s premier security company unless we engender faith, trust and ethical behavior. If something or someone within the company is not in conformance with our very high standards, we take swift action to correct the problem. This attitude, or culture, permeates the organization. All 60,000+ employees are reminded twice yearly of our code of ethics and our business principles, both of which are translated into 30 languages to ensure understanding throughout the organization.

CEO Q: How do describe your CEO’s leadership style?

Mr. Dan’s leadership style is incredibly open, always transparent. He’s a fantastic teacher and very engaged at all levels of the organization. He’s hands-on and immersed in every aspect of the business but, at the same time, he gives his team the freedom to make decisions. He is truly available for anyone in the organization, believes in equal treatment and equal respect, and embodies this philosophy in his leadership.

Mr. Dan also has a simple, yet highly effective, decision-making style. He believes the best approach is not about the right decision, it’s about asking the right question: What is best for Brink’s? This is the approach he takes; he believes that if you ask the right question, the answer will be right there in front of you.

CEO Q:  How much attention does your leadership pay to human capital and talent development?

Human capital and talent development is a constant on the leadership agenda and woven into the company culture. It is not uncommon for the CEO and his team to have multiple discussions each and every day on some aspect of the development of our people.

In addition to this level of attention at the executive level, human capital and talent development is given a great deal of attention at every level, in every country. We invest heavily in training and believe that, in order to be the best at what we do and maintain our leadership position, we must bring on board the best talent and develop that talent to the fullest potential. In fact, our five-year strategic plan is centered on four areas of focus, the first of which is human capital and talent development. It is taken very seriously, not just by those of us who work here but also by the board of directors. As a result of this focus, we have built a new organization, which includes an in-house university and extensive training programs, to cater to human development in the company.

CEO Q:  What are the key strengths of your executive leadership team?

The leadership team knowledge is more than impressive. The CEO has been with company for almost 30 years and knows how the company operates, our markets, our customers, our competitors, and he knows our people well. It’s a key strength because it allows him to make the right decision and drive the change as needed. He is also a visionary, for instance, he began talking about developing business in China before the press picked up on the opportunities there.

CEO Q:  How do you align the organization with the business strategy?

Business strategy developed from ground up so that those who are running our various businesses are intimately involved in the creation of the strategy. Once the strategy is cast, it is a matter of making sure the entire organization is aware of the decisions and the plan for achieving our objectives. We do this in a variety of ways, including the use of videos and presentations. Our strategy is incorporated into every meeting, such as our quarterly meeting that includes the entire management organization, and every form of communication—matched to the audience to promote understanding and help everyone support the goals. Strategy is discussed in new employee orientation and is incorporated into training so that everyone understands their roles and is able to frame their actions in support of our strategic goals.

We provide constant updates on our progress at the global level, the regional level, the country level, and the unit level. Our strategy is a topic of constant discussion; it is part of our day-to-day business so that the strategy is completely aligned with all businesses and permeates the organizations at all levels. We simply won’t have anyone here at Brink’s unaware or unsure of our strategic direction. We expect everyone to work together to get the company where it needs to go and our strategic plan is the roadmap we use to keep our actions aligned in the right direction.

CEO Q:  Describe your CEO's involvement in executive and management development programs?

The CEO is the father of our executive and management (E & M) development program. He initiated the program many years ago after taking over as CEO of our parent company. Today, our E & M program is robust and part of every country and area of Brink’s. As part of the program, we have annual meetings whereby presidents from throughout the company come to our headquarters in Richmond to discuss their teams and the development plans in place for each manager. Each president makes a presentation but the information is provided to us beforehand so we know the individuals we are discussing and can discuss the people and the plans one-by-one. The CEO takes this process personally and reviews the development plan for every executive in the company.

We also conduct a mid-year review to update the annual plan. The CEO is involved in this review as well and is involved in the performance appraisals of our top executives. We include succession planning in our executive and management development program. We talk about this all the time. As the needs of our countries operations change or facts and circumstances change, we are ready to deal the impact on our executive and management teams to ensure a smooth transition. The CEO is part of this process, providing daily input on an informal basis and through the company’s formal E & M program.

CEO Q: What HR Best Practices do you implement in your organization?

We’ve adopted best practices for the selection of new employees. We’ve also adopted best practices pertaining to employee development. For example, we established Brink’s University as a broad training platform and put in place a new vice president of training. We have established best practices across the globe in all areas of HR, including compensation.

CEO Q:  What are the top HR Challenges and how do you manage each one of them?

The most serious HR challenge is selecting and hiring the very best people at all levels of the organization. Once we bring them on board, the next challenge is developing them to the best of their abilities.

CEO Q:  Is HR Strategy part of the CEO Strategy? What is your HR Strategy?

The first imperative of our five-year strategic plan is People Development. Simply put, our plan is to hire the best and developing them as quickly and broadly as possible so they gain greater insight into the business and are better able to further their careers and support our strategic goals.

CEO Q:  Any HR success stories you can share with us?

We are very proud of the average tenure of our employees. Many come to work here as youngsters and stay until retirement. That said, we have a lot of HR success stories.

Shellie Crandall, our Chief Solutions Officer (CSO) for Brink’s U.S., was recruited from the military and started as a branch secretary. She was quickly promoted to branch manager, then to Regional Vice President. During this time, she earned both an undergraduate and graduate degree. She worked her way up to Chief Operating Officer before her recent promotion to CSO.

Gary Taylor, our Senior Vice President of International Operations, started as a driver.

Ron Rokosz, our International Chief Operating Officer, was a retired general from U.S. army. We were so impressed with his leadership skills that we hired him directly from the army without a specific position in mind. We involved him in strategic planning where he did a fantastic job then put his skills to work in our Latin America region before he was promoted to his current position.

These are just a few examples of the limitless opportunities available at Brink’s. We believe this is the primary reason we have so many HR success stories. People choose Brink’s not just as a place to work but also as a place to build lifelong careers.

CEO Q:  Any HR lessons you can share with us?

The best HR lesson I can impart is to hire the best people you can find, train them well and develop their talents, but cut your losses when you make a mistake and move on.

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About Brink's
The Brink's is a leading global security services company listed on NYSE with more than $3 Billion in revenues,  50,000 employees worldwide, and operations in over 50 countries. The Brink's company provider of armored car transportation, ATM servicing, currency and coin processing and other value-added services to banks, retailers and other commercial and governmental agencies around the world.

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