Notable Women in Human Resources: Michelle Szymik

Director of human resources, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry

  • Category: Notable Women in Human Resources
  • Number of years working in your current industry: 10
  • Undergrad degree/university: B.S. Human Resources Management, Bellevue University
  • Graduate degree/university: M.S. Organizational Performance, Bellevue University

Two years ago, the human resources department for Manitowoc-based Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry – and by extension the company – was in disarray, according to company CEO, Sachin Shivaram.

“Unions were at odds with management, the company had lost several key members of our team, and a feeling of apathy hung over everything,” he said.

And then came Michelle Szymik. She was initially hired as a consultant to fill in temporarily after the abrupt departure of our previous HR director.

Shivaram also was new to the company and to his role, and quickly came to see Szymik as the company’s “rock.”

He asked her to join the organization in a permanent role as HR director, and she accepted.

“It is hard for me to overstate the impact she has had on our organization in just two years” Shivaram said. “She has professionalized and standardized our HR policies. She simultaneously negotiated three separate contracts with our three unions, achieving an outcome that was a true win-win for the company and for our people.

“She shepherded us through several complicated legal situations with employees. She took charge of our safety department and has led a 30% reduction in our DART rate. And above all, her heart and energy have infected everybody with a sense of joy every day.”

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