Episode 392: Gaining Knowledge and Experience by Opening up to New Opportunities With Leslie Aument

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Leslie Aument, Head of People at Kojo Technologies, sharing advice on how to gain knowledge and experience.

Episode 392: Gaining Knowledge and Experience by Opening up to New Opportunities With Leslie Aument

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Leslie Aument, Head of People at Kojo Technologies, sharing advice on how to gain knowledge and experience.

Table of Contents

I think to be really strong in the CHRO role, you need to be, you need to have really good business acumen. You need to really understand the business, understand the business goals, understand what each department or function at the business, what are they trying to achieve, how does that roll up to the business goals? And so you get the most experience sort of swimming in that pond of the business strategy when you’re in an HRBP role specifically. And so I do think that that, that path helps set you up for success to be a people leader and to have a strategic voice among the executive team.

Episode 392: Gaining Knowledge and Experience by Opening up to New Opportunities With Leslie Aument


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:03.04] Welcome to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that I offer at Workology for certification prep and re-certification for HR leaders. This podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast and it’s focused on the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer or CHRO. The CHRO is sometimes called the VP of People or the Chief People Officer, and it’s an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources as well as with organizational development and implementing policies of change to help improve the overall efficiency of the company. Now the CHRO podcast series on Workology is sponsored by the HR Benchmark Survey. I’d love for you to share your insights at www.HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. One of the reasons we continue to do this series, I started this specific series in 2020 and we continue to do it is because our role is changing and it continues to change as Chief People Officers or CHROs. It is continuing to evolve and it’s doing so at a rapid pace. I want aspiring CHROs to know how they’re changing the types of skills and experiences they are going to need to promote into a future CHRO-level role, and I want them to also hear from senior HR leaders, senior HR leaders, talking to senior HR leaders about how we are working together. We’re partnering and collaborating with executives to help grow the business and support the organization. Before I introduce this podcast guest, I do want to hear from you. Text the word “PODCAST “to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number. I want to hear from you. So today I am so excited to be joined by Leslie Aument. She’s the Head of People with Kojo Technologies. Leslie holds a SHRM-SCP and has been working in HR since her very first job out of college as a recruiting coordinator. She has been a generalist, an HR representative, an HR manager, a staffing specialist, an HR business partner, and you can see that she has grown her career as she has evolved. She’s held all the positions. Plus, she has worked in HR in a variety of industries, including healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and of course, technology. Leslie, I’m so excited. Welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Leslie Aument: [00:03:31.49] Thanks for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:33.11] Let’s start with your background. You have truly worked your way up the ladder in HR, which I absolutely love. I wanted to ask what led you to choose HR and how has your career evolved over time into your current role, which is the Head of People?

Leslie Aument: [00:03:47.93] Yeah, I actually fell into HR. I wasn’t necessarily intentionally pursuing a career in HR. At the time that I graduated from college, I lived in my smaller college town and there weren’t a ton of job opportunities, but I had a network connection who got me a job as a recruiting coordinator for a small third-party agency recruiting group. And that’s sort of how I first got my taste into recruiting. And I remember enjoying it, but thinking, I think I would rather work for one company and recruit for them versus trying to recruit for a lot of companies and then also trying to market candidates. And so my next job, I moved over onto the corporate HR recruiting side and then grew from there.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:28.52] I love that. I love that so much. And it’s funny because on TikTok we get a lot of questions, DMs, and different things of people who are like, I want to start in HR or I’m a recruiting coordinator or an HR coordinator. How do I get promoted? So tell us more about kind of how you grew.

Leslie Aument: [00:04:45.95] Yes, I was pretty fortunate that that second job was also as a recruiting coordinator, but it was with a fast-growing company. So at the time, we were just trying to keep up. The whole HR department, recruiting, and all the other functions alike, everyone was slightly under-resourced, so there were lots of opportunities for me to just raise my hand and be like, I’ll do it, I’ll do it. So I just volunteered to do anything and everything that I could make time for. So I helped out with some learning and development. I helped out with our HRBPs. I helped out with performance reviews. I literally would do anything that they would let me to just get as much experience as I could and to just also, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do because I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to do recruiting long term. It was interesting and helpful, but I was much more interested in some of the other functions within HR. So I just took a lot of initiative and raised my hand to do as much as possible, which paid off. I had the opportunity to then move into a staffing coordinator and full life cycle recruiter, and then when there was an opportunity to move over into an HR representative position at the time, which I would say is most analogous to like a junior level HRBP today, I got that opportunity.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:58.65] Awesome. Well, I want to step back a second and talk a little bit about SHRM certification. So you, when did you sit for your SHRM-SCP and what was the impetus for your decision to get your HR certification?

Leslie Aument: [00:06:11.37] Yeah, so, actually when I was wanting to make that move from recruiting over into the HR representative position, that was actually at the time before SHRM offered their certification and there was just the HRCI PHR or SPHR. So I actually got my PHR at that time because I wanted to help myself look like get more experience. What I’ve discovered early on with HR is so much of HR is experience. You can just learn on the job and you kind of have to get yourself into the right company environment, right people around you to help you grow and learn. But the part that is hard to get on the job is employment law. Like specifically the technical details of how to manage employment law. So I wanted to get my PHR certification to help me get that knowledge. And so at the time, I actually took a class through a local college in their sort of master’s of HR program specifically on that took the PHR. And then a couple of years later is when SHRM rolled out their own certification, and I could easily kind of get that parallel SHRM-CP. And then I actually let my certifications lapse. I mean, I maintained them for a while, but in my first Head of People role, which was at a fair trade jewelry company, at that point, I was like, Hey, I’m in, a Head of People role. I’m really loving it and I don’t necessarily think I need to maintain my certifications for my job today. So I let them lapse. But around the time that I decided it was time that I wanted to move on and I wanted to grow my career by going into a larger company, I wanted to get into SaaS and technology. I, at that time, I was like, I should probably, um, I think it would help me to have this SHRM-SCP back on my resume to show that I have this sort of senior-level understanding, because it’s one of those things that I think is on a lot of job postings as a nice to have. And so I was like, I just want that to be a non-issue. And so I studied on my own and took the SHRM-SCP. And then, you know, later that year I moved on to a home care SaaS company where I was the director of HRBP. And so being in that position, then it was like, okay, I got what I wanted there. And then from there I’m now at Kojo where I’m the Head of People again, also in SaaS growing startup. And I think it’s just been helpful to have, as I did, a few career pivots in this senior level.


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:29.44] I love that too. And because you started in recruiting too, I think not that everybody says, Oh, you don’t have a degree in HR. I mean, or you don’t have experience necessarily exactly as like an HR generalist or one of those type of roles. So it is helpful to say I have that foundation that I can do the things or I have an understanding. I haven’t necessarily been in the role for seven years, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t, that I don’t have that knowledge to be able to, to do the job successfully.

Leslie Aument: [00:08:59.23] Yeah, I do think making that pivot from recruiting into an HR generalist or HRBP-type role can be a hard jump. You, I think it helps to have somebody in your organization who is advocating for you to take a chance on you, because I think so often when we, you know, are creating a role and or we’re wanting to backfill a role in an HRBP space, the default is to go for someone who has that experience because it literally is just the experience and the reps where you gain that confidence and advising your business partners. And so fortunately I was able to develop those advocates internally by working hard as, in the recruiting function. And then even at a previous company where I was a leader, I actually had the opportunity to advocate for someone who didn’t have as much experience but who I felt like could get up to speed and give her that opportunity. And so it was very rewarding for me to do for someone else what someone did for me to make that transition, because it can be tricky.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:55.36] I love that. And for those who are like, What’s an HRBP? It’s a human resources business partner. So kind of a relatively new role in human resources. But, and I think it’s a great sort of combination where you’re kind of the expert in this one area supporting a group versus the entire organization. Let’s talk about maybe skills and experiences that you believe are absolute requirements for somebody moving into a role like yours. Also, let’s think about maybe somebody who’s just starting out in, in the industry.

Leslie Aument: [00:10:30.49] Yeah, these are great questions. I do think to eventually get to like a CHRO or Head of People role, it has, it will be helpful to spend time as an HRBP, an HR business partner, at some point. And the main reason I believe that is because I think to be really strong in the CHRO role, you need to be, you need to have really good business acumen, you need to really understand the business, understand the business goals, understand what each department or function at the business, what are they trying to achieve? How does that roll up to the business goals? And so you get the most experience sort of swimming in that pond of the business strategy when you’re in an HRBP role specifically. And so I do think that that, that path helps set you up for success to be a people leader and to have a strategic voice among the executive team. But, like I said, it can be a little bit tricky to get into HRBP from an entry level. And so often I think it is helpful to get in recruiting or in a benefits admin or analyst-type role like on the people operations side.

Leslie Aument: [00:11:38.52] You know, I think that what was unique about my experience as well is so at the time I was trying to find that job in corporate. It was in the fall of 2008, which was a terrible time to be finding an entry-level job. Many of my peers just said, Forget it, we’re going back to get grad school because there are no jobs. And I got some good advice at that time from another recruiter who said, you know, be a temp and then you can get your foot in the door somewhere and prove yourself. So that is actually how I got that job in that corporate space during a tough market was I was a temp. And then once I was a temp, I had to absolutely prove my value and show that I could work hard and put in the effort or whatever and get my foot in the door. And then again, like I think I said before, like, you should make your career aspirations known. You know, I want to move into HRBP. How could, you know, find that mentor or advocate within the organization who can help you sign up or raise your hand to do as much additional things as possible and help others, and then you’re well positioned when that opportunity arises to hopefully be able to step into it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:39.53] I think being a temp is a great option, especially right now as organizations are still a little shaky. It’s so weird. We’re in such a weird time. The labor market is hot, but then there are different industries who are reorganizing, maybe they over-hired in certain areas. And right now HR has been impacted. I think I saw something like 28% of roles since the, this last restructure. Layoffs have happened in, mostly in recruiting and, and HR-type roles. So I think temp is really great. And they still need HR, they still need someone to process payroll. I answer those employee benefit questions, deal with the day-to-day. So coming in as a temp I think is a great way to, like you were saying, get your foot in the door.

Leslie Aument: [00:13:29.47] Right. Yeah. I mean, every business is made up of money, needs money and people and so there’s no getting around it. And so yeah, every business needs the support of good HR people.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:40.77] That’s true. And temp work kind of has moved onto another line item of the financial statements. So that’s one of the reasons this happens. It’s also more liquid if you’re a temp contractor or temp worker versus somebody who’s a permanent employee. So for those who are like, why are they hiring for temps but not full-time people? Well, full-time people cost more because we have benefits and we might have to offer severance and different things.

Leslie Aument: [00:14:08.52] Well, and also I think that temp roles arise when there is market uncertainty. And so it’s hard for companies to commit to a full headcount long term. And then also if there are special projects or things happening that are maybe more short term. But again, if you can get in there and be awesome, they will find a way to make you a part of their long-term team.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:25.59] Totally, totally true. Let’s talk about the size of your company, Kojo Technologies and the team, as well as the organizational structure. I’m curious to know where you sit in terms of who you report to and then who do you manage?

Leslie Aument: [00:14:40.47] Sure. So Kojo is a startup. So we have raised through our series C, we have about 90 employees internationally. I would say about 80 of those are US based and we’re expanding internationally now. And then we’ll, we’ll cross over 100 later this year, anticipate. So Kojo, every startup kind of has a different approach to how they hire leaders. Some choose to hire more generalists like mid-level that can do a lot of different things, and then they’ll hire more senior leaders over them in the future as they scale. Kojo took the opposite approach where they hired their leaders as the first hire into each department as they started to grow so that the leader actually had to do the work themselves and set things up and lay the foundations, and then they could hire their team from there. So I was the first people ops hired at Kojo when I started, again, also, I think a lot of companies start hiring a full-time HR person once they cross 50 employees because that’s when a lot of employment laws kick in and there’s a little bit higher risk or things that you want to have considered where you want to have that in-house.

Leslie Aument: [00:15:46.59] And so I was hired. I came on, I was like employee 65 or something like that at the time. And then I report into our COO. So he and I meet regularly, but I also have a regular check-in with our CEO since obviously it’s her, she’s our founder and it’s her vision, and, and the two of them together actually have a very close partnership and have worked really well to define our culture and our values and things like that. And so fortunately for me, it’s a situation where even though I report into the COO, there’s like, the three of us are quite aligned on what we’re trying to do. And I have a very good working relationship with each of them. But from there I now have a people ops generalist who reports into me, and then I also have our talent acquisition team reports into me, and that includes, you know, our senior manager of TA, a recruiter, and a recruiting coordinator.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:41.84] Awesome. And I think how lucky you are to have such a good relationship with the CEO and COO, because I have found a lot of times over cocktails with HR professionals, they’re not in a situation like that at all. And it’s, it’s really hard. And if you’re seeing a lot of turnover in HR right now, it’s likely because that’s going on.

Leslie Aument: [00:17:04.37] Yeah, I’ve, I’ve been in other situations where there was a lot more friction or tension between myself and then the direction that the executive leader or founder wanted to go or things like that. And it is very hard to navigate and I am very lucky. And I would also say I was pretty picky in my job search because knowing that I wanted to come in early and build meant that I needed to be extremely closely aligned with the founders and their vision for culture and values. And so I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to find that in Kojo.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:37.46] I love that. That just says a lot about you, too. And people often forget that the job search is just as much about you being a fit for them as, as, as you as the leaders in the organization being a fit for you.

Leslie Aument: [00:17:51.38] Yeah. Yes.

Break: [00:17:53.27] Let’s take a reset here. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you are listening to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. We are talking about the role of the CHRO with Leslie Aument, Head of People with Kojo Technologies. The CHRO podcast series here on Workology is sponsored by the HR Benchmark Survey. www.HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. Take our survey! Before we get back, I would love to hear your feedback. Text the word”PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:18:33.98] Benchmarking and data is crucial to HR leaders. Workology’s HR Benchmark Survey is an always-on survey and just by taking the survey at HRBenchmarkSurvey.com, you’re signing up to get comprehensive quarterly results, whitepapers, and other research from the survey right to your inbox. It takes ten minutes or less to complete. Visit HRBenchmarkSurvey.com.

Make the Implicit Explicit


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:00.36] I’m going to link to Kojo Technologies’ career site in our show notes, but can you tell us about your employee blueprint? Because I loved this and I know our listeners are gonna want to hear more about it.

Leslie Aument: [00:19:11.73] Yeah. So one of my soapboxes, I think, as an HR person is, let’s make the implicit explicit. So how do we make all the expectations for an employee really clear? Because when you know what’s expected of you, you can then meet those expectations, exceed those expectations. I think that where employees or even managers can have tension or get frustrated is when there’s an expectation that’s not met that somebody didn’t know was an expectation on them. And that happens across our lives in all of our relationships. So one of our goals at Kojo, especially because we are fully remote, is to try and make all of the expectations as clear as possible. And we do this a few different ways because there are a lot of different expectations on us and the workplace. There could be your, your metrics or your KPIs, the things you’re responsible for, the results. There could be certain behaviors, competencies, how you demonstrate the values. There could be certain cultural norms, like how y’all do meetings or your written culture or how you communicate things like that. And so we created an employee blueprint, which we’ve rolled out to all of our team, and now all of our new hires go through a training on our employee blueprint, which essentially lays out like how we expect our employees to operate at Kojo. So this isn’t job specific or department specific, but this is just essentially like, how do we expect people to live out our values, and then more granular on how we operate. Like, this is what we expect for meetings and what a meeting is for and what a meeting is not for. This is how we have a strong written communication culture because we’re remote. So it’s like this is how we write things down and this is how we share it and this is how we use it. We have calendar management, how we expect people to manage their time.

Leslie Aument: [00:20:58.00] We have information on how we show appreciation to one another, how we give feedback to one another. And it really just kind of goes through sort of globally how we all work together and how we work together cross-functionally. Now, every team, individual team, will have their own flavor on this or additional expectations that kind of reflect that leader. But we wanted to at least set the bar of like, this is what we mean when we talk about working at Kojo and what we expect from everybody. And it just gives employees that one additional level of clarity beyond just sort of like, these are the results, and this is my job description, but it’s kind of just like to work at Kojo. This is what we mean. And that helps us also find, have more clarity when we’re recruiting to like find people who that type of environment will work well for them. And then it also helps us provide feedback. When somebody is not operating according to our employee blueprint, we can just very clearly point to like, Hey, this is the expectation, here’s what you’re doing. And like, how can we help bridge this gap? And it just, just makes it a lot easier to all be on the same page about how we are working.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:04.50] I love that. And I do, I’m of the belief that employees are showing up to work and they want to do their best, but a lot of times they don’t know what the rules are and what those expectations are. So by laying those out, they can research on their own or be a part of employee orientation. And then the manager has kind of like a baseline where they can say like, Hey, you attended this training or, you know, here information. Just as a reminder, I’m not seeing you meet the standard or this conflict is occurring because you’re facilitating meetings in a certain way that isn’t in alignment with, you know, the organization’s expectations. Do you feel like this has been helpful for, for managers specifically? Because I feel like that’s kind of the big challenge for everyone.

Leslie Aument: [00:22:56.37] I would actually say that most of the, like, some of the most positive feedback I’ve gotten on this work has been from managers who I mean, everybody is at a different place in their journey on their feedback skill, right? Like, how comfortable are they delivering feedback maybe in ambiguous environments or when it’s not super clear. But for managers, this helped it feel, helped them feel empowered when they were running into issues with employees. They felt a little lost on how to give the feedback in a meaningful way. Now they have something very specific to point to. They can show it in writing and they can say like, Hey, I know you went through this training. Like, this is, this is what I’m seeing. It just gives them something to anchor on, which makes the feedback conversation a lot more direct and a lot less personal feeling to the manager or feeling like I’m having to like describe how they’re not meeting an expectation. But I’d also say on the flip side, now we also have some even more things to point to when people are doing things right, right? Like, we’ve very clearly laid out the expectations. So when someone runs a good meeting, we can be like, You killed it, like, you ran this exactly how we’d love to see. You’re a paragon of this. You can point others to it as an example. So while it shows the gap where expectations might be missed, it also shows where people are meeting the mark or exceeding it in a more clear way as well.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:07.48] I think this is helpful to lay everything out and especially since it sounds like you guys are growing very quickly and scaling like having this foundation is going to help as you add more team members and managers. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Leslie Aument: [00:24:24.43] Absolutely. Especially like I said, because we’re remote and so we don’t have this sort of way to show the culture in a more nonverbal, physical way when you’re in an office space. But it’s kind of like, okay, we have to sort of set the rules of engagement together in this remote context. And then also as we’re expanding internationally, it helps us sort of say like, this is how, we are a US-based company and this is how we are operating. And so people coming from different cultural backgrounds can sort of learn right away what’s expected of them and how they like are operating at work.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:56.62] So your team and Kojo has no intentions of bringing people into an office?

Leslie Aument: [00:25:03.52] No, not at this point. We might yeah, we might explore some like WeWork type space or, you know, co-working in the future for some areas where we have what we call a hub, like more like density of employees. But we, yeah, we are not planning to like open a physical office and concentrate our recruiting to one area.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:25.35] I think that’s a huge advantage. Right now. All I’m seeing too, from HR leaders is, you know, I was hired and now my VP of HR is expecting me to come into the office. It was one day a week. Now they want it to be full-time, not just HR is feeling this, but every employee in the organization, especially if maybe they had been working there for an extended part of extended period of time.

Leslie Aument: [00:25:49.26] Yeah, well, I think that what’s happening in the market right now as well, obviously you referred to this in the beginning, but tech especially is going through a shakeup of expectations of like, what is it, what is the right number of people to get this work done and how do we do this? And there’s a lot of restructuring happening. And one of the big questions that’s happening among tech leaders is how are we actually setting up our employees to have really productive, efficient, you know, like work getting done? Is it in-office? Is it hybrid? Is it remote? And I think where we are at least is essentially there’s problems with each model. So like it’s just a matter of which problems do we want to solve for. There’s distractions. There’s, you know, like everyone kind of reaches their sort of like, this is our level of productivity we’re going to hit in this job. And so at the moment, we are just managing by, the way we’re choosing to manage it is setting high bar for performance expectations and just saying like, hey, like as long as people are hitting this high bar and we’re continuing to assess that, we are holding a high bar for performance then that, that’s where we’re going to focus our energy rather than sort of monitoring people’s time management in, in office more.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:58.28] That’s kind of the wheelhouse, like my area, like I’m in that camp, too. Not everybody is and that’s and that’s totally fine. Everybody can run their business and lead their teams differently.

Leslie Aument: [00:27:08.45] Different industries also, I think, require different things.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:11.84] Agreed, Agreed. And so you’re in the tech space, but it’s not just tech that you’re you’re doing. Can you, can you kind of walk us through a little bit about that? Like it’s Kojo Technologies is a tech, but you work in what industry?

Leslie Aument: [00:27:25.61] Oh, we’re in construction tech. So we are vertical SaaS. So we have a very specific market. We’re selling to B2B and we are selling to subcontractors. Our product specifically serves electricians, plumbers, mostly in commercial construction right now, although as we expand, we expect that to open up. But it’s a very underserved segment in the market in the industry. Construction has kind of been left behind by tech, I would say, historically. And so we are trying to do a new thing in an industry that’s a little bit tech resistant. So it’s a lot of fun challenges.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:01.41] It’s such a weird time, like I said, because there are industries in areas like Amazon is calling people back to the office. One of my friends has to go back to the office in May and for him and it’s a five-hour commute, I think, from his house with construction or some other stuff. I don’t know. It’s at least four hours for round trip for the day. It’s crazy. And so he’s actively looking. But you’re in tech, but because you’re in this vertical space, it’s really growing and you have chosen to be remote. Like, it’s a different just scenario and strategy planning for you.

Leslie Aument: [00:28:40.11] Yeah, exactly. Yes. And I think that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:44.25] Also when I think about the global component of what you’re doing too, that’s just another layer of complexity in terms of the hiring and the laws and all the fun.

Leslie Aument: [00:28:52.41] Yeah, yeah. We are tiptoeing into that and right now we are using an employee of record, employer of record to help us. So we’re not having to manage all that compliance ourselves yet. We’re too small to start taking that on. But eventually that will be one of my new challenges, is figuring out.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:08.10] I am so excited for you. That is, yes, well, it’ll be a great experience. Like great learning experience for sure. I wanted to ask about any advice you could give to HR practitioners who are early in their careers because you have switched industries and that’s not necessarily uncommon. But I think sometimes people get stuck and they’re like, I only, I only do HR and retail. How can I move over to another space? So talk to us maybe about some advice in that area for somebody looking to move into maybe a different vertical or industry?

Leslie Aument: [00:29:42.75] Yeah, I do think it’s wise to think about even when you’re interviewing into different industries of how you’re talking about your skills, your HR skills in a way that makes them sound universal versus specific to retail. So how are you solving problems and supporting employees in a way that would make sense in this other industry as well. And I mean, I think, I think it is common in HR to switch industries because people are people everywhere. Like, there’s different flavors in each industry. But I’m dealing with a lot of the same issues across companies and across industries. But I think being able to sort of talk about yourself and talk about your skills in a, in a way that like clearly shows the transferability of them, that helps a lot. And I think that this might be controversial advice, but I think it also is good to have a point of view. Like, know why you’re doing this. Like, why do you care about being an HR? Like, having sort of your own personal confidence and sort of mission and like, why are you doing this? Why do you think you can add value there? And that will in some ways maybe rule you out of certain roles where it might not be, especially early on, where it might not be a good fit. But I think that I’ve interviewed a lot of HR people in my career as I’ve built teams across the way. And, and when people are trying to be a little almost like too generic and like a little bit like I can be anything to anybody anytime, like, it’s hard to believe, right? And so it’s a little easier to like actually just sort of figure out what your, what you care about and what you want to do and share that. And hopefully, you can find a really great fit.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:17.22] I like that. And I think it’s really important to make sure that the job fits you just as much as you, you fit the job. It’s a lot like dating. I mean, if you just swipe on everybody and say, Yes, I’m interested, you’re going to end up with a lot of people who aren’t the right fit. Same with jobs.

Leslie Aument: [00:31:33.84] Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:34.23] And you might make the wrong choice.

Leslie Aument: [00:31:36.36] Right. I mean, I have been in situations myself where I worked a job that it was the only job I could get at the time and I didn’t have choices. So I was like, well, I got to pay my bills. And so this is a job I’m working. And so I just had to learn that industry out of necessity. And then I’ve had times in my career where I’ve been able to be picky and I’ve declined an offer because it wasn’t the right fit. So there’s this sort of push-pull and it depends on everyone’s situation. Sometimes I was in an industry because that was my only option, but I think that something that’s been true for me across my whole career is giving things a fair try. And even if it wasn’t a great job or I didn’t love the industry, I was still willing to learn from that experience and give it my best effort regardless. And I think that that ultimately actually paid off for me down the road.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:25.77] I love that. Well, last question. Best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?

Leslie Aument: [00:32:32.37] So this was, I think, not good advice, but I think I still kind of took the spirit of it in a way that was helpful, which was early in my career. All of the leaders that I worked under at the time were in the boomer generation. They were male. They had a very specific way of thinking about work. And so I got advice early on of like, burn the midnight oil. Like you need to work long hours to get ahead. If you stay late, you come early. You’re showing that you’re working really hard, like that’s how you’re going to grow with this company. And of course, I heard that and I was like, ugh. Like, I mean, I’m working really hard, but I also view myself as someone who works smarter, not harder. And I like, I think that I can get a lot done. So I was a little bit like didn’t love it. But I also, what I think the actual underlying sentiment was, was give it your best effort and work hard and show people that you care about it, like you care about the work. You care about the success of the company. You care about the success of the employees you’re supporting.

Leslie Aument: [00:33:32.85] You want everyone to win here. And I think and you’re working hard to make that happen. And that, I think, is actually the lesson I took from that. And that is my advice as well. Like, people can tell when you are engaged and you care and you’re invested in their success, in the company’s success and you again, want to see everyone win. And I think that just buys you so much trust and credibility. And then it just like opens more doors for you. Everyone can tell if you’re like disengaged or you don’t really care, you’re not all the way in it or you’re not actually like rooting for someone else or the business to succeed. So I think, again, that kind of gets into finding the right fit for you. So that’s an easier move to make. And you’re not like just grinding it out at a place you don’t care about. But I do think, you know. Actually caring about your job and the company goes a long way.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:34:23.89] It just makes it a lot more enjoyable in general, like. But I have worked in places that, like you said, it was just a paycheck because that was the best option at the time. So there’s seasons in life where we make choices for, for different reasons.

Leslie Aument: [00:34:39.31] Totally, Totally. And I like I said at the beginning, I think it’s a total amazing privilege that I have now that I have so much personal fulfillment in the role that I’m in. And I and I got to choose it to an extent.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:34:54.10] I love that. And it really comes through in our conversation today. Thank you so much for, for taking the time to, to chat with us. I will link to your LinkedIn profile and then the career site, too, because maybe somebody’s like, Hey, this is the kind of place I want to work and they can be on the lookout for opportunities in HR and other roles at Kojo, so.

Leslie Aument: [00:35:15.94] Awesome. Thank you.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:16.57] Thank you.

Closing: [00:35:17.71] Thank you for tuning in to this podcast and review. The CHRO podcast series on Workology is sponsored by HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. Take our survey at www.HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. I love this series so very much. I am such a nerd. It is so interesting to talk to different Heads of HR at different sizes, the different stages of the organization as well as different stages in their life and career. It is changing so rapidly. Our roles as Heads of HR and I love really diving in and hearing from you in terms of how your experience connects to the strategy and operations of the overall business. And I love sharing these things with you. The CHRO doesn’t just lead HR within the company. The company depends on this leadership role to set the standard and also benchmarks for everything from company values to learning and development to more. I appreciate Leslie sharing her knowledge and her time just to talk with us about her experience today.

Closing: [00:36:21.14] Thank you for taking your time to chat with us and join us here on the Workology Podcast. I want to get your feedback. Do you have a suggestion or an idea or a comment or just want to say, Hey, text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments. Let me know what’s going on. I want to hear from you. This is my community text number. Again, thank you for joining the Workology Podcast. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. This podcast is powered by our HR professional development courses Upskill HR, which is for certification or re-certification and Ace The HR Exam, which is for HR certification prep for SHRM or HRCI. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. Again, my name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, visit Workology.com to listen to all our previous Workology Podcast episodes. Have a great day.

Connect with Leslie Aument.



– Leslie Aument on LinkedIn

– Kojo | Careers

– CHRO Job Description

– Episode 389: CHRO Series – What Skills and Experience Do You Believe Are Absolute Requirements for a CHRO Role? Part 3

– Episode 387: Understanding the Business, Influencing, and Design Thinking With Gabrielle Lorestani

– Episode 386: Paying Attention to Help the Business Be Successful With Amy Cappellanti-Wolf From Cohesity

– Episode 385: Managing Employee Trauma at Work With Matthew Brown From Schoox

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