Incorporating Authenticity

August 21, 2023

Navigating today's post-COVID world looks and feels much like before the pandemic reshaped our lives. But that wasn't always the case, especially for business professionals navigating office closures and infections in 2021. And for Scot Johnson, then VP of Human Resources for North America with Pandora, hearing directly from his peers around Maryland was an invaluable experience.

The Bowe Fellow knew other Pandora employees had raved about the benefits of the fellowship built explicitly for emerging and developing global executives and was excited to get in the room with leaders from other Maryland-based companies.

“We were in that weird transition where nobody knew whether we were going back in the office, how long we were going to be in the office, what it meant for recruitment, what it meant for retaining staff,” said Scot. “To be able to go to a WTCI event and actually talk amongst my peers and ask, ‘What are you guys doing?’ That really helped shape the ideas that we put in place at Pandora to make sure that we were really consistent with the market and the market approach.”

That perspective was invaluable. And those conversations happen regularly during the Bowe Fellowship, with all the fellows learning from one another. Scot was the only HR professional during his cohort, bringing a different point-of-view to the challenges during the sessions, like tackling the supply chain. Scot suggested HR-focused solutions, like talent acquisition, to alleviate supply chain pressure. Those conversations led to tangible changes that Scot is still exploring in his new position as the Chief Human Resource Officer with Randa Apparel & Accessories.

“We were talking about marketing at Stanley Black & Decker, and they were going through some of their marketing principles,” he said. “And I’ve always thought that talent acquisition is marketing. It’s marketing your company. I kept thinking in terms of how talent acquisition used the principles of edge social media marketing to drive the same kind of responses you’d drive to a product. So as we’re developing our LinkedIn persona, we’re really looking at it as a marketing campaign.”

While the connections and innovations Bowe Fellows take back to their companies are perhaps the most visible results of the fellowship, many also undergo a personal transformation. Shannon Hatmaker, a member of Scot’s cohort, was able to learn about other businesses and then refocus on her own role at Under Armour. Scot took the lessons about personal branding to heart and learned something about himself.

“The Bowe Fellowship was an opportunity to learn and grow, and the desire there is to always incorporate your new state, your new thought, your new way, right?” he asked. “This idea of authenticity now is just really strongly embedded in me.”

As an HR professional, Scot is always thinking about people and possibilities. As a Bowe Fellow, he saw the possibility for professional growth outside of the traditional parameters. He saw a program built around people that offered so much more than a certificate or a title, and it offered a pathway.

“If you’re going to be a really good organization, you owe someone readiness,” said Scot. “And you need to be able to give employees experiences that help them get ready for where they want to go. No organization can guarantee a promotion, and when we associate promotion with growth, I think we really do ourselves a disservice. This is a program that allows you to do that. It allows you to say, ‘I’m going invest time, energy, and money,’ because they’re going to grow and come out different than they went in.”

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