By Shana Feggins
May 1, 2021
The Forbes article “Can HR Strategies Create a Competitive Advantage for Your Company?” by Scholley Bubenik echoes the chatter from human resources and other functional leaders that YES “maximizing your human capital is a major contributor to achieving a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Be-Edge crafters like myself need a framework to uncover their core and competitive advantage. Dr. Ivy Be-Edge tool and methodology helped guide my experience of recognizing my personal, social, and professional capital through consulting projects. I was able to answer my own question of how I can be an HR leader for my organization.
For the past year, I completed two consulting projects in my MBA at Northeastern University. The first project was for Beyond Meats. The project focused on international business and strategic decision making to strategically positioning Beyond Meats in a new international market with a transnational approach. The second project was for a GIEL Northeastern University department. The goal of that project was to address the student enrollment problem by innovative competitive positioning with enhanced core competencies.
Both projects were monuments tasks filled with high volumes of data, interviews, design thinking, and time. What made these projects manageable were the overall framework and individual frameworks at each step of the process. With clear guidance, these frameworks clearly marked the steps needed to complete the consulting projects. As a result, the strategic recommendations were easy to identify. Through a PESTLE, VRIO, Porter’s 5 forces, and other frameworks clear matches arise to identify the strongest competitive advantage for the organizations.
At the start of the projects, it is difficult to see and understand how your capabilities could be utilized within the team structure. It was through the weekly team meetings, client interviews, and report development that my capabilities began to shine. I started to notice the transferrable skills and assets I bring to the table. These projects strengthen my strategic capabilities to maximize the full scope of my experience in human capital, strategic communications, research, higher education, and project management.
Throughout the consulting case project, I kept notes of topics and duties that were of interest to me or areas of the project I enjoyed. Overtime, I was able to see what my interests and strengths were. This also occurred several times in meetings with the client. I found my past master’s degree clarified the organization’s problem. Due to that experience, I was able to put forth recommendations to my team that ultimately were included in the final consulting report.
They may have industry knowledge that can help you realign and strengthen your core. I had several meetings with my teammates discussing their careers and backgrounds to identify solutions based on their experience. Each one brought a unique insight that helped to expand my capacity for understanding my role and value to an organization.
Any consulting project requires extensive brain energy. There needs to be a balance between critical thinking and some amusement to foster innovative solutions. Alison Beard writes in her Harvard Business Review article “Leading with Humor,” “Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.” Start your group meetings with sharing updates from the day or funny tidbits about the case. It will unlock the creativity and collaboration you need to better serve your client.
As an ADA program manager, my role was newly created in the HR function. The focal point of my job is to support employees and community members with disabilities. The program I manage provides reasonable accommodations, training, resources, coaching, and programming. Using my position, consulting projects, and experience, I applied the Be-Edge framework to myself.
Step 1: What is MY multi-dimensional core?
I elucidate my professional core as a diversity/equity/inclusion strategic leader and a storyteller with experience in human capital and program management for innovative organizations. My passion is connecting and supporting employees so that they can actualize their potential. My differentiator is in helping employees to maximize their capabilities, so they enhance and drive the organization’s competitive edge.
Step 2: How do I connect with the employer and involve him in my passion?
In my effort to develop trust in my idea and passion, I knew that I should place it within a company story. I shared my passion with the management of my organization and volunteered to investigate where and how the idea of fostering a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities can be implemented. Through a series of meetings discussing the approach and integrating it into the company’s background, I was given the green light.
The meetings that took place encouraged dialogue across the organization.
Step 3: Capitalizing on your multi-dimensional core
I am currently working on the strategic plan, serving the role of internal consultant for my company. I developed partnerships with departments to put in the strategic plan that will enhance collaboration across functional units. My multi-dimensional core of a person who combines (a) a passion for diversity/equity/inclusion with (b) a business mind of a strategic leader and a storyteller with (c) experience in human capital and program management for innovative organizations lets me generate a unique value for my company in the area of my interest.
Step 4: Cementing the core, trust, and added value into the “My voice” message
This process helped me actualize my ability to be an HR leader and increase my personal, social, and professional capital. It pathed the way for clarity in my role and how I can best serve the community. I was able to get buy-in and create lasting partnerships that will enhance the experience for people with disabilities. I am excited for the future and the work to be done!
About the Author:
Shana Feggins, MPS, SHRM-CP, is a Program Manager, Diversity Champion, and MBA Candidate