From HR Representative to Vice-President Global HR

Sabrina Hamilton, the Vice President of Global Human Resources for Novus International, shared her career journey and the company's evolution. She discussed her transition from an East Coast director-level role to her current position and highlighted the challenges and rapid growth Novus International has experienced. Sabrina emphasized the importance of a systematic framework like Requisite in assessing role needs and managing the organization's growth.

Speaker A Hello. My name is Sabrina Hamilton. I am vice president of Global human resources for Novus International in St. Charles, Missouri. Novus International is an animal health and nutrition comp...

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Speaker A Hello. My name is Sabrina Hamilton. I am vice president of Global human resources for Novus International in St. Charles, Missouri. Novus International is an animal health and nutrition company, and we're going into human nutrition. Our vision is to feed the world wholesome affordable food. That's very important to us. And you'll probably hear from our president later, so I won't go into more detail about that. To give you some perspective on my career, I came from the East Coast holding a role that would have been equivalent to a director level role. I managed a group of HR professionals who looked for programmers for the National Council visitors. I moved to St. Louis for family reasons, and I worked at another spinoff of the same company, that divested, Nova's. I took about a manager level role, working primarily with the plant management. I really enjoyed it because the plant managers were really thirsty for knowledge. They wanted to know, how can we manage our plant employees, add value to their work, and make them feel like they're important to our organization. That was a lot of fun to me. I really enjoyed that role. Well, somebody figured I did it pretty well, and they asked me, would you come over and talk to us about being in the corporate environment? I didn't like being in the corporate human resources so much. I really valued working with the plant workers. So I decided to leave that role. I stayed at home for a bit, and I got a call that there was another divestiture and they liked to come talk. They wanted me to come in to interview for a benefits rep job. And I said, oh, being a benefits representative wouldn't be so bad. I really enjoy benefits. I had been taking some of the Seeds courses, certified Employee Benefits specialists, and I kind of enjoyed writing pension plans and things like that, so I thought that would be fun. When I came in, they said, well, this will be easy. We have canned benefits. It won't be very difficult to do. You'll just work with the external consultants. I was in my early 30s then, and I've been with Novus over 18 years. I'm in my early 50s. Very proud to say, as I looked at the benefits, I noticed, wow, we need to have some personnel files. We need to have some administrative ways to take care of employees. So I did. First things first, we needed a payroll system. How are we going to pay the employees? So I did all of that, and then I kind of looked around and to see what was next. I wanted to make sure that we had summary plan descriptions in place so that the employees would understand their benefits. And then I had to find tools to be able to work with the managers to make sure that the employees were well educated on what they had and how they could use it, because all of you HR professionals know that payroll overhead is one of the largest fixed costs that we have in any company. So it's really important that I help the management to manage the SGNA. My manager, who is now the president of the company, Thad Simons and I have been working for Thad since about 19 92, 93, wanted to make sure that we set Novus up to be able to be successful long term. So coming from a director level role out east, I believe I had a good enough perspective on what it was going to take to do that. And he and I worked well, very well together for many, many years. When I was in about, I guess my late 30s, novus began to go through a transition. I was promoted then from a level two benefits rep to a level three manager, and I can't remember if it was low or medium about that. I went through the progression of management. And as the transition began from being a primarily one product company to Thad, then getting the nod to be president and looking at diversifying Novus, I quickly moved into a director level role. It was necessary for the organization as we brought in our management system, which began very early on, and you'll hear more about that later. Ad and I began to look at how would we manage Novus in a way that would transition us from maybe a Stratum five to a Stratum six organization, which is where we are today. We are rapidly, in my opinion, and I think that views may be similar looking at now that we're maybe even too complex to be a Stratum six organization. So we're taking another look at where we need to place roles in the company. And we used our management system as tools, as the CEO's tools for his senior leadership team to understand how to communicate his ideas into the organization. So I work very much, very closely with the leadership team to make sure that we are equipped to go to the next level, the director level. And we are primarily now, as we've grown from 160 employees to 560, we're primarily at the three levels, the SR, the manager, and Mor. We're getting a little bit too complex now to be able to manage. So deep down in my own organization, for very many years, there were just three or four of us. Now I have shared services, I have payroll, I have facilities, and I have global HR management. I have a senior level three HR manager in Brussels for that region. I have a level three HR manager in Singapore, 33. I have a senior HR manager in Thailand, and I also have an HR manager in China. And even with all of those, that doesn't seem to be enough for this rapid growth. You'd have to understand that we went from 160 to 560 in about three years. It was very, very rapid growth. We've also diversified the company from about three and a half years, three years ago, actually. And that's pretty rapid diversification. So it's been fun, it's been challenging because a lot has happened. The structure, while it was very, very good for 160 employees, but you have to find ways of how am I going to communicate with all of these people? Cropping up in different countries. We had people in about 20 countries, 20 plus countries, and we were selling in about 70 to 80 countries. Well, we're passing the 80 country mark, and I've got people being payroll in about 35 countries. So whether you have one employee in a country or 1000 employees in a country, you still have to have the knowledge of the statutory benefits. You have to know what the competitive marketplace is. You have to know where to draw people. Because even though you may be small, say, in India, and you only have two people, we are very highly specialized. We have very scientifically based people, researchers, technical people. It's very difficult for us to find the kind of people we need. We have to be competitive. We have to have the structure in place. From a total compensation standpoint, from a management system standpoint, you have to be able to attract and retain the very best people. At about late forty s, I became a vice president at a low five role. This was at the time that we were transitioning from a Stratum Five organization to a Stratum Six organization. And we're currently looking at whether or not now we're complex enough, and I believe we are, that we may be moving into a Stratum Seven organization. Our president certainly is way out there in capability. We hope we can keep up with it. I believe that the value that requisite added to my own personal career, as well as to the rest of Nova's, is that it provides a systematic framework for judging what is needed in a role. The role. We have to look at the job first. That's critically important for any HR professional to help management do identify the work that you need in the role, identify what level that role needs to be, then look at the person you need in the role. And I think the way that it worked with me is that early on, had I not had the capability to be able to help design pension plans, help the senior staff to design the management system, help design a compensation, total compensation system globally. I had to have had a higher level perspective or I would not have been able to be successful and to move up during the maturation process in my role. Close sam.

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Sabrena Mayhan (formerly Hamilton)
Former Head of Global Human Resources
Novus International
Novus International

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