It doesn't take very long for April Bailey to come up with an explanation as to how she ended up in her current profession.
"I've just always wanted to see things through," she says, "and that's what led me into HR."
That sense of follow-through is just one of the many reasons Bailey, a human resource manager at Melbourne, Fla.-based international communications and information technology company Harris Corp., was named to this year's Human Resource Executive® magazine's HR's Rising Stars list for 2009.
While Bailey was a psychology undergraduate at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., a professor turned her on to the world of industrial and organizational psychology, and a match was quickly made. She went on to earn a graduate degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Central Florida and quickly found a job as an HR generalist with Intersil Corp.
In 2005, Bailey joined Harris Corp. as an HR generalist in support of the company's proprietary business area, and she also assumed responsibility for a number of support functions, such as finance and operations. In 2007, she assumed her current role leading the staffing strategy and process for Harris' Government Communications Systems Division, which consists of approximately 6,500 employees.
That same fiscal year, the division's recruiting and relocation budget experienced significant overruns because of its complex nature and a prior lack of oversight. Bailey was tasked with leading an initiative to establish a well-defined recruiting and relocation budget plan, process and control mechanism. To do that, she would have to collaborate with the company's corporate HR, finance compliance and talent-management divisions.
"I was the first person in the division's recent history to play that role," she says. "There had never been a central [person] to manage these processes for the division before."
Bailey says the group "looked at practical ways to recommend a structure and make it more predictable, but not so limited that we wouldn't get the right people in the right place at the right time. ... The goal was to look at it more on a cost-per-hire basis."
By establishing a set of streamlined and repeatable processes to ensure both that future budgets would be established in line with staffing needs and that they could be managed, controlled and met, Bailey's team saved $3 million in fiscal 2008. The company is also in line to meet or come in under the division's recruiting budget for 2009 as well, according to Brenda Morrish, vice president of human resources for Bailey's division.
"April has the intelligence, executive presence and leadership skills needed to assume roles at much higher levels in the organization," Morrish says. "She has gained the confidence and respect of her subordinates, peers and superiors."
Bailey says her current role in the organization "is to bring the best practices from the industry and bring internal customers some ideas to tailor for our division, and use the models for staffing and forecasting in a way that's specific to our division, not necessarily something off the shelf."
She adds that she is grateful for the many mentors and superiors she has encountered in her professional career to this point, as well as all the precious nuggets of advice she's picked up along the way. When asked for the best advice she can share on handling HR issues, she's quick to offer this gem: "Step back and figure out how it's connected to the larger strategy."
And, of course, be sure to follow through.