Employee Spotlight: Christina Holland, Director of Human Resources, Americas

This Employee Spotlight is with Christina Holland, the Director of Human Resources for ACE Controls, Fabreeka, Tech Products, General Aerospace, Hahn Gasfedern and Stabilus in the Americas. With her wealth of experience in HR and firsthand knowledge of the changing HR landscape, Christina shared her perspective on various aspects of HR, from her day-to-day responsibilities to the impact of digital technology on HR practices at ACE Controls. 

Why did you choose HR?

I did my undergrad at Oakland University and we had to have an internship before we could graduate. I was a Communication undergrad and I found an internship at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which was where the Detroit Pistons played. So, I went there to do my internship in a Training and Development role, which eventually snowballed into a pure Human Resources role. It really appealed to me. A lot of people with Communication and Psychology degrees tend to fall into HR a lot of times. So after graduating, I started at The Becker Group and I did training and environmental health and from there, I went to FTE Automotive as an HR manager.  

Why move to Stabilus?

Shortly after Stabilus acquired ACE Controls, they needed someone to manage the transition. There were a lot more requirements and responsibilities to manage, which led to a reorganization in HR. I had worked with the previous CFO at FTE Automotive before he moved to Stabilus, so he already knew that I would be a good fit to lead the transition. 

What does a work day look like for you?

My typical workday is a blur. It could start with some reporting and end with major hiring or firings or even some sort of catastrophe. A normal workday usually has a lot of reporting, a lot of touching bases with different managers in the HR Team. There’s always a ton of different projects. Right now, my coworker Wioletta is on vacation, so I get to go back to my roots and do payroll again. You never know what you’re going to come into with HR. Your day could be completely planned out and then all of a sudden something crazy happens.

What Are Your Favorite Parts of the Job?

Working directly with the people here for sure. My current HR team is the most talented group of individuals ever. They are funny, technically savvy, and they laugh at me, it’s great. I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor, and we’re just able to laugh so much together at work. But we do get a lot done too!

What’s Your Biggest Professional Achievement?

I think my biggest professional achievement would be bringing Cornerstone, a learning management and performance management system, to full implementation in the US and Mexico and more recently would be getting Linkedin Learning. Professionally, seeing how the development opportunities for Stabilus Associates has grown over the last few years is probably the most rewarding and I think the most impactful to the business. So really improving the performance and learning management.

How Is HR Changing with the Changes of Digital Technology?

It’s really amazing how well the HR industry has moved to a digital one. We have moved from a traditional HR team to a shared service and that has freed up time to let the team do what they love with Human Resources. It’s really helped us bring that technology side forward. The minute Covid hit we couldn’t send out forms or signatures, so we were able to react quickly with ADP to move everything to electronic, which is both good and bad. Our younger associates love it, but we still have to sometimes cater to some of the older team members who aren’t as technologically advanced. But the face of HR in the company today is very different than it was even 5 years ago.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your field?

It’s tough. HR is a thankless job and you gotta have thick skin along with the desire to better the organization and people. My success is really due to the team that I’ve been able to build. If you want to succeed, you need to gather competent, like-minded people. A lot of people on my team are a little young, but they are good people, tech savvy, and want to help. When those core values are there, you can just let them go to be themselves and do projects. I think that’s what leadership is all about: you can’t micromanage your talent. You have to let them be themselves and do what makes them happy. Thanks to that principle, we were able to find everybody’s niche. Like Wioletta is really good at one part of HR where Autumn is good at another. So you can split out your team based on their strengths, and everyone is happy. Leadership is never about one person.

What makes people join and stay at ACE Controls?

I think people join ACE Controls because we are the leader in the automotive and industrial market.Their first interface with ACE is through our recruiter, Andrea Bray, and she is amazing. So when you have that first interaction with someone and you’re like “wow, this is great”, it’s easy to see why they join. As for why they stay, at our organization you can really make the job your own. We’re not too big to be choked up by politics or restrictive structures, so you can really affect change quickly. And the one thing we’ve found in all of our surveys is that management is always approachable. Across the board this is true, from the President of the Americas to the CEO, to any of the directors. Anyone can walk into someone’s office and talk directly with leadership. So access to management is really easy. I think it’s also small enough to still feel like a family oriented company, but large enough to really invest in our people and future. We’re the perfect size.

What are your goals this year? What is the ideal employee experience you’d like to see?

So the HR goals this year are to do a better job in succession planning. We have a lot of internal KPIs, one of which is for 80% of all promotions to be internal candidates, and I think that’s amazing. We really put our people first. So using Linkedin Learning to really develop our internal talent and making them aware that they are on the succession grid is really important. A lot of times, we have people on these succession plans but don’t communicate it to them. We also really want to improve diversity, particularly for female leads. We’ve hit our targets in the US, but some of the other regions are a little challenged in bringing female leadership forward. 

Ideally, I would love to see employees easily be able to transition to other teams that appeal to them. Like if someone were hired as an engineer, I would love to see more cross-functionality among the teams. Currently people tend to stay on the team they’re hired on, so we have to do a better job enabling people to move across the organization. Sometimes even just a lateral change can make a lot of difference for our associates. 

Favorite HR Morale/Holiday Event?

It’s gotta be Halloween. We just go all out on our Halloween costumes and everyone participates, and it’s a riot. We love Christmas, but it’s a little touchy for people. It can be a pretty emotional time for some people. But Halloween is all about fun. So I’d have to say Halloween. There’s a costume contest, all kinds of goodies, and then we parade around the plant. It’s a really fun day.

Fun Question: If you could have dinner with any 3 people in the world, dead or alive, who would they be?

I never got a chance to meet my dad’s dad, so my Grandpa Bianchini would be one of them. My second one would be Pope John Paul II because I just think he’s an amazing human being. And then my third one would be Jason Sudeikis, because I think he’s just hysterical. With Jason, I’d want to know all about Ted Lasso, not so much about his wife. With my Grandpa, I really want to understand my dad better as a kid. And with Pope John Paul, to get shot and still be able to get up and forgive the guy the next day – to have that level of love – I can’t even imagine what that’s like. 

Anything else you want to discuss?

I think being a female lead in the manufacturing industry is pretty uncommon. The one thing I would add that helped me prepare for the role was being the youngest with two brothers. It would take a lot to offend me or push me around, so I do love that I had so many boys in my life growing up to prepare me for this role. Because it is still pretty male dominated.