We met with Jennifer Bailey, Chief People Officer to learn how she defines success within the People Operations department and what leadership means to her. Did you know one of her biggest dreams is to become a news anchorwoman?
1. How long have you been with the organization?
I started at Cognosante in September 2018, and I am amazed at how the two years have flown by. A few months before joining, I interviewed with Michele and knew I wanted to work for Cognosante right away. The chance to be a part of her strategic vision and seeing how Cognosante was on pace for rapid growth was an exciting and attractive opportunity to me. Since joining, Michele has proven to be one of the best leaders I have worked for. Her leadership style exemplifies what it means to be firm, supportive, and open to new ideas. I am thankful she and the Leadership Team selected me as the Chief People Officer. It’s been an exhilarating ride and I have learned so much.
2. Can you tell us a little more about People Operations?
People Operations is more than just HR. We support every aspect of the employee experience including core HR functions like Talent Acquisition, the HR Helpdesk, Rewards and Recognition, and the Workday Human Resources Information System (HRIS). Our team is also responsible for ensuring safe and inspiring work facilities, internal communications to our employee population, external communications and branding efforts, and creating training and development opportunities for all employees.
One of our main goals is to recruit and retain a diverse and engaged workforce. Ultimately, we want Cognosante to be a great place to work for our employees. In support of this effort, we are excited to launch a survey later this Fall to gain a better understanding of how our employees feel about our corporate culture and working for Cognosante. We want to give our employees an opportunity to share their perspective—aligning directly with one our Cognosante VIPS values, sharing.
3. How do you define success in People Operations?
We pride ourselves on being a an easily accessible resource to employees, always available to answer questions and ensure a positive employment experience. If employees feel safe, supported, heard, encouraged, and empowered then People Operations has done its job.
4. Are there any success stories you can share?
Over the last two years, I have had many interesting and meaningful opportunities. The two that come to mind first are navigating the company through COVID-19 and launching our Lunch and Learn series. In mid-March, we decided to transition most of our employee population to remote working status due to the COVID-19 pandemic—a transition accomplished in less than one week. IT assisted employees with packing necessary equipment so that we could continue to support our customers, virtually. Employees made this transition with no disruption to our customers and it was an amazing team effort across the entire organization.
With the transition to remote working status, we needed a way to keep our employees engaged and connected, so we launched a weekly Lunch and Learn “virtual town hall” series. The early series focused on the potential challenges of working from home and provided tips on how to maintain high productivity while servicing our customers and balancing a completely new set of daily circumstances. We even hosted a live cooking demonstration and discussed healthy eating habits, complete with how-to exercises on work-breaks. Because remote work has become our new normal and our employees have settled into this new state, we shifted the Lunch and Learn focus to Cognosante programs and customers. In my opinion, this has been a wonderful and enlightening transition. Employees now have an opportunity to learn about Cognosante’s core capabilities, our extensive list of customers, and programs. This series has increased collaboration across the company which is phenomenal.
5. If you could describe Cognosante in one word, what would it be and why?
Unmatched. Every day, I am fortunate to see how Cognosante strives for not only excellence, but perfection. The level of detail and the standard of service we set for ourselves is unmatched among our peers and I am proud to be part of an employee population that strives for that level of success. It is inspiring, and I am honored to lead the People Operations function in support of that goal.
6. What is your favorite thing about working at Cognosante?
The Team. Cognosante has a very talented workforce. I love working with such smart and goal-oriented individuals. We challenge each other to think strategically and come up with creative solutions to solve our most complex problems. In my experience, a great example of The Team comes from working with the Employee Engagement Committee, group that comprises employee representation from Cognosante’s business units and corporate functions. Launched earlier this year, this committee has provided excellent recommendations for many of the company’s engagement initiatives like remote employee engagement, navigating the company through the national social unrest, and selecting topics for the Lunch and Learns.
7. What does leadership mean to you? What are one of your biggest strengths as a leader?
The are several cliché definitions for the word leadership. My definition of leadership is to create opportunities for my team that give them a chance to perform at their very best. There are five characteristics that are important to me as a leader. Those five things are communication, honesty, integrity, creativity, and having fun! I encourage open and honest communication across my entire team. It is important for me that my team feels they can share very candid feedback with each other but more importantly with me. I have an open-door policy and I encourage not only my People Operations team members but others across the company to share their ideas and thoughts. This is the only way we will continuously improve as individuals and as a company. Integrity is not negotiable for me. I believe we must approach every situation with strong moral and ethical convictions while doing what is right at every turn. Always being selfless and doing what is in the best interest of Cognosante will prevail every situation to success. Lastly, we have fun in the process. I believe a team that has fun together performs better. As they say, laughter is great for the soul!
8. What is one interesting fact about yourself?
One of my personal dreams has always been to work in television as an anchor woman. I did not pursue this dream as I felt the opportunities in television were limited and not necessarily a long-term career. Thus, I started my career in Human Resources. Hosting the Lunch and Learns each week makes me feel like I am working in television—it is almost like a dream come true and an opportunity I am grateful for!