Michele McCauley, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Principal at Apex, joins TheEdge to discuss how to successfully navigate change management (think: mergers and acquisitions) and her passion for and dedication to mentoring women in the industry. Having spent over 20 years with Apex, Michele has seen incredible changes within the organization itself and staffing as a whole.

Trusting Leadership Through Change

Apex is considered to be one of the darlings of the tech staffing industry and in 2012 was acquired by On Assignment. Much of Michele’s role at the time and even today was trying to maintain the Apex culture and brand while benefiting from the whole of the new organization and many brands. So, how did she do it?

Trust and transparency.

Michele fully believes that trust is gained through transparency and it’s the job of leaders to ensure that their employees are given honest and direct answers during any type of change management. By doing so, the foundation remains strong and the culture can be maintained, even improved. Michele says one of the most difficult challenges is figuring out how two cultures can work together, but clear communication and trust can go a long way in forging new bonds.

A Passion for Mentorship

Starting a women’s leadership program was an incredibly important initiative at Apex, Michele says, and thankfully, she was given the green light to create one from the ground up. What started out as a pilot group of 20 members has now grown to over 120 women. The program consists of things like monthly mentor calls, quarterly webinars, testimonials from past members and more. In fact, the program has become so popular that in 2019, there are plans to expand the program to the men at Apex as well.

As a mentor herself, Michele advises women not to be afraid to ask the tough questions and to get your hands dirty. She tells Leslie that her best piece of advice would be to, “Speak up and be willing to stretch, do things outside of your comfort zone that will help you learn and be ready when the time is right.” Listen in as Michele details more of her own experience in advocating for herself and asking the tough questions even when it felt impossible to do so.

Changing the Culture and the Conversation

Michele has been an outspoken advocate for providing support to employees returning from parental leave. As a parent herself, she understands the challenges new parents can face both at home and work as they enter a new chapter in their lives. Michele discusses the steps she’s helped put in place at Apex to ensure that employees have a smooth transition back to work and processes to finding a work-life balance.

She also focuses the conversation on the importance of changing the culture when it comes to parental leave. So often, companies forget to include new fathers into the mix, leaving an imbalance in place. Michele believes that organizations need to consider both parents when creating leave policies, and think of ways to provide resources they can lean on for help. Until these culture shifts happen, Michele believes, men and women will struggle to achieve any semblance of work-life balance.

Tune in to hear more about this important topic and why Michele believes a career in HR is one worth chasing.