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Bear Stearns' global head of human resources focuses on talent--and keeps her eyes on the market.
In 2006-07, Bear, Stearns & Co. hired more than 4,100 employees, growing its workforce to nearly 15,000. The global investment banking, securities trading and brokerage firm, with net revenue of $9.2 billion, was expanding its domestic and international business, in part with acquisitions.
Then last summer's credit crisis-- sparked by the sub-prime mortgage fallout-- began taking a toll. In November, a third wave of layoffs hit the company, bringing total jobs lost in all departments to 1,500, according to the Associated Press. In October, the company announced it was restructuring its mortgage business and partnering with Citic Securities, China's largest investment bank. Yet through all this, as Bear Stearns' senior managing director and global head of human resources in New York, Pamela "Pam" Kimmet patiently focuses on building a strong talent pool.
Kimmet leads a global team of about 160 full-time HR employees responsible for delivering all HR services. Since joining the company in March 2006, she has been restructuring and recruiting her HR team as well.
"We grow by acquiring smart people who can deliver for our clients," Kimmet says. The mortgage market meltdown and the collapse of two hedge funds make Kimmet's mission more pressing: Market conditions now call for focusing "on process improvement and restructuring actions to improve efficiency," she explains.
No wonder Kimmet keeps on her desk a flat-panel television tuned to a financial news network. "It's about really being agile and helping the business, which in this industry moves at lightning speed," she explains. "You also have to be viewed as a true partner."
Kimmet grew up in Rochester, N.Y. She wanted to be an attorney, but was also interested in government. At a high-school college night, Kimmet learned about Cornell's industrial and labor relations program, later visited the campus in Ithaca, N.Y., and was hooked. After college, she returned to her hometown to work for General Motors Corp. (GM).
Kimmet spent the first 14 years of her HR career with GM. In 1994, she joined Citicorp; the company merged with The Travelers Group to become Citigroup Inc. From 2000 to 2006, she worked at Lucent Technologies Inc. in Murray Hill, N.J., most of that time as senior vice president of HR. She met a range of challenges while serving these diverse industries, graduating from running specialty functions to managing entire departments. Today, she strives to bring the "functions together and to knit them into a cohesive strategy" while "advancing a broader HR agenda." Kimmet's longtime task has been to re-create the role of HR to address and guide business transformation. Her biggest challenge came at Lucent, where she oversaw a global workforce reduction of more than 70,000 employees--to a workforce of about 30,000--and reduced her HR team from more than 1,600 to about 275. In the midst of an unprecedented telecommunications downturn, Kimmet says she grew as an executive while part of a leadership team that restructured the company.
Patricia F. Russo, chief executive officer of Alcatel-Lucent, says Kimmet used dedication, energy and commitment to change the nature of the Lucent HR team. "She moved the organization from a transaction-oriented one to one that was much more strategically focused," says Russo, adding that the HR team helped other leaders "get the most from their employees."
Kimmet introduced a leadership competency program and strengthened the company's commitment to talent reviews. She instituted a tiered approach to HR functions, creating web access for employees to conduct self-service transactions such as address changes, and service centers to help employees with benefits. She enabled HR team members to earn certification.
Making a Difference
Until about a decade ago, Kimmet lived on New York's Upper East Side, but she and husband Dwaine now call Westchester County, N.Y., home. Working at Bear Stearns' New York headquarters provides her with opportunities to "give back" to the profession. For example, Kimmet volunteers on a handful of impressive business groups ranging from The Conference Board's Council on Executive Compensation to the board for the Center for Advanced Human Resources Study at Cornell. On any given day at Bear Stearns, she deals with recruiting, talent management, employee relations, compensation and benefits, training and HR operations, or attends weekly meetings of Bear Stearns' Operating Committee and President's Advisory Council.
On Oct. 17, 2007, Kimmet began her morning working with staff to plan a ceremony for Bear Stearns' "Great Weight Loss Challenge," a program that helps employees pare pounds and adopt healthier lifestyles. By midday, Kimmet was addressing some legal issues and later spent time on year-end compensation planning. "You get to help people on a one-on-one basis to solve problems and make a difference," she reflects. In her current position, Kimmet has traveled widely across the United States and to London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. "You build the best relationships when you can spend time with people face to face … understanding what their challenges are and really learning a bit about the world they're working in," she says.
Kimmet reports to Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Samuel Molinaro Jr., who calls her "extremely personable, approachable and a great professional" with technical competency and the ability to work with people to get things done. "Pam fully appreciates that our employees are our most important asset," he says.
Pamela Babcock is a freelance writer based in the New York City area.
Pamela 'Pam' Kimmet
Education: Master of Business Administration, Michigan State University, 1990; Bachelor of Science, Industrial and labor relations, Cornell University, 1980.
Current job: 2006-present, senior managing director, global head of human resources, Bear, Stearns & Co., New York.
Career: 2000-06, senior vice president of HR; vice president of compensation, benefits and health services; Lucent Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J. 1998-2000, vice president, director of compensation and benefits; vice president, director of compensation; Citigroup Inc., New York. 1994- 98, vice president, director of compensation; vice president of executive compensation; Citicorp, New York. 1990-94, director of executive compensation, manager of executive compensation, General Motors Corp. (GM), New York. 1989- 90, administrator, Truck & Bus Group, GM, Pontiac, Mich. 1986-89, manager, supervisor, staff assistant, College Relations, Personnel Administration & Development, GM, Detroit. 1980-84, division recruiting coordinator, coordinator of workers' compensation, salaried employee-in-training, GM Rochester Products Division, N.Y.
Personal: Age 49. Born in Rochester, N.Y. Married to Dwaine Kimmet.
Diversions: Cooking; reading mysteries; golf; anything Art Deco, particularly furniture; working out with personal trainer.
Connections: www.bearstearns.com, (212) 272-2000.
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