Human Capital Leadership Award Winners Honored

By Nancy Davis and Beth Mirza Oct 15, 2007

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has announced the winners of its second annual Human Capital Leadership Awards, presented Oct. 11 during the SHRM Strategy Conference 2007 in Tampa, Fla.

One winner and two finalists were recognized in each of four categories. Each winner received a crystal trophy and complimentary registration to the conference. Representatives of the winning HR departments, as well as the HR professional who won the Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award, spoke briefly from the podium after accepting their awards.

The Competitive Workforce Award is presented to an HR department that recognizes and successfully responds to key workforce trends and needs in a changing economic climate in a way that directly impacts the organization’s long-term business objectives. Finalists were Accenture, based in Chicago, for the Accenture Solutions Delivery Academy. The technology consulting company developed a new certification program, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professional Education Programs. The Public Service Enterprise Group, of Newark, N.J., also was recognized, for its Energy Utility Technology Degree Program, developed to train new employees to take the place of the nearly 2,500 set to retire in the next five to seven years. Partnerships with community colleges and unions also have led to better recruitment.

The winner of the Competitive Workforce Award was Liverpool, headquartered in Mexico City. Liverpool is the largest chain of department stores in Mexico and is a leader in corporate education and training. To accommodate a large workforce in multiple regions of the country, Liverpool had to develop high-quality yet affordable training. The program boosts skills and grooms employees to become future company leaders. The company is now extending training services to external businesses. The success of the program, its costs savings and increase to net sales are attributed to the strategic vision of the HR department.

Liverpool Virtual University “represented an enormous investment for our company in developing our human capital,” said Luis Alejandro Mora, Liverpool’s director of human resources, accepting the award on behalf of the company’s 33,000 employees. Liverpool gained approval for this program from the country’s Department of Education and seeks to educate company leaders, employees and their families by offering elementary, high school, vocational and university degrees. As a result of this program, “Employees say, ‘Liverpool is part of my life,” he reported. “This recognition is for our employees. Remember, people move the world.”

The Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award is presented to a senior HR professional who is a leading force and an effective partner in executing organizational strategy that directly affects the company’s performance and prominence. Finalists were Brigadier Gen. Russell L. Frutiger, senior HR executive for the United States Army in Europe, and Jill Ragsdale, vice president of HR for Sutter Health in Sacramento, Calif. Frutiger was recognized for cultivating a proactive culture and for his innovative leadership. Some of his programs have been named best practices within the Army.

In 2006, he also accepted, on behalf of the U.S. Army in Europe, the first Innovative Business Solution Award during the 2006 Human Capital Leadership Awards. Ragsdale was honored for the wealth of workforce initiatives she has developed at her nonprofit organization, including a self-funded employee medical plan and a comprehensive integrated disability management program.

Mark Fogel, SPHR, corporate vice president of HR at Leviton Manufacturing Corp. in Little Neck, N.Y., won the Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award. Fogel was recognized for his commitment to making HR a true strategic business partner by aligning HR with the corporation’s business initiatives that support top line goals. Responsible for 11,000 employees around the globe, Fogel fostered relationships with fellow executives to help make progressive changes in the HR department.

Fogel noted his employer’s transition from an “old-style” way of management to a strategic one that came from restructuring by a new president. “We came out of the starting gate fast, and the most critical part of the change was that we [in the human resources department] evolved to approach the business strategically.

“When that opportunity presents itself,” he concluded, “You have to grab it.”

The Innovative Business Solution Award is presented to an HR department that successfully develops a creative and ethical solution to a new or ongoing organizational challenge and demonstrates the bottom-line value of people strategies. Finalists included the City of Miami Beach in Florida for the “Working Together: One Team, One City” program, developed by the HR team to improve relations between the city’s management leaders and the five unions represented by the 2,000 employees. The campaign has helped strengthen senior management’s commitment to strong human capital practices. Tata Consultancy Services in Iselin, N.J., also received recognition for “iCALMS: Integrated Competency and Learning Management System”—online measurement and assessment tools that help the information technology company’s 89,000 employees compare the skills they have now with the jobs they want in the future. Hiring managers can also use the tool to fill open positions across the global organization.

The winner of the Innovative Business Solution Award was IBM, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., for “Blue Opportunities, an Innovative Approach to Career Development.” To help its 356,000 global employees share knowledge and skills, IBM created this employee-driven program to offer staff development opportunities without workers having to leave their hometowns. Employees can apply for stretch assignments, job shadow and share cross-divisional projects, all through the virtual workplace.

“I am in awe of the beauty of this award we’ve just won. This idea developed after an outcry from employees,” said Mary Ann Bopp, IBM manager of career development in East Fishkill, N.Y.

The career development department “was charged with how to address employees’ perception [of the need for training] and desire to get involved in opportunities to better themselves,” explained Yvette R. Thompson, IBM program manager for training and development in Research Triangle Park, N.C. “This program provides a framework [and helps] employees understand how to engage. As we’ve rolled it out throughout the business, employees have appreciated the opportunity to use this tool in addition to classroom training and e-learning. Because the world has changed so much, it’s important for employees to stay up to date. They don’t have to change their jobs while doing so.”

The Strategic HR Leadership Award is presented to an HR department that plays a key role in driving performance by leveraging organizational human capital and demonstrating how HR aligns with corporate strategic goals. The County of Santa Barbara in California and the Harley-Davidson Motor Co., based in Milwaukee, were finalists. Santa Barbara was honored for “The Leadership Project, Creating a Customer-Focused Organization,” an innovative classification, compensation and pay-for-performance system for the county’s leadership that also incorporates the county government’s values of accountability, customer focus and efficiency. Harley-Davidson was recognized for its program called “HR Edge: HR Employees Development Generating Excellence Program.”

The program engages new HR employees and provides continuing educational opportunities for existing HR staff through a series of live and virtual learning activities—all of which are in line with the company’s unique culture.

The winner of the Strategic HR Leadership Award is The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta, for its “Manifesto for Growth.” The manifesto is the company’s strategic initiative to reinvent itself and reinvigorate growth through the partnership of senior leaders and HR to support human capital management. The vision is “being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.”

Cynthia McCague, senior vice president of human resources, brought a bottle of Coke to the podium with her, saying, “I never leave home without it.”

McCague said, “This award is about the great people of The Coca-Cola Co. and their collective genius, commitment and resolve. The manifesto essentially is a roadmap that talks about the future, our values and mission and how we win in the marketplace. … The impact it has had on our business has been profound. Simply put, we’re starting to win again, we’re growing again and it’s a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best that they can be.” The manifesto was not “a product of outside consultants or fashioned by a few people in leadership roles; it was a product of employees from all over the world.”

Look for more coverage of the SHRM Human Capital Leadership Award winners in the November issue of HR Magazine. For more information on the awards, including how to apply for the 2008 awards, visit

Nancy Davis is editor for HR Magazine . Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News . She can be reached at

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