Profiles from the Field
Steven Kortick, Ph.D
Executive Director, Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness, Wyeth
After completing a B.A. at Hofstra with a major in Psychology and minor in Communications, Steve obtained a Masters in I/O Psychology at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He obtained a doctorate in I/O Psychology from Alliant International University in San Diego, California and subsequently finished an Executive Education Certification from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
When asked about some of the formative experiences in his career, Steve cited several:
After completing his graduate education, Steve was an intern at Sunoco, where he was exposed to, and involved in, a large-scale culture change effort. This enabled him to observe not only how change impacts the way people behaved, how leaders acted and the manner in which decisions were made, but also the impact that change can have on productivity if leaders are not prepared to help employees refocus on the business. Moving beyond the theories and best practices he learned in grad school, Steve began to appreciate the complexities of how “change” plays out in real business settings.
As an Associate Director of Leadership Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Steve expanded his repertoire to include: (1) Consulting with line leaders on implementing strategies that align people, processes and structure with the business’s strategic direction; (2) Developing and implementing company-wide strategies, processes and tools for selecting, developing and retaining diverse talent; and (3) Ensuring leadership continuity and the deliberate development of diverse talent through an Accelerated Development Process (Talent Pool Management).
Since joining Wyeth a little more than seven years ago, Steve gained valuable experiences and learnings through several roles, of increasing responsibility, in different parts of the organization. Such roles included: Director of Leadership Development (Asia Pacific/Latin America), Director of Leadership Development (Europe/Middle East/Africa); Senior Director, HR Business Partner (US Commercial); Executive Director, Leadership & Organization Effectiveness (Corporate role ...with focus on Research and Development).
Steve cited his time as an HR Business Partner for three business units at Wyeth as particularly valuable in helping him to understand, first hand, how line leaders spend their time and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. As an HR Business Partner, he became an integral part of the leadership teams running the business and got closer to the impact of industry and market pressures. This in-depth perspective has enabled him to not only better diagnose the people, organizational, and cultural implications of such business challenges, but it also enabled him to ensure that HR solutions were simple, practical, and business relevant. He advises all HR and Talent Management leaders to gain experience as an HR Business Partner, or a comparable role that provides first hand experience in helping to run a piece of the business.
Profiling his current role
Steve outlined several key areas of responsibility he has had over the past couple of years in his current role, where he consults, and partners, with executive teams and HR Business Partners at Wyeth:
- Driving leadership effectiveness through the design & delivery of key “leadership programs” and “core practices”, including high potential Leadership Development Programs, the design and implementation of Development Centers, and through his on-going coaching engagements with team leaders.
- Building a deep, broad and diverse Leadership Pipeline through the creation of a Talent Strategy that strategically differentiates assessment and development practices to best align with short and long-term business priorities.
- Driving individual and organization performance through the design and implementation of core Talent Management practices.
- Driving organization transformation / business realignment by leading executive leadership teams in core approaches for realigning their business to successfully execute their 3-year strategy; and through the design, implementation and follow-up on Wyeth’s “Census” Employee Engagement Survey to define (and act on) key drivers of engagement.
- Ensuring the stability and productivity of the leaders and employees amidst uncertainty brought about by the pending acquisition by Pfizer.
When asked about the best part of the job, Steve indicated that he is energized by his ability to have a meaningful impact on business results through his efforts in building the required leadership and organizational capability. He also enjoys dealing with large-scale, complex change and helping line leaders understand how they can help their people navigate uncertainty and sustain productivity.
When asked about the worst part of the job, Steve described the frustration associated with initiatives becoming unnecessarily overly complex, impeding the ability to implement simple, practical and business relevant processes.
Advice Steve offered
Understand the business and the implications of the environment in which the business is operating. Position yourself as a business person....with a focus on strategic human resources. Ensure HR solutions are grounded in a thorough diagnostic of what it will take (from a work, process, structure, people and culture perspective) to execute business strategy in order to achieve desired results. For initiatives to be effective and valued by the business, they need to be simple, practical, and business relevant.
From the beginning stages of your career, Steve stresses the importance of building productive relationships and partnerships with people in various parts of the organization, including even stronger relationships with line managers with whom you support. In so doing, Steve highlights the importance of seeking to understand the business and how managers spend their time...and on how you can add significant value to help drive the success of the business.