In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
MH: Coach Mary Ann Hauser
GG: Gwen Glover, Manager of Human Capital Development for KAO
MH: Tell me a little bit about what your company does and how long you have been doing it.
GG: I am the Manager of Human Capital Development, and I’ve been with the company for 21 years. I started as an Analytical Services Manager and then was asked in 2013 to head the Human Capital Development Department. We are a part of KAO Corporation, which is based in Tokyo, Japan. There are various business segments: people are most familiar with our consumer products like Jergens, Biore, Ban, and so on. In the Asian market we do a lot of cosmetics. We also produce components of cleaning supplies, and something called toner binder, which is a glue and allows the color and the toner to adhere to paper.
MH: Tell me about your target market and ideal customers.
GG: We market ourselves as a specialty chemical company, so we’re in a very niche market. One thing that’s unique about us is that we have the capability to customize our offerings for our customers because we’re experienced in working with hazardous chemicals that a lot of companies don’t want to work with.
MH: What has been the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
GG: I think COVID has forced us to think outside the box. We’re more of a traditional company; we never considered things like remote work before this. COVID-19 has forced us to make things work that we probably would not have pursued on our own. One thing that we did not have in place before the pandemic was any type of disease preparedness response plan. We’re a chemical company, so we had a chemical contingency plan, but we had never thought about disease. Because of COVID, we also came up with a “decision tree” for employees who weren’t feeling well or had family members who were sick. When we have a potential exposure within the company, the decision tree walks you through questions, and depending on your answer, it tells you what your response should be. That helped us to make sure our response was consistent, which gave employees confidence to know that we have a standard protocol.
MH: What would you say your biggest learning has been through this pandemic?
GG: The biggest learning is learning itself. Education is the best investment that you can make. We use our intranet to constantly educate our employees. We publish information with attachments that our employees can then download and share with their families about masks and safe cleaning protocols. Someone once said that education is a lifelong process and it doesn’t end in the classroom, so even in a pandemic, it’s a lifelong process.
MH: What is inspiring you the most these days?
GG: I heard a phrase once that sums it up: “obsess over value”. When I started out with KAO, I was the Analytical Services Manager, so my area of influence was very small, but I obsessed over adding value to that small group. Now in my current position in Human Capital Development, my scope of influence is large. I now have the power to obsess over value over a large group of people, even delivering value through the processes that we have put into place as a result of the pandemic. I now get to obsess over adding value in our communications, our customer service, the content and materials that we publish, and making connections. The education piece is a part of inspiring people, so I bring that with me to work every day. I think that is what inspires me today – the fact I can produce things that are of value to our 168 employees.
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