By Margie Peterson
“Managing people is all about motivating and inspiring them to get the most out of their work to achieve your goals,” says Holly Helgerson Paul ’94, an evangelist for human resources management who is regularly featured in Fortune, Forbes, CNNMoney.com, and The Wall Street Journal.
Paul recently became chief human resources officer at Vocus, a marketing software company in Beltsville, Md., with 1,500 employees.
She honed her human resources expertise at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) over an 18-year period, rising from accountant to managing director of human capital.
“Lafayette was absolutely the training ground for my career today,” says Paul, an anthropology and sociology graduate who also completed a concentration in accounting. She credits Rose Marie Bukics, Jones Professor of Economics, with teaching her that accounting is the fundamental basis of all business. “Rosie is just an absolutely phenomenal professor,” says Paul.
From Susan Niles, professor of anthropology, she learned lessons about what motivates people, which she first applied during three months in 1993 in a remote hamlet in the Republic of Chad helping villagers develop a community garden as part of a Peace Corps internship.
“People are motivated and inspired when they have a leader or supervisor who cares about them, looks out for their best interest, coaches them on a regular basis, sets high but not unrealistic goals, gives them leeway to work and make mistakes, and holds them accountable for the results,” she says.
Paul advises students to start building a network of people they know—keeping a log of neighbors, parents’ friends, and others they come in contact with through volunteering and work. This advice was included in a talk she gave for students as part of the Career Services’ “Special Speaker Series.”
“Use every interaction to get to know people more deeply, understand what they have done in their lives and companies they have worked with,” Paul says. “You are much more likely to get a business deal or land a job if you have a network contact that is helping to advocate for you or make a connection for you.”
William “Bill” Wagner ’89, now chief operating officer for LogMein in Boston, helped recruit Paul to Vocus when he was chief operating officer, and Karen Dolphin Heppler ’89 works with Paul as Vocus’ vice president of sales productivity.
Paul lives with her husband, William “Bill” Paul Jr. ’93, and their children, Quincy, 6, and Zoe, 9, in Bethesda, Md. Paul says she could not put in the long hours and keep up with her demanding travel schedule if it weren’t for her husband’s willingness to put her career first.
“Our kids love having a stay-at-home dad,” she says.