It surprised no one in Lisa George’s family that she chose to work in the business world. From a young age, George, now the chief human resources officer at Shearer’s Foods LLC, showed an interest in business—more specifically, her parents’ work. She recalls a time during her childhood when her father, who worked for Airstream at the time, was planning to make a presentation in front of the board. She watched her father think through the presentation carefully ahead of time, and she noticed how he felt after it had happened, knowing that he stuck the landing.
“I remember him coming back and being excited because it went really well,” George says. Her father’s growth opportunity was also a learning opportunity for her, since she loved to ask questions and chime in with discussions about her parents’ work. Both her mother and father encouraged her curiosity.
“My father said, ‘Hey, I think you’ve got good business acumen and that’s something you should think about pursuing.’ He was always very supportive in that way,” George says. Her mother, meanwhile, always emphasized the building blocks of character, like ethics, hard work, and honesty, that would later serve George in the workplace and throughout life.
“If my mom said anything, you knew it was 100 percent honest and sincere,” says George. “I also saw my mother help build a couple of businesses from scratch—it takes a lot of tenacity and risk tolerance to do that well.” The values that her parents modeled for her early in life became the pillars of her leadership philosophy in the workplace, where she emphasizes self-awareness, continuous growth, and high performance to this day.
George received her undergraduate degree in marketing from the Ohio State University and began her career in an operations role at Sherwin-Williams. Though she had a positive experience at the company, George realized her talents and passion aligned more closely with human resources than with operations. Once she had that realization, the next step was getting credentialed and honing her expertise in a graduate program. She went back to Ohio State for a master’s degree in labor and human resources.
As she pursued her master’s, George enjoyed her first major opportunity for career growth: working as a recruiter at her father’s executive search firm.
“I resisted working with my father initially, because I wanted to go out and do my own thing and be independent,” George says with a laugh. “But then I thought, OK, I have the opportunity here to learn from a master. My father taught me how to recruit very successfully and also how to become a highly valued partner to our client companies.”
At the search firm, George put into practice one of the values she held most dear—learning. She came to understand how different companies assessed talent, and how unique company cultures and leadership styles affected those assessments.
Her next career milestone came when she went to work for L Brands, where she started as a recruiter and, over the course of her time at the company, filled three different HR generalist roles. Having in-depth exposure to many different facets of the company gave George the opportunity to help develop her three pillars—self-awareness, growth, and high performance—in different types of employees, from IT to accounting to fashion design. In particular, her work as an HR generalist in the distribution center stands out in her mind.
“I have such a passion for teams in manufacturing, distribution centers, and the supply chain in general because my first generalist role was in the distribution center for L Brands,” she says. “These are the people who make things happen for the customer, and their engagement is so important.”
In her next role, as vice president of human resources at Cardinal Health, George partnered with leadership to design and build a complete cultural transformation that rewarded innovation. In the space of two years, George and the Cardinal leadership team ensured that Cardinal employees had the necessary training and opportunities to introduce cutting-edge ideas for the health care space. The transformation also included a sponsorship initiative focused on diverse talent to reinforce the company’s already strong hiring and talent-development practices.
Today, George leads the HR function at Shearer’s, a leading comanufacturer and private-label supplier of salty snacks in North America and the world’s largest manufacturer of kettle potato chips. The company has about five thousand associates working in sites across the United States and in Canada.
Starting in this role in June 2018, George is back in the manufacturing world she loves.
“Shearer’s is a great place for people to build great careers as the organization continues to grow,” George says. “Our associates make all the difference, so it is critical to cultivate self-awareness, learning, and growth in people throughout the organization.”
To encourage self-awareness, George makes sure that company leaders talk with high-performing associates throughout the year regarding performance, development, and career progression. These conversations encourage associates to better understand what they do well and where there’s room for improvement and growth.
“It is critical to cultivate self-awareness, learning, and growth in people throughout the organization.”
“Our associates are committed to making high-quality products for our customers, who serve global retailers reaching customers around the world,” George notes. “We consider this a big responsibility, so we examine our own work carefully and continuously look for ways to improve.”
George ensures that associates have ample opportunity to learn new skills, whether they want to move up or grow in their roles. If associates have their eye on another role at the company, they may have the option to shadow someone in that position to gain a greater understanding. A formal training program also offers a valuable chance to learn: in November 2018, her team launched a core skills training that helps associates polish their managerial and supervisory skills.
“When you’ve got really great front-line leadership, the interactions that they have with the associates are much better, and they’re better able to help other people grow their careers as well,” George notes.
Finally, George ensures that employees have the chance to grow professionally. She and her team help create development plans for high-performing individuals and hold leadership accountable for implementing them. This approach gives employees hope about their futures at the company. Shearer’s is currently expanding, proving that employees’ career growth benefits the company’s overall growth.
George’s passion for the HR function and the meaningful conversations she has every day make her a bit like her father was during her childhood. Now, she has two sons of her own—her younger son is taking after her and studying business in college, and her older son is an actor and entrepreneur. Though time will tell as to whether there will be three generations of HR experts, both share the family’s drive to learn and grow.
Throughout her longstanding career, Lisa George has built strong teams and partnerships. The Karcher Group is proud to be part of her legacy with a shared commitment to doing better together. Learn about our digital-first approach to integrated marketing at TKG.com.