Leading Through Linking

Roger Casalengo’s HR strategy is helping build interdepartmental bridges to guide Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions’ employees toward a common goal.

Roger Casalengo, Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions Photo: Victor Leviste

Roger Casalengo didn’t waste any time when he arrived at Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions (CAES) in 2017. Day one was spent knocking out preliminary tasks: introducing himself to his new team, setting up computer passwords, tacking his name on the door of his office, and more. By day two, though, he was on the road. His mission was to absorb the culture of every CAES site and detect both the thriving aspects of the company and the areas that needed improvement.

On his expedition, he discovered that not everyone was on the same page regarding the ways to successfully advance the company; the HR goals were misaligned with its strategy. It was the hole in the system, and Casalengo knew he’d found the first big task of his job.

As the senior vice president of human resources, Casalengo was hired to unite the distinct parts of CAES by instilling strong, cross-departmental HR strategies. Following the model of any great team, Casalengo realized that working together was the best way to succeed. “Two years ago, we needed everybody in HR to pick up a shovel and start digging,” he recounts. “We needed to build something and build it fast. So, I incorporated every player within the HR function, regardless of pedigree, to help us build our HR strategy.”

The strategy Casalengo and his team devised is taking place over the span of three years. During this time, the HR department will focus on three main organizational changes: sophisticated technology to drive business decisions, a strong alignment with the business, and a career-alignment plan focusing on career paths for our employees at every level. The goal of these adjustments is to enable CAES to become a “more agile organization” while allowing employees to establish their own targets—and ultimately have something to strive toward in their work. With the foundation already in place, continued efforts in this direction will boost morale while streamlining operations.

External partners that Casalengo works with are seeing the value of this approach, too. “By modernizing their HR processes and technology, the CAES team has built a sustainable HR business practice and eliminated redundancies,” says Ann Blakely, human capital services principal at Baker Tilly.

“Roger takes an all-hands-on approach and shares the risk and reward across all of his HR partners, including his consulting partners,” adds Erin Hoefer, senior vice president of consulting services for Precept Group. “He recognizes the importance of a valuable benefits program on overall business performance and has integrated that into his strategy to advance the company.”

“This Career Alignment initiatives is going to advance our organization from a retention standpoint,” Casalengo says. “For the first time in our history, employees now have a career path that shows them how to get to the sector president role, if they want it. Attached to the career path is a learning and development path that will allow them to become the best they can be in their role or help them grow in the organization.”

“I want to see everyone in HR come to the table with a level of business knowledge and understanding to do their jobs well.”

Now, at press time, about twenty months into the three-year strategy, CAES is starting to see change within the function of and communication between each corporate department. But, linking these departments has been an entirely different feat.

Casalengo and his team created “micro teams,” made up of HR employees, within larger subtypes to “drive strategies in particular areas,” which helped “set the tone and direction for HR and linked the overall case strategy from a business perspective.” Building a bridge between HR and the business function was crucial to ensure that all of CAES was on the same wavelength. Luckily—thanks to his extensive experience in multiple HR disciplines, including five years in operational positions—Casalengo was able to contribute universal language for all aspects of business to unify each part of CAES.

“Having a broad operational experience helps me translate my HR strategy to leaders,” he says. “When you build the relationship with human resources and the business, and the business understands the value of what HR is delivering, you’re going to have a much better chance at success.”

By mending interdepartmental gaps at CAES, Casalengo is ultimately working toward strengthening the relevancy of the business’s operations for each division. Ultimately, “I want to see everyone in HR come to the table with a level of business knowledge and understanding to do their jobs well,” he says.

He enforces this by serving as a leader, a consultant, and a teacher. He says that while “most of his day is spent being a teacher, the key ingredient is knowing when to apply each platform.” Combining his assessment of each situation with a keen awareness of his audience, Casalengo recognizes that his leadership position requires many approaches to meet one common goal.

He’s also quick to credit both others in leadership and his external partners for their help in the effort. “The success our HR team has had in such a short time is due to the support of our sector president and the leaders at CAES,” he says. “In addition, our partners and vendors have been an integral part of our success as well.”

With the light now shining at the end of a three-year tunnel, Casalengo is continuing to look for new ways to improve as a leader. He’s exploring how exactly he can adequately model the behavior he expects from his team, and how he can channel innovation within his work every day.

“Anybody that steps into the role of leader is obligated to lead,” Casalengo says. “The more genuine and authentic I can be with my leaders, team, and employees, the better transparency we have as an organization—the better credibility and relationship building we create between departments. That’s what drives me: discovering how I can be better than I was the day before.”

Precept Group is the industry leader in innovative employee benefits solutions. Our in-house experts deliver health & welfare plan consulting, financial and health risk management, as well as investment and retirement plan expertise that help our clients outperform national trends. Our experienced consultants and robust service teams deliver outstanding support, help lower overall labor costs, and enable our clients to create a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. Attract with Benefits, Retain with Health, Retire with Confidence.

Baker Tilly congratulates Roger Casalengo on his accomplishments, and we are proud to continue working with the CAES team to implement their HR strategy. We share CAES’s commitment to organizational change and partner with each of our clients to optimize and streamline processes to maximize their capabilities in the cloud.