A common thread through much of Jamila Taylor’s life has been her ability to create and seize great opportunities. It seems appropriate, then, that she is tasked with building and improving the HR operations in her new position at Guidehouse, a 2018 carve-out of the public sector from PricewaterhouseCoopers and, with the acquisition of Navigant, an innovative global “next generation” consulting firm that focuses on national and global “front page” matters.
Taylor joined Guidehouse in 2019 as the managing director and head of human resource operations. But her route to the company was somewhat circuitous. With several offers in hand, she made the decision to join Guidehouse because of the leadership, culture, and diverse and complex scope of work in a role created specifically for her.
Taylor’s knack for forging her own path dates back to her time in college at Michigan State University. There, the Illinois native custom-designed a well-integrated, multifaceted degree in interdisciplinary studies that aligned with her personal and career goals. She knew from experiences in high school that she wanted to go into the world of business—her father worked in HR for decades at General Mills, and that’s also where she had a high school internship working with a strong female HR professional whom she came to admire and emulate.
But an accounting class at Michigan State proved quite challenging. When aptitude tests confirmed her propensity for business, the career counselor encouraged her to shift gears and craft a different path by weaving together economics, psychology, and languages into her own degree program.
After earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State, she took an HR position with Eaton Corp. Not long after joining, however, her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Taylor quit her job, moved to Arizona to support and care for her parents, and joined an M&A team for a small fire protection and emergency medical services company, gaining invaluable M&A experience early in her career.
Taylor then secured a coveted leadership role at General Electric, where she worked across three different divisions—GE Supply, GE Transportation and GE Plastics—for about a decade. She then transitioned to Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation as a result of the GE Plastics divestiture. Thereafter, she moved to positions with Harris Healthcare Solutions and CACI, an IT company, where she successfully led the company through the largest HR transformation project in its history.
In 2019, she joined Guidehouse and was named partner and lead of the newly Enterprise Shared Services function later that same year.
Guidehouse appealed to her because the role provided her the opportunity to leverage and apply her diverse background and experiences in a “build” environment.
“I like to build and fix, solve problems, transform, and continuously advance the HR function,” she says. “From my first job interview to this day, one of the deciding factors for me has always been culture fit. Fit and the ability to bring your whole, authentic self to work is paramount for me.
“Guidehouse is a place where you can be true to yourself and feel appreciated and valued for your contributions and impact,” she adds.
Taylor worked with the new chief human resources officer to define an environmental vision that inspires employees to achieve their best every day.
“The organization has and continues to experience unprecedented change, and the HR operations team is on the forefront of this transformation, focused not only on basic HR capabilities that support the business strategy but forward-thinking capabilities that enable the business,” Taylor explains.
When the business carved out from PwC in May 2018, the team was tasked to stand up basic HR services and capabilities within forty-five days. “The team accomplished this with grace and most of all a lot of grit,” she says. “The challenge for me was to improve these HR services and further enhance, standardize, scale, optimize, and align to Guidehouse’s business strategy.”
In just eighteen months, Guidehouse established itself as a stand-alone operating entity and implemented new HR systems, business processes, and policies/procedures.
During this time, the business announced its intent to acquire Navigant. As a result, the team quickly redirected their efforts toward ensuring a successful integration following the deal close in October 2019. Taylor and others leveraged the foundational work accomplished and continued to seize opportunities that address the challenges of the new organization. “A collaborative spirit is key to making the integration work,” she says.
Along with collaboration, Taylor embodies a direct but empathetic leadership style. It’s also important for her to be involved and understand the projects her team works on.
“I strive to create a positive environment where my team believes they can succeed and that we’re in it together,” she explains. “If one of us has a misstep, we all do. I never ask them to do anything that I’m not willing to do. That breeds trust, dedication, and loyalty.”
Looking to the future at Guidehouse, Taylor highlights her determination and focus with a demanding list of initiatives: transform HRIS into a platform of engagement that is supported by management but driven by employees, redesign the total rewards model to offer value-based options, create operational efficiencies through payroll automation, design a talent acquisition strategy that addresses the dynamic talent landscape, and analyze business data through the lens of both a data scientist and the lens of a business leader.
“It’s a lot to deliver,” she acknowledges, “but the team is up for the challenge.”
Adaptalytics is proud to support Guidehouse and our other clients in assisting them achieve their HR analytics goals. Our data artisans turn data insights into actions for the human resources community by rapidly providing powerful and valuable decision tools in the areas of HRIS, people analytics, and compensation. www.adaptalytics.com