Oct. 19, 2022 - Winsted recently sat down with Carrie Berran, Winsted's Vice President of Human Resources, who shared her thoughts on her first six months at the company.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to join Winsted.
A: My background is actually in math and earlier in my career I worked in actuarial for a large health care company. It might be surprising that math skills cross over to HR, and we try to utilize data and metrics where it makes sense, even in human resources!
After my actuarial role, I took some time off to raise my children. I was very involved in coaching my kids teams and in leadership positions within local sports organizations during that time. Because of these experiences, I was hired by a company to set up their new HR department. It was a baptism by fire and a bit of a trial for both me and the company to see if it was a fit, but I knew pretty quickly that was the job for me. There was a lot of learning, but was mentored, worked with great people, and got a lot of support in my new career.
After six years, I had built up the HR function of that company, and a connection suggested a possible opening at Winsted. Winsted didn't have a dedicated HR person at that time either, so I was fortunate to get to build an HR department again. Today I oversee recruiting, hiring, performance management, compensation, employee relations and compliance. Winsted values our team above all, so as the HR leader I also play a role on the executive team and can bring the HR perspective to the table.
On the personal side, I live in Inver Grove Heights and I enjoy sports and spending time with family, friends and our new puppy.
Q: Tell me about the people of Winsted.
A: My experience with the team began before I even started working at Winsted. When I was in the application process, I asked if I could interview with team members at all levels – not just management. I wanted to learn about Winsted from a cross section of the company . . . because once I'm here, they all become my people!
One of my first priorities was to meet with every person in the company. It was great to meet everyone on a personal level, learn about their role and discover what challenges and opportunities they see. A fun project that came from those meetings was utilizing what I learned from the team to rewrite our core values: customer first, innovation, quality and teamwork. I heard those concepts from my team members over and over again! My interest as the HR leader for this project was to learn from the experts performing their roles throughout the company and then help to define how we fit that together a little more formally.
After talking with everybody, I knew there was an opportunity here for me to make a big difference. When you're building a function from the ground up, you're contributing in a big way, and I wanted to use that to help people enjoy their jobs even more. We all spend a lot of time at work – as an HR leader, I want people to have rewarding experiences.
We really have an amazing team – hardworking, extremely dedicated, knowledgeable and we like to have fun together too! The team varies from someone who just started a month ago to someone who just celebrated 40 years with Winsted. It says something about the culture of the company to have team members who have been with us for that long.
Q: What's next for you at the company?
A: Another common thread that came up in talking with the team was the desire to grow: to grow the company and to grow the people along with it.
Our company goal is making operators' jobs easier in the mission-critical space, so there is opportunity to expand our products into other verticals than we are currently engaged with and help even more operators and industries. We are putting together the structure and team within the company to expand into these verticals in a meaningful and successful way.
And as for growing our people, it's critical to meeting our company goals. It's a priority to offer development opportunities to grow our team's skills to benefit them and the company. More training, education, job shadowing, tackling new challenges and other development opportunities help team members grow and improve. It's rewarding to see where team members' development plans can take them professionally and personally and know I played a part in that.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: This would actually be a personal accomplishment that relates to my journey to HR. I mentioned I do a lot of coaching, especially coaching basketball for athletes in elementary and middle school since I was in high school. In 2017, I was named the national Jr. NBA Coach of the Year. It was an amazing honor and definitely one of the high points of my life. It's been neat reflecting on how coaching all those years has helped me realize that HR is a great fit for me because it's about developing people and putting them in the right roles to make the team function at the highest level possible.