Terry Krezmer serves as LDG’s vice president of human resources and is a member of the firm’s board of directors.
What were the circumstances when you first had an inkling that you might become a leader someday? I grew up in a very humble background in the Watsontown/Turbotville area. My father was a Navy veteran and furniture upholsterer, and my grandfather a brick worker. My father died when I was 13 and, as the eldest child, I had to take a leadership role in the family. So starting at a young age, my siblings learned that if there was an issue, they should “go to Terry.” It made me stronger as a person. I always wanted to read and ask questions, never stopped talking and always wanted to know “why.” I loved history and knowledge as a whole. My grandfather must have recognized something different in me because he always instilled that I’d go to college. It was never an option otherwise. When I graduated from college and began my career, one of the things he said to me was to “Never forget where you came from.” That’s why I believe I’m able to communicate and relate to all our employees, because I learned the hard way how to recognize all the facets facing an organization.
What inspires you as a leader? What do you enjoy most about the role? I enjoy sharing my work experiences with my team to help them through situations that we all face in HR. I try to be a mentor to my team and help them raise their performance. It’s never dull. Every time you think you’ve seen it all, something else comes up. One of my favorite quotes is from an Ohio State football coach: “If you can raise the level of effort and performance in those around you, you are officially a leader.”
It’s important that HR is seen as an integral part of LDG’s business. We can make a big impact by being aware of others’ needs, taking problems off their plates and delivering solutions. Day to day, I’m aware of what my team is doing, but I’m not a micro-manager. What works best is having a daily, open, honest discussion without being judgmental and using that process for teaching. If you provide that environment and people see that you walk the talk, it’s infectious. We try to laugh and make work fun. I’ve clearly given my team my expectations, make sure my door is always open, and invite them to come in and throw ideas by me. It’s “we,” not “I.”
Who has been your greatest inspiration and/or mentor? At one time I was an HR executive with a global manufacturer based in Switzerland. My boss, the senior vice president, was a great professional. He had a great way about him, and I wanted to emulate him, to be like him. I admired how he dealt with people. I enjoyed how he created a balanced environment for having fun and getting work done. His presence really was compelling. He instilled a high level of trust and loyalty. At one point, the company was confidentially planning some major decisions at the highest level with a major impact on the business. He was confident enough that he shared details with me ahead of time so that I was much better prepared when the decisions came down.
What are some of the more significant challenges/obstacles you’ve overcome along the way? How did you accomplish this? Early on, I was heavily involved in labor union negotiations and often was the only woman in the room. I had to make sure I was taken seriously. That came from preparation. I knew that union contract forward and backward. Later in my career, when my sons were young, another challenge was significant international travel, especially in Asia and South America. I was fortunate to have a very supportive husband, and my mother came to live in our home while I was away. One other thing I learned was how to be very flexible with my time, having telephone calls well into the evenings to accommodate others around the world, placing the burden on me rather than on them. The single common factor I’ve found in all cultures is that people want to be good employees and add value to the organization, although in certain cultures that is even more important. Another of my favorite quotes from an Ohio State football coach, Woody Hayes, is “We win with people.”
As a working mother, what values, techniques, or support systems have you used to achieve balance? What have been the trade-offs? My husband and I have been a team for nearly 30 years. We value our marriage and our sons extremely. They’re everything to us. Yes, I’ve occasionally had to miss one of my sons’ sporting events or a wedding anniversary, but knowing that I had the strong foundation with my family made it much easier to get over those bumps. Finding a career/position where one can find work-life balance and flexibility is key to managing work and home life.
As a new LDG board member, what value does the HR perspective bring to the overall governance of LDG? Having HR at the seat of decision-making is a true commitment from the board that human capital is important and that employees are LDG’s greatest asset. HR will have more of a voice of representation in the process of developing well-balanced strategies and governance decisions. We recently negotiated LDG’s employee benefit package renewal to identify potential enhancements and then presented recommendations to the board’s Compensation and Human Capital Committee. The board saw the benefit of our employees receiving these enhanced benefits.
What positions LDG as a successful recruiting organization to attract candidates? LDG provides tremendous opportunities for its people to grow and to personally benefit from employee ownership. LDG needs to continue to communicate to employees the long-term benefits of the ESOP. We also need to continue to communicate that LDG is growing – prefers to promote from within – and has a very flexible working environment.