HR2IT Trailblazer: Boeing’s Mylene Barizo
by Dan Roberts

Over the coming months, we’re going to profile the founding members of HR2IT, to introduce them to each other and our membership at large. We selected an amazing set of people for this core group, and we’re calling them HR2IT Trailblazers for a reason: They’re shaking up their practices, challenging assumptions, and transforming HR to be as dynamic and disruptive as the IT space itself. They are literally charting a new course for the HR profession, and we’re really excited to create a place to share ideas and discoveries.

We’re starting big, with one of the most dynamic personalities I’ve ever met in the HR realm: Mylene Barizo, Boeing’s IT Human Resources Director.

“Mylene is a burst of sunshine on the team,” says Boeing CIO Ted Colbert. “In addition to the energy she brings to the team, her leadership is about leveraging her skills and expertise to get to outcomes—and those outcomes are all about achieving our business objectives through our talented workforce.”

 

Mylene has held her current role for three years. Having risen from the ground floor of Enterprise Rent-A-Car to VP of HR for Enterprise Holdings, its parent company, Mylene brings a sales-and-marketing mindset and never hesitates to challenge the traditional practices of HR. (“She is relentless,” Ted says, “about tying our business objectives to our talent.”)

In a wide-ranging conversation, Mylene discussed what she learned in her previous roles, why she’s thrilled to be at the nexus of IT and human resources, and how she’s driving change in a transformational role.

Q: You started your career behind the counter at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location, rose to help pioneer a significant sales channel, and shifted to HR, where you continued to rise. How does that history shape you today as an HR business partner to IT?

I tell people all the time that I’ve been in HR most of my career, but my DNA is sales and marketing, profit and loss. The way I approach HR is from that sales and marketing, customer service perspective—a real end-user component that I’m very sensitive to, whether that “end user” is the new candidate coming in or my business partner here at Boeing. And I’m extremely sensitive to the P&L because that’s all I know. It’s how I was paid—in sales at Enterprise, if our profit dropped, my compensation dropped. So I look at the way we manage and leverage human capital toward increased profitability, asking, “How can we become revenue generating?”

Q: Continuing on that theme, even your personal development plan is branded. Can you tell us why it’s called “Up & Out”?

From an internal perspective, “Up & Out” means I’m leaving the execution of the HR functional work to my capable managers, and building deeper knowledge and awareness of the talent and projects within IT. From an external perspective, I need to improve my engagement with colleagues in the tech space so I can provide helpful benchmarking and broader access to what is happening in the market.

It all comes from the deeply rooted habits and practices of my former life. It’s something I pressed for, for myself and my team, because of the siloed approach Boeing has. One of my goofy analogies is that we’re all great at throwing pebbles into the water, but not at paying attention to how far the ripples go, and whether they move a lily pad, and whether that forces a frog to jump.

A lot of HR here is Boeing born and bred, with longtime processes that have always seemed to work. But the technology side, my side of the house, by definition disrupts itself all the time, so I want to find new ways to be more competitive in the talent marketplace.

Q: How do you see HR’s role changing, especially in relation to IT, in the era of digital transformation?

HR itself is going through digital transformation at many companies, and what’s happening is that HR not only wants a seat at the table—we want voting shares. We want to drive the conversation around improved business performance. And I feel I can be a bridge toward the future state of what we’re trying to build, which is much more consumer-centric.

I’m always blending the terminology of HR, customer service and IT. Everyone’s becoming a digital company, and everything I’ve observed about the digital space is user experience. What differentiates one application, one component, from another? It’s how the user is attracted to it and becomes connected to it, to the point that they can’t do without it. That, to me, is what a digital company has to do.

Q: Finally, talk a bit about what drew you to, and excites you about, HR2IT.

Because “Up & Out” includes improving engagement with the HR community outside Boeing, the opportunity to participate in this peer-to-peer community was perfectly timed! I’m excited about exploring the real culture shift in traditional HR toward the dynamic talent marketplace of the tech community.

Traditional HR practice is all about compliance. About being consistent, about finding a way to minimize risk. Which flies directly in the face of IT, where unless I take risks, I can’t build the next new disruption in the market, the next emergent revolution.

HR2IT can help people like me, who came from another side of the business, come together with folks who have a deeper background and education in traditional HR. And there’s value on both sides. How do we bring the theory and execution together in a space like IT, which is known for its self-disruption? IT is all about evolving and changing.

It’s a good thing Mylene has so much energy—she’s shaping talent in an IT department that’s 7,000 people strong, and she says they’re heading for 9,000. The company as a whole boasts more than 141,000 employees and sits at 27th on the Fortune 500. As she explores the nexus of traditional HR and the dynamic demands of IT, we’re looking forward to sharing the journey.

If you are interested in joining Mylene and other HR leaders in the HR2IT community please contact Jessica Taylor, Executive Director, at JTaylor@HR2IT.com.

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