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Coffee with Renee Fsadni

How do you provide HR support to 13 distinct business units? That’s a question that Renee Fsadni looks to answer on a daily basis as the HR manager of shared services at Masco. We recently sat down with her to talk about her position, challenges she has dealt with, the state of the HR industry, and much more!

Tell us about your role.

Masco is very decentralized, and so each of the 13 business units has its own HR department. It’s up to my team to manage a lot of key processes across all the businesses on their behalf. I oversee seven direct reports, and together we support employee benefits, payroll, and other employee-facing activities. We work very closely with HR by assisting with onboarding, self-service, and setting up Workday. I regularly go out to the various business units and figure out how we can help them achieve their goals, whether that’s putting a new administrative piece in place or shoring up a compliance matter.

Have you been in this same role all along, or did it evolve over time?

Some background: I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s in management. For 20 years, I was in payroll and worked my way to overseeing payroll and implementing new systems. I moved into this position, HR manager of shared services, about a year and a half ago. It’s a newer role for me, and it’s focused on more strategic work. Prior, there were the day-to-day responsibilities of running payroll and ensuring people get their checks. Now, I work with our 13 business units across our organization that’s always changing and implementing new technology. And one thing I’ve quickly learned in this role is that processes like forecasting are much more data driven. By moving away from manual activities, we can also better focus on tasks like applying the right laws in every state – there’s a lot of variance there to manage.

Would you say that keeping up with regulatory change is a fundamental challenge for Masco?

Absolutely. Tackling that challenge is a big part of my role. Masco being so decentralized adds an extra layer of complexity, though, because I don’t have total control across the whole organization, and it can be hard to get everyone to understand the importance of the information we’re sending them, such as updates on relevant regulations or technologies.

What is your favorite part of your job these days?

I like working with people and making a difference. I enjoy helping the various business units solve their particular problems. Each one is unique, so I have to be flexible enough to identify and really understand what’s important to them. Even though Masco is one company, there are so many different entities within it, and what works for one or two might not work for others. That, in turn, creates additional challenges in attempting to streamline and standardize workflows. So, one business unit might have benefits that terminate after 12 weeks, but another terminates after 26, so you might need a chart to keep all those differences straight.

How do you judge success in your role?

As I used to say in payroll, “no news is good news!” But in all seriousness, I judge success on how I’m helping the team seize growth opportunities and how we’re perceived as a value-add for the entire organization.

What advice would you give to someone who was just starting out?

Be open-minded and willing to change. Go out of your comfort zone. And if you’re becoming a manager, try to use your whole team and develop everyone’s capabilities so that they’re well rounded. I’ve found that trusting my team and delegating responsibilities to them – basically letting everyone “own” something – can really help in this regard. Doing so also lets me focus more on strategic projects, too.

How have you seen the overall industry change over the few years?

In the past, we were more of an administrative and transactional type of industry, but now we’ve become more analytical and focused on KPIs and metrics and telling stories with data. That means we’re also more attentive to the overall value we deliver and not just the transactional tasks we perform. As a result, we’ve become much more reliant on specialized technology, which also helps us manage the increase in new compliance and regulatory issues.

And how do you keep up with all the compliance changes?

I’m really into networking right now. I’m the vice president of our Detroit American Payroll Association local chapter and I’m also our statewide chairperson for the state of Michigan. I find that by getting involved with the organization, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel in each situation and can instead leverage the network and learn from people who’ve already seen similar issues. It helps me stay informed on big changes like the new W-4.

Overall, what’s the secret of your success? It sounds like a lot of it is making sure you’re always thinking of how to improve.

Right. I’ll also add: One of my former directors told me that sometimes you have to picture where you want to go and then work backward to where you currently are. That helps in working out a detailed plan.

What would be your ideal job, other than your current one?

Being a cruise director. It’d be a fun way to meet new people.

OK, last question: If you could have dinner with three people, who would you choose?

  1. President Trump – It would be interesting to know what he’s really like outside the media spotlight.
  2. Queen Elizabeth – I’ve been interested in her documentaries, and I think she’s a dynamic person.
  3. My best friend, Kelly – We’ve always been cheerleaders for each other.
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