Sharing Leadership Lessons in an interview with Bruce Waller…
10 Answers from HR Leaders that make a difference!
I once heard Sara Blakely, (CEO Spanx) say, “The more you experience in life, the more you have to offer others.” Today, I want for you to experience more by learning from some Super Stars serving in HR! I am inspired by people every day who model great leadership for others through their daily actions in human resources. These leaders have common threads that include empathy, love and care for people. They value people and the importance of relationship building.
In this HR Super Stars interview series, I want to introduce you to some of the best of the best in HR! These leaders make impact and will share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader and in their personal lives. My hope is each person will inspire you and challenge you to become more for others on your journey. So, let’s get started and meet our HR Superstars!
Today, we are going to hear from Kim Pisciotta, Director of Human Resources with Gemmy Industries Corporation. I met Kim several years ago while serving together on our leadership team as a DallasHR volunteer leader. Kim is a well-respected HR leader and has served in many volunteer roles which includes leading The HRSouthwest Conference as conference director for one of the largest HR conferences in the US. Kim has a great story about how she used DallasHR, one of the largest SHRM chapters in the US to meet her needs as an HR Professional. She calls it her lifeline! Kim continues to stay involved as a member of our strategy team and as a mentor for young professionals. I am excited and honored to share this interview with you so that you will also have a chance to get more connected with this month’s HR Superstar!
Now… let’s meet, Kim! _
Where did you grow up? I grew up in DeSoto, Texas, and am a very proud alumna of DeSoto High School, “Home of the Fighting Eagles.”
How did you get started in business/career? My senior year in High School, as I was getting ready for college, I thought I would major in Accounting, and even did an internship as a Bookkeeper for a local attorney balancing his books in a green ledger. (How’s that for going old-school?) But after making a couple of lane changes, through Drama and Psychology, I found myself getting on the Texpress of Human Resources. In other words, I had a true passion for people, and wanted a steady career, and when I learned about Human Resources, I knew I was in it for the long haul. I got my first exposure to HR providing support to Payroll as an Administrative Assistant in Accounting at Wyatt’ Cafeterias, Inc. My next job was as an Administration Specialist for Nissan Diesel America, where I really got to focus on growing in HR, while I wrapped up my degree in it.
Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader? The challenge that stands out most for me was not a pleasant one. It was in 2008 when the Great Recession hit. I was put to the task of putting together a plan and timeline to guide our executives and managers through a Lay-off process. It was a difficult process to even consider, but was necessary, and I realized it was then that the executives were turning to me for guidance on what needed to be considered and by when. It was a far from ideal situation, but it was an opportunity for me to present my value. Overall, things went smoothly, the objectives were met, and very importantly, dignity and respect were maintained. I’ve even been able to maintain some relationships through social media, or shared hugs in random visits in public bumping into someone.
What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose? I can’t put a specific date on it, but I’ve always been a “People Person” so any time I am able to help someone, I know I found my lane. Whether it be from making an impactful decision for improved benefits, to answering an expectant mother’s questions about FMLA so she can enjoy being a new Mommy, and even being referred to as a “Corporate Counselor”…when I can have a positive impact on any employee’s day, I know it was worth it, and am living my purpose. It’s why I’ve chosen to work for small businesses; so that what I have done has had bigger impacts on the bottom line.
What is your most valued achievement, and why? My most valued achievement was getting to serve as The HRSouthwest Conference’s 2016 Conference Director for its 75th Anniversary. WOW!! The wonderful people behind The Conference groomed me for this, and I was able to give back. They believed in me, helped me develop my leadership skills, exposed me to what it takes to make all aspects of The Conference successful, got me out of my “HR Bubble,” and then threw me the ball to run it in for touchdown. WOW!!! Talk about the opportunities for growth and development! All it took was an open mind, the willingness to learn, and commitment to execute. Every step of the way is a valued achievement.
Is there any one person who inspired or mentored you along the way? No…there are MANY people who have inspired me along the way!! Most every single one has come from the connections I’ve made through DallasHR or The HRSouthwest Conference. But the most influential person in my life, and I hate to sound cliché, was my Daddy. First, because he was a Christian and his Faith was strong. Every Sunday we were at church, unless we had a fever, or there was ice on the roads. Sometimes, it didn’t matter which church we attended as long as we attended. This taught me to be firm in my Faith, know what I believe in and why…and then truly live it, for then can we honestly be considered “genuine.” And it’s not just about being Christian. I have learned that no matter what your faith, the basic principles at the core of any religion are found in having mutual respect for others and a genuine desire to do good. Without Faith to guide us through Life, we can get lost in our beliefs. So Faith and being genuine is of prime importance. Second, he was a Veteran of the Navy. Anyone who serves in the military learn a lot of discipline, and a certain way of doing things. What that meant to me was a LOT of self-discipline and development of good and steady habits or routines. Self-discipline got me through school with honors. Self-discipline helped me be focused on growing in my career and getting and maintaining my certifications. Self-discipline got me into the habit of keeping a clean house. You get the gist. There is a LOT of success and happiness to be gained from practicing self-discipline. Lastly, upon being honorably discharged from the Navy, Daddy became a Juvenile Probation Officer for Dallas County and started fulfilling his purpose of helping people. He helped countless troubled youth get back on the right path to have a successful life, and a few even stayed in touch with him into their adulthood. Daddy believed in second chances and taught me that if someone has a genuine (there’s that word again!) desire to change for the better then if we can give them that, we should. Daddy was a Helper and he also wanted to put smiles on other’s faces. He was infectious at spreading smiles! So, yeah, it’s cliché, but I don’t care. It’s 100% true, and I was blessed to have him influence me for 40 great years.
Do you have a saying or creed that you live by? “Always know where your Lifelines are.” A lifeline is defined as “1. A line (such as a rope) used for saving or preserving life, or 2. Something regarded as indispensable for the maintaining or protection of life.” Merriam-Webster Having worked for businesses around 100 employees for my entire HR career has been great because my work is meaningful. However, I have never had an HR professional to report to and teach or show me the way things need to/should be done. I joined SHRM in 1998 to stay current on what was going on in the HR World, and as soon as I learned about DallasHR in 2003, I became a member. I wanted to grow my network and have a group of people that I could turn to and ask, “How does your company address this?” or “Do you have a policy you can share on this?” Now I have access to HRConnect through DallasHR, which is AWESOME!! But networking is still so essential because sometimes, you might have a specific situation that is really troubling you, and if you know the perfect person who might have the perfect solution that you can reach out to, then they might just “save your life!” So always know where your Lifelines are, because you never know when you’ll need it to save your life. I am very blessed to have many!!
What book(s) are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now? Right now, I’m reading Endurance, by Capt. Scott Kelly. It is very captivating, and really provides perspective on not taking the little things in life for granted, the importance of detail and procedures, and keeping calm in the most extreme of stressful situations. I only mention Endurance because I have already read Find Your Lane: Change Your GPS and Change Your Career by Bruce Waller. Seriously, this book is the total package. Even if you’re not looking to change jobs, this will help you to gain a fresh perspective and new joy for what you do. And when you change your approach, you change. This one is a must!
Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader? First, pray. No matter who or what you believe in, pray. Pray for the wisdom or courage to get you through the day. Pray for your loved ones. Pray to give thanks for all that you have. Years ago, a coworker and good friend told me “Don’t forget to say your ‘Thank you, Lord!’” That just stuck with me. So I have on my little bulletin board in my office, written on a sticky note “Thank you, Lord!” This way every day I start off at work with a reminder to be thankful for how blessed I am for such a great company to serve, doing what I love, and for wonderful people. Second, I end each day writing a journal entry in my copy of “Milemarkers”. I draw from the positives of the day, and enter them, and I find that leaves me going to bed in a good mood and waking up in a good mood. I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. It’s only 4 lines a day that I’m given, and if I can’t take the time to write four lines of my thoughts a day, then I know I need to work on my “me-time.” The inspirational quotes are great too!
What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey? Form those Lifelines so they’re in place when you need them. Believe in yourself. Challenge yourself. Then, give back and share everything you know with anyone who will listen, because you never know when you’ll be talking to the next great YOU!
Outstanding…Thanks for sharing your perspectives and letting us get to know you a little better, Kim!
Some of my takeaways include: Challenging times make us a better leader. Know how to create and develop lifelines in your career, it can make the difference. Leadership models the way. I just love the story of how Kim’s daddy modeled leadership for her and others in his path. This was super inspiring and I appreciate Kim sharing his story. Continue growing in your leadership through reading and journaling… Thanks for sharing Find Your Lane and Milemarkers! This absolutely made my day…. and lastly “believe” in yourself, and “challenge” yourself to get better every day!
Thank you again, Kim. You are an HR Superstar and inspiration to many because of the way you model leadership for others in the HR community! Your passion for people is real and inspiring my friend. Keep up the great work and most importantly, keep being YOU… The best is yet to come!
What are your takeaways? Please share in comments below and be sure to connect with Kim Pisciotta on LinkedIn. She will add value to your network and most importantly be your lifeline!
Congratulations, Kim Pisciotta! You make a difference!
This interview was submitted by Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP, Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. If you have questions, or would like to recommend someone to be featured in Bruce Waller’s HR Superstars Series, call