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Talent Spotlight Series: Sr. Process Improvement Specialist

The Talent Spotlight Series is designed to put YOU or someone you know in the spotlight to help increase awareness about the various career opportunities available. If you are interested in being featured in the Talent Spotlight Series, please fill out this form.

Today we are talking with Drake George about his role as a Senior Process Improvement Specialist at Portland General Electric.

Drake and I met a few years ago when we both worked at adidas. At the time we partnered on many people-focused initiatives for employees based within North America. After I left to be an entrepreneur, Drake stepped into my role as a Project Manager. I loved working with Drake, and I was so glad he was able to step in when I decided to leave.

Drake is someone who has a knack for finding solutions, is tenacious in finding scalable options to solve problems, and is 100% a team player. I am so excited to see Drake grow in his skillset to improve processes and I can't wait to share his career journey with you all today! And I even learned something new about Drake (check out his fun fact at the bottom of this article) - I think I'm going to have to join you for a glass of pinot here soon!

Now let's learn more about Drake...

Name: Drake George

Current Position:

Senior Process Improvement Specialist at Portland General Electric

Time in Current Position: 1 Year+

Where Can You Connect with Drake?

Connect on LinkedIn!

What does a day in the life of a Senior Process Improvement Specialist look like?

I am in a unique position where I am currently resourced to support an internal Payroll project that will soon be wrapping up. In my first year at PGE, I was resourced to help support the newly rolled out Flexible Work Model which was entirely new territory for me.

Going forward, myself and a couple others will be forming the new “Employee Experience” team at PGE (within HR). More to come on what my day-to-day will be!

What roles did you have prior to your current role?

I have spent the last 6.5 years growing my career in HR. My first role (within HR) was with Anheuser-Busch as the HR Intern for 6 months while I wrapped up my final college courses. I helped support the day-to-day operations of the 9 distribution centers in Oregon.

I then accepted my first role with adidas as an HR Specialist which laid the foundation for my growth. From there I was promoted to the Team Lead of People Services and again to the Manager of People Services. My last role with adidas was as the HR Project Manager (I backfilled for Brandi!)

I largely consider myself to be a fixer, I love to partner on solutions and create real change employees can feel. Each one of these roles allowed me to gain experience in doing just that.

How did your experience in previous roles help you succeed in your current position?

I would consider my roles within HR Services to be employee-facing customer services. My time in these roles helped provide me with an employee lens for Corporate, Retail, and Distribution Center employees. The truth is different employee populations receive information differently and often have differing priorities. Anytime I am brought in to support a project or initiative, I ensure the employee experience is at the forefront of our minds.

Is there an area of expertise needed to succeed in your current role?

A good question, in my opinion, there is no training that can teach you the employee experience lens. Spending time supporting at a customer service level (in my opinion) was crucial to developing a mindset that asks, “What will an employee think?” Within HR, we tend to consider ourselves as people experts (which is often true). But the world has changed drastically these past few years, and asking employees directly, sourcing their input, and vetting change allows new programs, processes, etc. to be welcoming with less friction.

How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?

Given the changed landscape of work, I expect my role to constantly be shifting and shaping. The Employee Experience function is brand new, and many people have differing opinions on what we should prioritize and how we support work. I believe many companies are now thinking with an employee-centric mindset, and with that organizations will be challenged to break their normal offerings and take risks based on what the newest data/feedback is saying.

My role, as I see it, is to support the organization in taking chances and being tolerant of failures at times. Otherwise, we will continue to offer the same employee experiences and create new pitfalls for ourselves to work through.

How many hours do you work in a typical week?

In my current role, an average week is capped at 40 hours. I am adamant about not exceeding my normal 40 hours when possible. There are times when I need to flex my schedule due to a project deliverable, presentation prep, etc. But I have wonderful support from my leadership to adjust my time as needed to maintain balance.

This is something new I have practiced at PGE. In prior roles, I struggled to end the day at 5 pm and to not work on the weekend. This was not an expectation of Leadership, but rather a pressure I placed on myself. Upon reflection, I knew that work would always be there, and taking time to disconnect and recharge allows me to show up to work more effectively.

How did you find this career field?

To be honest, I stumbled into HR through my internship process. I had a coworker who had just wrapped up the same internship and she mentioned I should look into it if I had any interest in HR. At the time I was wrapping up my degree in Marketing + Management & Leadership. Very quickly into my internship, I knew I really enjoyed helping people. And helping people meant they were often able to do their job more effectively. And 6.5 years later I am still in the business of helping people. Now, I have a more strategic focus, but I ground myself in the experience of an employee which tends to act as my north star.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 to 10 years?

My goal within the next 5-10 years is to lead a function that focuses on strategy and/or operations. I have been a people leader in the past and it is quite fulfilling for me. I hope to use the next few years to continue growing in experience, learning outside of my own function, and developing my network. I can see my career continuing to grow within HR, but I am open to stepping into new territory.

What is something interesting about you that we wouldn't find listed on your resume?

My partner and I love wine!

We both work at wineries on the side for fun, as someone who works mostly from home it gets me out and about every now and then. We have a collection of 350+ bottles of wine.

We also named our dogs Pinot and Brie, they’re our perfect pairing!


Want to learn more about Drake??

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. There is a direct link at the top of the blog!

If you would like to be featured in the Talent Spotlight Series, please contact me here!

I would love to share your career journey!

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