Fernan R. Cepero, PHR is VP of Human Resources for the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Fernan has also served as an Employee Development Manager for The Perrier Group of America where his responsibilities included recruiting, employee development and ensuring effective succession planning.
Prior to assuming this position he served as Human Resource and Employee Development Manager for Xerox. He was responsible for the creation and implementation of a People Development Strategy, wherein he developed and maintained a pool of management talent to meet the company’s long-term needs.
Fernan serves on the faculty at Medaille College and the University of Phoenix. He is Immediate Past President of the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (GVCSHRM) and serves as State Director of the New York State Society of Human Resource Management. He is also on the boards of the Ibero-American Action League, the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School, and is an active member of the Senior Human Resource Executive Forum of the Rochester Business Alliance.
He has an M.S. in Human Resource Development from Rochester Institute of Technology, an M.A. in Foreign Studies from the American University and a B.A. from Fordham University. Fernan maintains certifications from Mager Associates in Instructional Module Development & Criterion Referenced Instruction. He is certified to administer Consulting Psychologist Press, standardized psychological profiles including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), the Kirton Adaptation Innovation® instrument and is a certified consultant for The PROFILOR® instrument.
Fernan is also a Development Dimensions International (DDI) facilitator. Fernan enjoys photography and tending to his habitat (not yard), where he and his wife, Nannett, converted their yard into a wildlife sanctuary that has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat Program ®. Along with their daughter, Kari-Elyssa, they share their oasis with their dog, two American Longhair cats, several fish, hawks, blue heron, fox, and a variety of flora and fauna who call the habitat home.
Ques. You have been associated with YMCA for close to a decade now. How has it helped you evolve as an HR professional?
Ans. The first order of business that my CEO, George Romell, asked of me when I started in 2002 was to have our organization be considered to be the vanguard and best in class with respect to human resource management. I saw this as an invitation to be a strategic partner in the organization and I did not hesitate to take my seat at the table. My evolution as a human resource professional was congruent with the evolution and transformation of the YMCA of Greater Rochester in becoming an employer of choice. Each day at the YMCA is an opportunity for me to be the standard bearer for one of my favourite quotes from the book "HR Competencies" by Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Dani Johnson, Kurt Sandholts and Jon Younger:
“HR professionals who deliver value demonstrate HR competencies at the intersection of people and business. A failure to address both limits HR effectiveness.”
Ques. Please share your insight on the impact of technological advancements on the HR function.
Ans. Advances in information technology have certainly had direct impact on human resources shifting its focus from the transaction to the strategic.
“Paper pushing” is obsolete and a thing of the past with personnel documentation management, benefits administration, time management, and payroll management (to name a few) now being processed with seamless and automated tools.
New opportunities are on the horizon with both social media and cloud computing.
Ques. How difficult it is to foster ‘team spirit’ amongst employees when they all seem to be driven by a sense of competition all the time?
Ans. It is extremely difficult to foster team spirit if your leadership style is one that promotes internal competition. It stands to reason that a leader will rally team members and foster team spirit around the vision and mission of the organization.
As team members work together, their energies and talents fuse into synergy, which is a special kind of energy that moves your team. It is a combination of the drives, needs, motives, and vitality of the members. When all members are committed to the team and its vision - and when their individual needs and drives motivate them to work for the goals of the team - then the interactions of the team create synergy.
Synergy is what makes it possible to be a team and to do the work of the team. The importance of synergy to a team's effectiveness is obvious by looking at a group with poor or nonexistent synergy. Some members drag the team back with their negative energy. Other members, motivated to do well for a grade or a promotion, work themselves to a frazzle, do other people's work for them, and meet frustration at every turn. These members function as loose-knit individuals, not as a team.
Effective teams assess and capitalize on the unique skills, knowledge, experience, and individual differences of each team member.
Ques. What are your views on 360 degree monitoring or performance feedback? Does it actually bring in transparency in work evaluation processes?
Ans. Both tools provide valuable data points in work and competency evaluation. A third that I would strongly recommend adding are employee satisfaction measurement results.
If used as standalone measurement tools the results will be 33% transparent. All three are required in order to have a well balanced and holistic evaluation of an individual and their impact on the organization.
Ques. What should ideally be included in the list of long term HR strategies for an organization?
Ques. How do you perceive the changes in the HR functionality that must have happened in the past few years? Is it for good or for bad?
Ans. The changes have been radical. In the past the human resource organization output, formally known as the ‘personnel department’, was 70-80% transactional work.
Today that is 15-20% transactional work with 80% of the human resource energies being harnessed into organization transformation, organizational development, and achieving business objectives.
The changes have certainly been for the better.
Ques. What could be the trend in the changing dynamics of the HR industry in the coming 5 years?
Ans. I believe that you will begin to see more legislative advocacy from human resource professionals. In the last two years human resources has seen an unprecedented level of legislation at both the federal and state levels that has impacted compensation & benefits including incentives, staffing management, labor relations, education, and training & development.
Compounded with a weak national and global economic outlook and an election that could be a game changer human resource professionals can longer afford to be on the sidelines and the shadows waiting for change to happen; that must be the catalysts, influence, and drivers for change.
Perhaps we shall see a human resource professional run for state or national office, maybe even the presidency, in the future!
Ques. What keeps you driven and motivated about working in this field?
Ans. The human resource profession is a personal calling for me. What motivates and drives me is the desire to see individuals and the organizations they support succeed. I get personal satisfaction when I see that happen and for me that equates to my success as a human resource professional.
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