Interview #17 Yamilet Lucia Popp: "HR profession dominated by women because women are the perfect human service bee..."
Yamilet Lucia Popp

📌 Read the interview with Yamilet Lucia Popp to find out why the HR profession is dominated by women and why she doesn’t believe in experts.

According to as gender equality in the workplace becomes the standard instead of the exception, a number of careers that were once open only to men are now seeing more diverse demographics among their workers. Improved access to education and professional opportunities means that more and more women are now doctors, lawyers, politicians, and a whole slew of other professionals.

HR is known as a female-dominated field, which makes women more likely and men less likely to pursue a human resources career.

We continue to look for HR specialists from all over the world to find out and share with you interesting cases and thoughts about current topics in the HR field.

Today our guest is Yamilet Lucia Popp.

Yamilet Lucia Popp

Lucia tells about herself: "My passion: Coaching and Consulting for sustainable Change.

Change often comes about unforeseen and uncontrollable. Nevertheless, it represents an immanent part of our lives. Change always offers new perspectives with every turn it takes.

As a Change Coach or as an HR Interim Manager I love to facilitate these new perspectives. I support you to stay resilient and balanced, define your vision, empower your team and establish an organization that produces success."

HR quote

“In my consulting ethic, I connect philosophical-psychological approaches (focusing on personal vision, meaning and development) with sustainable, success oriented business management.

As a sparring partner, I offer new views and shatter known concepts, our private religions. I invite people to experiment and test ideas, re-think issues and open your mind for the secret sides of a self-constructed reality.”

AO: Nice to meet you, Lucia and welcome to AcademyOcean😊 Let’s start our interview and my first question will be about your first steps in the HR world.

Did you work somewhere before becoming an HR professional, why did you decide to become an HR?

L: I started in HR and I will end there (probably...)! Unless life has an even more exciting and fulfilling job for me in place, like managing a real estate empire. Just joking. Or not.

AO: Can you name three areas that you feel need the most improvement, based on your understanding of common HR practices?

L: One improvement area of HR is defining its own vision, mission, and core values – HR is always torn between legal, administrative focus, employee demands, and the business perspective. It‘s tough to maintain a footprint within the bigger picture of your company - but you have to in order not to get lost in the hamster wheel of outer requirements.

The second improvement area is to become an initiator and driver of change or the opposite – the angel that saves the DNA to maintain a sense of identity. We need wisdom in order to weigh the balance of change and continuity.

And finally, I believe that we as HR Leaders should learn to keep a clean house ourselves: Are we practicing what we preach to others? Are we open-minded, people-oriented and empowering leaders? Do we allow others to grow next to ourselves? Do we reflect and develop?

AO: Lucia, according to Namely’s HR Career Report, 71% of HR professionals are female. This overwhelming majority may be on the rise.

Why is the HR profession dominated by women?

L: Because men are too lazy and overwhelmed by complexity... No, just kidding. But seriously, speaking of myself, HR fits my abilities and various likes extraordinarily well: I get to combine my love for working with people, balance their different interests, and combine their ideas to bring something new into the world. 

I feel I am making a difference in tough times – it is a dream job as long as you can manage the dark side of operative overload, time pressure and thousand different requirements. Women are pre-destined, facilitating all these aspects, like a juggler. But they need to develop resilience to manage the dark sides. Otherwise, HR has the potential to burn out.

HR stats

AO: And what are the specifics of women in HR?

L: We should be careful about stereotypes, but it seems that women in HR are often the saviors for all big and little crises that a normal business day brings. Being an excellent, helpful service provider is definitely a strength but bears the risk of losing yourself. You also might lose a clear view of what actually is the right thing to do. 

We tend to prove to ourselves (and our bosses) that we can manage everything, show that we are competent and worthy to be recognized and rewarded – but sometimes asking for help (or appreciation, a raise, or or or...) is an even more powerful way. And sometimes we need to stand straight and say NO... and walk away. Some organizations don‘t deserve us... yet.

AO: Everything is changing so fast in our world, so I am sure the attitude of organizations will also change soon.

Lucia, there are so many honored HR leaders and professionals. Who do you think is the top 1 HR expert in the world and why?

L: I don’t believe in experts. They are often only good in marketing scientifically and theoretically not well-grounded concepts. These are "everyday-religions" – when you apply them without understanding deeper systemic relations and organizational dynamics; you will fail (as happened many times with the business partner concept). 

I see so many great HR Leaders who, as brave day-to-day practitioners, solve the riddles and ridicules of our business with innovative, charming wisdom. In my current engagement as an interim manager, I love reading weekly impulses from an HR Director of an international group – he is creating an atmosphere of calmness and honest reflection in a major change process. Awesome. 

If we want to develop HR, we have to start at the beginning: At the premises, e.g. of our Dasein, being-in-the-world and being with each other. From there, I can develop organizational concepts and define the potential of HR to influence the future and draw from the legacy.

AO: Very interesting point of view. Let’s talk about adaptation and training aspects.

How does the onboarding of new employees go into your company?

L: Working as an Interim Manager I remember a really awesome onboarding week for all internationally hired people in the German headquarters. The newbies were “infected“ and totally enthusiastic about the company afterward – they got home as ambassadors!

AO: And does your company has any interesting traditions and what is your favorite one?

L: Traditions... I am a change manager! Well, I do love team traditions, like baking cake before you go on vacation. And of course, celebrating success at summer or Christmas parties. I also appreciated small routines. For instance, once a managing director used to come up to my office to say goodbye for the day so that I knew he was out now. Every day! Once he forgot, I reminded him – a nice little joke, but kept a good relationship.

AO: Lucia, what employee training programs are there in your company?

L: I love my intrapreneurship program – it is so much fun to work with the high potentials, watch them grow, have their „aha“ experience when they start to resume accountability and increase their circle of influence! One participant resolved the conflict with his boss, and … after a while got her job… Not so lucky for the boss (maybe next time she should join such a program as well). 

AO: Has your company experienced switching to remote work? How did you prepare employees for such changes?

L: Corona swept us all in Home Office... and 90% of the time, it works quite well, only in difficult personal or business situations it is hard not to be able to meet in person. Or if you have never met before, it takes longer to get a sense of trust.

HR stats

AO: Yes, Home Office is our new reality and a global survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. found that 88% of business organization all over the world mandated or encouraged all their employees to work from home as the virus started to spread at exponential rates. Furthermore, about 97% of the organizations immediately canceled all work-related travel. 

Lucia, let’s talk about inspiration and development. What is the most valuable professional development advice you have ever gotten?

L: A sort of guru-coach once told me: "Train your perception!" I thought, ok, hmm, sure...Today, ten years later, I understand deeply how this is key to all development. But the starting point is YOU, perceiving what is going on within you, what you think and believe and how this results in how you feel and act. Then you can go out and start to see how other people create their pain and joy and even organizations live in certain patterns, sometimes healthy, sometimes dysfunctional. Amazing, going from blind to seeing more and more.

AO: Hmm, quite interesting guidance. Let’s finish our interview with an amusing question. What was the funniest/most unusual incident during your HR practice?

L: A participant in a training session about personality types described his boss going nuts, throwing the mousepad and keyboard around – everybody was totally shocked, but he just thought: "I better close the door – and how cool he has one of these wireless keyboards, I want one as well!" This guy was so cool – shatterproof!

AO: Hahaha, very "cute" boss 😅 Thank you, Lucie, for the interview. We wish you all the best in your career. Stay safe!

That's all for today, friends. See you at the next interview!

In case you would like to ask your own questions, write them down in the comments. Also, if you want to read an interview with a particular person, let us know.

Learn more about LMS 2.0 Platform for employee training.

Take care 😇

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