For our latest installment of the Employee Spotlight, we’re excited to sit down with Kate Shirk, Talent and Development Manager here at Fort Pitt Capital Group. Kate joined us 7 months ago as our first dedicated human resources professional and has hit the ground running. Her focus is on helping our team with “all things people,” including aligning our people and business goals, fostering and promoting our culture, consulting with senior management on strategic planning and talent management issues, and managing the employee experience during the employment life cycle. Keep reading to find out more about Kate!
What brought you to FPCG?
The opportunity to build a world-class HR function from the ground up is what drew me to Fort Pitt. Over my 14+ year career, I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of employee relations, recruitment, compensation, benefits administration, and HR compliance. And while I enjoy all those aspects, I’m most passionate about employee development, training, and retention. My role at Fort Pitt allows me the opportunity to focus on those areas. The primary mission of my position is to develop a formal training program for new employees, provide leadership and management training for existing employees, and transform the recruitment process into a first-rate talent acquisition program. We accomplished a lot in my first 6 months, and have ambitious plans to continue attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent needed to support Fort Pitt’s growth.
What is one project you are working on currently that stands out?
Right now, my focus is on two exciting projects: modernizing our recruitment process and establishing career paths. For the recruitment process, I’m implementing an applicant tracking system (ATS). Currently, we use email and spreadsheets to manage our job openings, which is very cumbersome and time-consuming! By using software, the administrative burden will almost disappear, which means we can focus on finding and hiring the best talent in a more meaningful and organized way. The other amazing project I’m working on is helping to define the career paths at Fort Pitt. Most people think of career progression as the traditional career ladder, even though most people don’t experience career movement in a straight upward line. Careers evolve in all directions – up, down, sideways – more like a lattice than a ladder. At Fort Pitt, we want to provide our staff with the ability to explore the various functions we offer from client service to back office to research and everything in between. Defined career paths are the first step toward engaging and retaining our people by allowing them to grow their careers as Fort Pitt grows.
What do you love most about working at FPCG?
Human Resources involves a lot of things. While my focus is employee development, talent management, and talent acquisition, as an HR Department of One, I’m responsible for all things people. This includes ensuring compliance with employment and labor laws. I love that the partners, and the entire firm, for that matter, understand the importance of HR compliance. Not having to overcome resistance to HR compliance makes the not-so-fun part of my job easier. I think this stems from the partners trusting me as an HR subject matter expert. I love that they listen to my opinions, take my recommendations seriously, and support the initiatives I champion.
What is something that people might not know about you?
Most everyone knows I read a lot. For Christmas and my birthday, I always ask for multiple books. I never want anything else! But what surprises people is that I can’t stand e-readers or tablets, and I don’t borrow books even though I’ll happily loan out my books. I only read physical books because I dog-ear pages and write my thoughts on the pages. That’s also the reason I don’t borrow books…anymore. People weren’t happy with me when I returned borrowed books all marked up. And people are often surprised to find out I hate seeing the movie before I’ve read the book. Books have more detail than their filmed counterparts, and I can read them on my time schedule in the comfort of my home. The problem is after I’ve read the book, I normally don’t bother to see the movie because the book is always better! For me, reading isn’t just about the story. Reading is about the words and the syntax. That’s probably why my favorite book is ‘P is for Pterodactyl* The worst alphabet book ever’ by Raj Haldar & Chris Carpenter and my favorite poem is ‘Nobody’ by Shel Silverstein from ‘A Light in the Attic’. The wordplay is phenomenal!