Nick Vollrath, CCP, GRP, CSCP, CEBS is a compensation and benefits leader with extensive consulting and corporate experience. He is currently the executive director of global compensation with Merck and a WorldatWork faculty member who participates on the Local Network Expert Council. Vollrath also is the past president of the New Jersey Compensation Association and remains an active board member.
What is the No. 1 career assist you received?
I was fortunate to work for a leader and mentor who believed in giving people an opportunity to take their careers in a different direction. After graduating college, I spent the first 15 years of my career in benefits. While at Siemens, I had the opportunity to move into compensation which broadened my skill set and opened a number of new career paths. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for the support and guidance of that leader.
What key career advice would you give to others?
Be willing to take risks and embrace change. By nature, people are risk-averse and prefer the comfort of what they know. Unfortunately, the concept of lifetime employment is long gone and the needs of organizations are constantly changing. In order to remain relevant, HR professionals need to evolve and grow. My advice would be to seek opportunities to broaden your skills and experiences. Seriously consider a lateral opportunity. While it may take a bit longer to reach the next level in the organization, longer term it could add significant value to your career.
What is something HR can’t live without?
The ability to listen and partner with the business to enable its success. At times, we all have jumped to a proposed solution without fully comprehending the issue. This can sometimes end up creating an “us” vs. “them” mentality. Years ago, I was given advice to not worry about knowing the solution to a problem. What’s more important is to ask the right questions. By probing and actively listening to the issue at hand, you can help the business come up with its own solution while at the same time showing you are committed to understanding its challenges.
What are two out-of-the-ordinary skills every rewards professional needs?
To effectively grow your career, it is critical to become an active learner and to work on building your network. When you are just starting out, taking WorldatWork’s certifica-tion classes can provide a firm foundation from which you can build your expertise. As you become more seasoned, staying current with changes in legislation and developments in the industry will ensure you remain relevant and add value to your organization. As for networking, I have found this to be one of the best ways to build your personal brand and to give back to the profession. Begin attending meetings at your local total rewards association. Not only will you learn about recent developments in the industry, but you will also increase the network of people you know. This network can assist you in your career and help you find candidates for open roles on your team. Taking the next step of actively participating on the board of your local association or by seeking volunteer opportunities with WorldatWork will increase the depth and breadth of your network even more.