This week our Women in Leadership spotlight shines on Carmen Kernek, AMS’ Vice President of Human Resources. Carmen joined AMS in October 2017. She possesses a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration and has over 25 years of human resources and organizational development experience in a variety of different industries, including fulfillment, retail, aerospace, manufacturing and payroll services.
Carmen’s expertise includes training, organizational development, talent management, leadership and management coaching, as well as creating and implementing policies and procedures. As AMS’ function leader for Human Resources on both coasts, Carmen is passionate about helping the company make the most of their resources and talents, as well as helping individuals reach their potential through growth, education and coaching.
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Thank you for being in the spotlight, Carmen, and for the interview. Our first question is regarding AMS’ hiring practices. AMS is well-known for hiring individuals with disabilities, homeless individuals, persons who have been incarcerated, at-risk youth, single mothers and others for whom gaining employment is a challenge. Have you seen significant challenges and/or significant rewards to AMS from our hiring practices?
AMS is part of the B Corp community, which continuously strives toward reducing inequality, lowering levels of poverty, a healthier environment, build stronger communities and the creation of high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By expanding the hiring pool to include many types of candidates from all walks of life and challenges, it solidifies our commitment to B Corp, and our commitment to our associates for equality and diversity. Our hiring practices make a positive impact in our work environment and on society.
As VP of Human Resources, do you find that AMS’ B Corp status and dedication to employee wellbeing attracts talent to the company?
Absolutely yes, especially within the past two years or so. Employee expectations are rapidly intensifying. Being a B Corp really clarifies our purpose – which includes a space where employees’ work is meaningful and has a positive impact to our community and the environment. Many candidates are unaware of what B Corp stands for and how different that makes us. We have the best job in Talent Acquisition, which involves teaching candidates not only about B Corp, but about how wonderful of an organization we are, offering learning opportunities, to include ESL, Advanced Leadership, Interview and Resume Writing Skills. We offer wonderful programs where we encourage all employees to participate. To mention a few – we have DE&I Training, Safety Committee, Green Team, Volunteer Committee and so much more!
Could you speak about your hopes for all women who are seeking to improve their incomes or careers or lives through advancement up the corporate ladder?
My hopes for all women who seek to improve their incomes and careers through advancement up the corporate ladder is that they do not let the fear of the unknown stop them from reaching for the things that they desire AND deserve. I have tried to live my adult life remembering eight powerful statements, which I will share, in the hopes that they are as helpful to other women as they are for me:
Believe in Yourself – believe you can, and you will
Stay Strong – Dream, Believe, Achieve
Never Give Up – a little progress each day adds up to big results
Be Grateful – a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles
Work Hard – good things come to those who hustle
Stay Humble – work hard in silence, let success make the noise
Be Kind – Kindness makes you the most beautiful
Keep Smiling – because of your smile, you make life more beautiful
AMS is a very diverse company, and we, like many, consider our diversity to be beneficial, providing a strong foundation and a great deal of talent. As the leader who oversees Human Resources, what do you see as the benefit of diversity for AMS?
A diverse workforce brings a wide variety of people with different perspectives, insights, education and skill, making it a breeding ground for smarter decisions being made as well as better opportunities for creativity and problem solving.
When you were considering accepting your position at AMS did our B Corporation values, diversity, community involvement, environmentalism and so forth play a role in your Yes decision?
At the time I was hired, we were not yet a certified B Corp, however… we had the culture of one, which quite honestly was very interesting to me as I had never worked for a company with such a dynamic, philanthropic, employee engaging culture. I truly believed that AMS was a wonderfully unique… Being different is awesome… AMS was my unicorn and I most certainly said yes and have enjoyed my unicorn ever since!!
You are in a position of being a mentor to women in leadership at AMS with training and guidance for potential leaders being your expertise. What have you experienced at AMS in mentoring leaders?
I feel that it is our responsibility, as mentors, to educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of female leaders with the core values, attitudes and skills that are the foundation of quality leadership. We have a wonderful grouping of strong women leaders who have chosen to guide, coach, support and be a role model to other up and coming leaders. I feel like I was very lucky as I personally have had the privilege of being mentored and have and will continue to mentor at AMS.
The reason we celebrate women in leadership is because women have historically been denied leadership roles. In your years of service in the corporate world have you faced challenges due to being woman, and if so, how have you overcome them?
I have been in the workforce since I was 14 years old. I am happy to say that things have changed so much, since those days. During the beginnings of my corporate life, there were some very significant inequalities that I can recall. I overcame them through sacrificing, hard work, demonstrating greatness every chance I got and remembering where I came from …. Humble beginnings.
Thank you for this wonderful interview Carmen Kernek, Vice President of Human Resources!!