Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Leaders – Kam Hutchinson

Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Leaders - Kam Hutchinson
Diversity and Inclusion
Female Leaders

In our ongoing series celebrating International Women’s Day and unraveling the journeys of exceptional women leaders, our next installment features a compelling conversation between Margaret Jaouadi and Kam Hutchinson, the Global Director of Talent Acquisition at Owens Corning. Together, they explore the critical role of mentors, the importance of fostering a supportive work environment, and the transformative power of curiosity and intentional networking.

Kam graciously shares the spotlight with several individuals who have played a pivotal role in shaping her leadership identity. Throughout this insightful discussion, Kam not only reflects on her professional journey but also spotlights remarkable women at Owens Corning actively shaping the landscape of their respective fields. They contribute not only to the essence of Owens Corning as a company but also embody its values and ethos.

Special thanks go to Paul Galanti, Head of Sector – Industrials, Americas at Pacific International Executive Search, who introduced Margaret to Kam Hutchinson.

Margaret Jaouadi
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about the scope of your role within the organization?

Kam Hutchinson
I’m Kam Hutchinson, and I currently hold the position of Global Director of Talent Acquisition at Owens Corning. Over the past two years here, my role has been deeply connected with talent across our enterprise. From devising strategies to attract top talent through social media and branding to ensuring their retention through robust development programs – it’s all part of the job.

In our sustainability report, available on our website, you’ll find insights into our commitment to internal promotions, with an impressive 75 to 85% of our roles being filled internally. This speaks volumes about our dedication to fostering growth within our team.

A crucial aspect of my role revolves around enhancing the overall candidate experience. I’m passionate about creating a process where candidates, regardless of their position in the hiring journey, feel our genuine care and commitment to their personal and professional development. I aim for an experience so positive that even if they don’t join us, they become advocates for our brand.

Reflecting on my journey into leadership, I’ve always seen myself as a leader, even in roles where I was an individual contributor. My approach has consistently been, “How can I help? How can I support?” I deem myself a servant leader where it’s not about me, it’s about others. This has propelled me into leadership roles, including my current one at Owens Corning.

What sets me apart is my curiosity, my ability to take feedback to learn and apply, and my love of developing people. It’s not just about personal growth; it’s about contributing to the growth of others and the organization as a whole.

Margaret Jaouadi
Reflecting on your career, have mentors or role models played a pivotal role in shaping your professional development? What advice would you give to others seeking mentorship?

Kam Hutchinson
My growth and development have been significantly shaped by the people around me. I’ve been fortunate to have a few individuals whom I continuously reach out to for advice, encouragement, and coaching. Lynanne Kunkel, the Chief HR Officer of Vale Resorts, and Anthony Cobb, the VP of HR, have been pivotal figures for me.

Internally, my manager, Jamie Trabbic, who holds the position of VP of Global Talent across the enterprise, along with Gina Brickley Beredo, our General Counsel, and Leah McGuire, the Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity at Owens Corning, have all been instrumental mentors. They’ve provided me with real-time, honest feedback and actionable insights that I can immediately apply. This, to me, is the essence of mentorship – not just receiving advice, but being challenged to think critically, make decisions, and then learn and grow from the experience. It’s an iterative process of seeking feedback, implementing changes, and repeating the cycle.

For those seeking a mentor or coach, I’d suggest finding someone with whom you can openly discuss your current projects and the impact you aim to achieve. Show that you’re actively working towards your goals, and when your actions align with your articulated vision, people are more inclined to offer their support. Additionally, demonstrating how they can contribute to your goals and strategy makes the mentorship dynamic more meaningful and beneficial.

Margaret Jaouadi
In my recent conversations, many of my interviewees mentioned that mentors go beyond just aiding in career progression. They are instrumental not only in professional development but also in shaping one’s personal growth. What are your thoughts on that?

Kam Hutchinson
I’m in complete agreement. It’s not just about advancing in your career – who you are as a person holds significant importance. The ability to bring your authentic self to any situation is crucial because, let’s face it, you carry yourself wherever you go.

Reflecting on my mentors, it extends beyond the realm of work. It’s about striving to be a better person in every aspect of life. What sets these mentors apart is their vulnerability and transparency. They share the challenges they grapple with, not solely limited to work-related matters.

I genuinely believe that being true to yourself, no matter where you are, is the key to becoming an outstanding leader, mentor, and friend. Life is interconnected, and everything flows through each facet. Therefore, the focus should be on personal growth, and that authenticity naturally shines through in your professional endeavors.

Margaret Jaouadi
How do you choose mentors?

Kam Hutchinson
I’m recognized for being a planner, and wherever I find myself, I’m constantly seeking opportunities to learn and develop. It’s never been my goal to be the smartest person in the room. That’s why I invest time in observing individuals whom I consider asking to be a mentor or a sponsor.

When evaluating potential mentors, I pay attention to how they engage with others, regardless of their position within the company. I look at how they handle challenging situations and manage the delicate balance of work and family life, especially if they have a family. Additionally, I closely examine how they communicate about life and people. Are they uplifting or tearing others down? Are they focused on building people up or solely on their personal growth?

These observations are crucial for me in identifying individuals who can contribute to my growth, and equally, individuals whom I believe I can support and enhance their journey as well.

Margaret Jaouadi
This year’s International Women’s Day campaign centers around investing in women, and accelerating progress, and, personally, it resonates with the idea that women in leadership positions often create space to bring other women to the table.

With that in mind, could you identify women within your organization or professional network who, while not yet holding a senior leadership position, deserve recognition for their noteworthy skills? What specific qualities or achievements make her stand out?

Kam Hutchinson
There are quite a few exceptional women to choose from, making it a tough decision. However, some individuals stand out for me, and I would like to acknowledge their contributions. These women include the entire Talent Acquisition team, Angela Loving, Phillisha White, Karen Stevens, Xiaomin Guo, Gail Manley, and Melva Holt.

What distinguishes them are specific qualities and achievements that set them apart. Firstly, their unwavering commitment to assisting everyone in their respective roles. Their curiosity, collaborative spirit, and ability to rise to challenges without losing their authentic selves are also noteworthy. Moreover, they possess the admirable quality of reflecting on and sharing their learnings, not only with me but with others as well.

These women exemplify a perspective that sees hurdles not as insurmountable barriers but as challenges that can be overcome through creative solutions. Their resilience and determination underscore that obstacles are not roadblocks but opportunities for growth and accomplishment.

Margaret Jaouadi
Drawing from your experience, what strategies or initiatives do you believe have proven most effective in fostering an environment where women can thrive, advance, and succeed in their careers?

Kam Hutchinson
The organizational environment hinges significantly on leadership, with the head of the company setting the tone. It’s not just about stating the importance of gender diversity but actively participating in events and activities for women, showcasing a genuine commitment to their well-being.

The existence of affinity groups or employee resource groups specifically for women provides a safe haven for connection, collaboration, and continuous learning. These groups play a crucial role in fostering a supportive community within the organization.

Taking on the role of being the person one wishes to have encountered earlier in their career is equally influential. By intentionally reaching out and connecting with others, this mindset contributes to a culture of mentorship and support that positively shapes the overall work environment.

Margaret Jaouadi
In your perspective, what are the three key actions that women can focus on to position themselves for senior-level leadership roles within their organizations?

Kam Hutchinson

Stay curious and actively seek out opportunities. Don’t just keep your head down and work; make sure you can articulate and share your accomplishments.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my mentors, Lynanne Kunkel, shared a concept with me during our time at the same company. She referred to it as the “PIE,” representing performance, influence, and exposure. According to this model, you need all three elements.

Performing well is crucial, but without exposure, others may not be aware of your achievements. Similarly, influencing others is valuable, but without solid performance, it lacks substance. Exposure alone isn’t enough – you need influence. So, excelling in performance, building influence, and cultivating a positive image with exposure are key elements that contribute to gaining influence.

Returning to the importance of curiosity, understanding a particular space, and being able to articulate your thoughts on it, share insights, and collaborate effectively with others are vital. Demonstrating the value for others in what you propose helps build influence, creating a dynamic where everyone can see the mutual benefits.

Margaret Jaouadi
Thank you very much, Kam, it’s been a pleasure.

Kam Hutchinson
Thank you for this opportunity to share. I appreciate it.

For a confidential chat about how Pacific International can assist you with your Chemicals and Process Industry Talent Acquisitions and Diversity challenges, please contact Sahar Akhtar or one of our Executive Search Consultants specialising in your sector.