Meet Dave Ryan, Director of HR for Mel-O-Cream Donuts International, Inc. He is an avid blogger and board member of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. Dave’s blog, HR Official, is a play on his love of HR and refereeing hockey. Dave, or commonly known as @DavetheHRCzar, has been a longtime user and advocate of Sage. Recently, I had the chance to interview him for the Employer Solutions Blog and learn a little more about hockey, donuts, and human resources, a great mix!
Joseph Baird: So you are the Director of HR for Mel-O-Cream Donuts International. Can you tell us a little about your company and perhaps share an interesting HR story?
Dave Ryan: Sure can. Our core business at Mel-O-Cream is manufacturing bakery products primarily for the wholesale distribution to supermarket and bakery operations. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, you know those bakeries in grocery stores with big ovens and 60 year old ladies wearing hair nets? Well, some of those bakeries aren’t real, they are just for show and most of the products in the cases come from companies like Mel-O-Cream!
I’ve got a funny story that comes to mind, not about me at Mel-O-Cream, but about HR in general that was told to me from Mike Van Derhort of The Human Race Horses Blog. Mike got the name of his blog from when he was a regional HR manager in the Midwest. Every so often he would have to call a business unit of his in Kentucky and a sweet lady from HR would answer. In her drawn out Southern accent she’d say, “Hello, this is the human race-horses department.” She was saying resources but with that accent of hers it was hard to tell!
JB: Speaking of blogging, you’re very active in social media as well. What other HR blogs or bloggers do you follow?
DR: In addition to Mike’s blog, there are many others like Charlie Judy of HR Fishbowl, Ben Eubanks of UpstartHR, Tim Sackett of The Tim Sacket Project and Fistful of Talent, Trish McFarland of HR Ringleader, and Jay Kuhns of No Excuses HR. That’s just a short list too, I love reading everyone’s thoughts and ideas.
JB: What advice about recommended first steps would you give to an HR professional looking to get more involved in social media?
DR: I would say start with LinkedIn; if you’re not on there, first start with your personal profile and then make sure your company has a profile. The next step would be to create a Facebook account and then when you feel comfortable move to Twitter. Many people keep Facebook and Twitter for their personal network and LinkedIn for their professional network. I have adopted the philosophy that I am who I am, and it’s all the same. If you’re generally a good positive person, you should also have a positive image in social media too, no matter what network you’re on.
JB: Do you ever use some of your hockey refereeing skills to handle HR issues? Have you ever blogged about similarities between hockey and HR?
DR: Absolutely! That is the whole concept behind my blog because being a referee is dealing with people in a heated moment of passion and hockey sure is passionate. When you diffuse a situation where kids want to fight each other, it’s no different from working with employees in a shouting match.
I’ve got a funny story about passion that I wrote about in a post last winter called War Stories from the Ice Rink. At the start of each game, as a ref, you usually introduce yourself to the coaches because they have to sign the score sheet. I typically shake hands with them, wish them good luck and check their roster. At one game, when I was shaking the hand of a coach, he was pressing a pre-positioned object in my hand. As I let go, he said “It’s to make you sweeter.” As I looked down, I noticed a Tootsie Roll in my hand. I laughed and told him that was a good one. A little humor can go a long way; that’s sometimes true with managing people too.
JB: Does Mel-O-Cream use social media for recruiting?
DR: Yes, we have a Facebook page with over 1,700 fans. Here we post jobs and we have used LinkedIn and Twitter. A great piece of advice that I’ve implemented that I learned from Jennifer McClure is about LinkedIn. In our case, we have regional sales reps and sometimes it’s difficult to find sales people in other areas. What I’ve done was find the biggest group on LinkedIn in that region that was dedicated to sales professionals and posted links to jobs there. We don’t even have the recruiter package on LinkedIn but just by doing that, for free, I can expand the communication of the job to many other qualified candidates.
JB: In additional to social media, you’re active in SHRM with your local Illinois chapter and attend HR conferences each year. Do you have a conference you attend that is your favorite? Do you have a favorite speaker or presentation that you’ve heard lately?
I try to make it every year to the national SHRM leadership conference as well as IL SHRM. I’ve also had a great time the past few years at HR Revolution which is put on by a great group of HR professionals, I really like the “unconference” format. I will say, it is almost as social as it is informative and there are some really bright people leading the way. It is mentally stimulating to hang out with that crowd. A specific speaker I enjoy is Ryan Estis. He was the keynote at IL SHRM last year, he is a very talented and passionate young man.
JB: You’re also a Sage HRMS user, and quite a loyal one. Why have you stayed loyal to Sage?
DR: We’ve been using Sage HRMS since 1993, and we’ve found the product to be very robust; it stays current with our needs. I think it is a testament to what you guys do there. Sage HRMS isn’t rife with errors; it doesn’t crash; to a certain degree it is out of sight out of mind. It has been durable and we’ve stayed current with upgrades. I rarely call tech support, but when I do, I get my questions answered quickly. We’ve also coupled it with a few other Sage products so the integration really helps with other parts of the business.
JB: So we’ve had a lot of fun today, but now, the most important question; what is your favorite type of donut?
DR: Surprisingly, even working at a donut manufacturer, I don’t eat lot donuts. I do preach moderation though, and I think my favorite donut says a lot about my personality. I like a cake donut with white icing. Cake donuts are made from batter, rather than dough and they’re more like a pancake than bread. But the donut fits me; I’m just a plain vanilla type of guy.
JB: Dave, thanks so much for spending some time with us today. I really had a lot of fun and think readers will enjoy this post!