Meet Mike VanDervort

14 Nov

Meet Mike VanDervort. Mike is a human resource professional and the writer of the blog, The Human Race Horses. Mike is a volunteer leader for SHRM at the state and national level and current member of the SHRM Special Expertise panel on Labor Relations. Mike frequently speaks and writes about how social media is impacting the HR profession and tweets at the handle @MikeVanDervort.

Joey Baird, Sage:  We know you’re a frequent speaker, volunteer, you’re extremely active online, and in social media, but can you tell our readers what your day job is?

Michael VanDervort: Yes, I’m a corporate human resources strategist and specialist; I work primarily on our associate (employee) relations. I also dabble in industry research and look a lot at developing trends. My background is in manufacturing and logistics.

At my company, my social media role has evolved over the years. Because of my experience I was asked to help with its implementation, and it’s been a great project. Social media falls under our Public Affairs department, which works closely with Human Resources. We were tasked with creating an internal voice, one that we could respond to customers across networks and in our communities.

Social media is taking more of a presence in the workplace. What are your thoughts on the relationship between HR and social media?

The relationship has been very interesting the past three years or so especially. HR, rather than being an early adopter viewed social media as a risk. Now I think it has evolved, and many see it as a valuable communication channel. I really like that aspect because I think that is what HR does, convey the message, no matter how you communicate. In the beginning I couldn’t understand why HR wouldn’t want to use it. It’s really starting to become part of the culture now and getting more mainstream.

You’re pretty involved in the social sphere of human resources when it comes to live chats, live tweeting at conferences, and so on. What sparked your interest?

From a personal standpoint, I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. In 1991 the company I worked for funded a purchase program so employees could buy home PCs with low interest rates. It wasn’t because the employees needed to work from home; it was because the company cared about enhancing learning and development for its workforce. So I ended up buying that PC and then stumbled onto the Internet. I started looking at what HR was doing online; it was mostly tech companies in chat rooms and rudimentary job boards. Following that crowd, I bounced along, and it kind of dragged me into social when it presented itself. In 2006 a business colleague sent me an invitation to LinkedIn, and I joined.

You must get this question a lot but can HR and social media ever coexist peacefully?

In much of my speaking I talk about why HR needs to be in social not just because it’s “cool” but because it is useful. I don’t think HR practitioners think of it as the snake hiding behind their desk anymore.

What’s a fun fact about you (not HR related) that our readers may not know about you?

Actually, you wouldn’t know it from my presence online and the way I network but I’m an introvert. It has always been hard for me to “break the ice” with people, and social has really helped open up a dialogue for me.

We noticed you enjoy traveling. Do you have any exciting adventures planned?

Funny that you mention the travel, because I just got back from personal vacation to St. Augustine, Fl. We rented a pet-friendly condo, and my wife and I took our dogs and enjoyed the time at the beach.

I just got back from Dallas, for the People Report Best Practices Conference. So now I don’t have anymore travelling for 2012, but I did just get accepted to the LA SHRM State Conference next year, so that should be great!

Do you have any upcoming activities or work that you’d like our readers to know about?

Well, next month or so I’ll be writing a little about how the outcome of the election will affect HR. There are likely to be some changes with the NLRB and so on. Outside of that I’ll be contributing on a semiregular basis to I’m looking forward to 2013 and planning out new opportunities.

Thanks for your time, Mike!

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