Atlanta Gear Works recently expanded its support staff by hiring its first human resources specialist, a new position created to meet its expanding HR needs, previously managed by the company’s chief financial officer. Gear Solutions had the opportunity to talk with Chelleigh (pronounced SHELL-ee) Cuddy and her plans for the company.
As Atlanta Gear Works’ first human resources specialist, what is your background in HR?
I was blessed with an amazing career through my first employer, a midsize software consulting firm, which allowed me continuous growth opportunity over the course of my 16-year tenure and ultimately settling into the HR generalist role. As an HR generalist, I managed our HRIS, onboarding, offboarding, training, PTO management, payroll administration, and benefits administration. From there, I continued to improve my skillset and knowledge base within the HR world through my time with a tech start-up and a well-known national banking company.
How did you see Atlanta Gear Works as a fit for you?
Atlanta Gear Works is a wonderful, family-oriented business, with leaders who pride themselves on the care they give their employees. When you see so many long-tenured employees, you know the backbone is a good one. But sometimes, a fresh set of eyes and ears can shed new light. As for me personally, as you can see from the variety of businesses I’ve been involved with, I thrive on learning and contributing in new environments. So, by hiring me, Atlanta Gear Works gets a fresh set of eyes and ears, and I get the opportunity to learn about the world of manufacturing.
In addition, I naturally operate with a strong analytical mindset and am always looking for ways to work smarter, not just harder. At Atlanta Gear Works, I’m surrounded by engineers and other very smart people working smarter and harder – and I think this personality trait of mine fits in with the best of them at Atlanta Gear Works.
What kind of learning curve have you needed to familiarize yourself with what Atlanta Gear Works does?
Having never worked in manufacturing, I’m having quite a learning curve. I’ve had to quickly learn a lot about the intricacies of the creation of gears and gearboxes and all that goes into it. The machinists and mechanics are incredibly smart and talented. I had no idea how delicate the process was and the myriad of steps that go into each and every unique part that we create. Part of working in a plant with such heavy machinery involves keeping everyone safe. So, there is a ton of safety training that I, myself, am having to learn, as well as teach others, and we’re fortunate in the many safety training opportunities the company gives us. The last thing we want is for someone to lose a digit, limb, or worse. Safety is our No. 1 priority.
What has most surprised you about the gearing industry and Atlanta Gear Works?
The industry is niche. By that, I mean, it’s a world most people know nothing about. Because Atlanta Gear Works is a leader in its field and its services are much in demand, we’re growing. To continue delivering the high level of service our customers expect and deserve, we HAVE to hire – and we’re looking to hire skilled technicians with high standards. I was surprised by the difficulty of finding such talent. Luckily, I’m seeing great promise in some of our high school interns in our work-to-learn program.
What has been your primary mission since joining Atlanta Gear Works?
Along with learning the business, recruiting has been my priority, and I’ve jumped into it from Day 1. I’ve implemented an applicant tracking system that has drastically improved our organization and communication within the recruitment process. Naturally, we’re having to work through typical HR issues, as well. I’m also doing all I can to improve employee engagement and communication, because no matter how good we are at both of those, we can always do better. And, of course, I’m also looking at where we can improve benefits.
What long-term goals have you set for yourself and Atlanta Gear Works?
The most important thing to me is to ensure that the relationship between our leadership and every one of our teammates is prudent and mutually rewarding. I want to see our benefits rising to become the best in the industry for our area. Administratively, I would love to implement a more robust HRIS (human resources information system) that encompasses all facets of human resources and management of such. I cannot tell you the number of hours we could save just by improving that one subset.
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