Human Resources Awards Blog

3 Tips on Best HR Practices, From a Stevie Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, May 18, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

John Hovnanian, Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Chief Talent Officer at Williams Lea Americas, will Chair the final judging committee for the HR awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. (Final judging is now underway for the 2012 ABAs. 2012 winners will be announced at one of our two awards banquets: June 18th at the Marriott Marquis in New York City or September 17th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. Click here to order tickets.) Here we speak to human resource awards judge, John Hovnanian, about his top three tips for best practices in human resources.

HR Awards JudgeWhat are your top 3 tips on best practices in HR?

  1. HR is a business of people and should hold a significant place within an organization. At Williams Lea, we are not in the business of making widgets, we are a people business, and so HR plays a strategic role in the company.

  2. One of the most important functions of an HR department is to ensure that the company is a great place to work.   It should provide opportunities for employees—and therefore the organization—to grow.

  3. An HR department should have a set of values and goals that everyone can believe in and commit to. At Williams Lea, we have established five guiding principles:
  • We are one integrated, aligned team
  • We are students of the business
  • We foster a strong customer-service culture
  • We value our diversity and are respectful of each other
  • We balance the need to think things through and have a consensus as a department with the pace of the business

Do you have a favorite app?
I read The New York Times online every morning on my phone, which keeps me abreast of everything that’s happening in the world.  Apart from that, I use Map My Run, as I run at least three times a week. I bring my phone with me on the run and it plots my course and my time. It also records my workouts and is a great app for helping me keep fit.

Who inspires you as a leader and why?
John F. Kennedy set a vision in place that had a lasting effect. He put a stake in the ground at the beginning of a decade and declared that we would land a man on the moon—something that had never been done before—and he inspired an entire generation to achieve that goal.

When you’re not at the office, what are you up to?
My wife, Marylou, and I were married in November. At the weekend, we like to take my Harley-Davidson out for a long Sunday-afternoon ride through the country and find a nice place to stop for lunch. Or we’ll go for a hike with our dog, Phin. Marylou is a professional photographer, so she takes amazing pictures of our adventures.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Musician. In fact, I’ve been both a professional and semi-professional musician for 30 years. I play bass, rhythm, and lead guitar, and I sing. I’ve played in R&B bands, big horn bands, and rock bands. I’ve opened for bands like Blue Öyster Cult and The Marshall Tucker Band, and even played Woodstock in 1999. Currently, I’m in the process of recording a rock ’n’ roll jam album with a friend of mine. Our sound is along the lines of The Allman Brothers Band.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
The people. It’s the people who make a company and at Williams Lea everyone is working towards a common goal. There is an inherent lack of selfishness in everyone who works here that’s both exciting and infectious. The company works as a team.

About John Hovnanian:
John Hovnanian leads the Human Resources Department of Williams Lea Americas in New York. Prior to his current role, John spent several years at DHL serving as the Americas Region Vice President of Human Resources for DHL Global Forwarding (DGF), Vice President of Human Resources for North America, and as the Director of Human Resources for DHL Express. In addition to DHL, John has worked as an HR executive for several other major U.S. corporations, including The Hartford and Pitney Bowes. John holds a Master's degree in labor relations and HR management from the University of New Haven in Connecticut, and a Bachelor's degree in political science from the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz.

About Williams Lea:
The Williams Lea Group is a leading global business-process outsourcing (BPO) organization specializing in corporate-information solutions that re-engineer end-to-end business processes. By combining its expertise with the latest integrated technology, Williams Lea is able to develop solutions that transform the way organizations communicate and exchange their printed and electronic information. The Williams Lea Group employs approximately 10,500 staff around the globe, with key centers in EMEA, the Americas, and Asia Pacific. Williams Lea works with many of the world’s most respected brands in sectors such as financial services, retail, FMCG, telecoms, investment banking, automotive, pharmaceutical, professional services, and public sectors. For more information, visit

Tags: hr awards, human resource awards, John Hovnanian, Williams Lea, judging, American business awards