Lynnette Heath: An Experienced HR Leader Who Makes an Impact

The 10 Most Influential HR Executives to Watch in 2022

Lynnette Heath is a prime example of what it means to be a supportive and influential HR leader. As Chief Human Resource Officer of nVent, she plays a pivotal role in the company’s growth and success story by leading a remarkable HR team that attracts, grows and retains top talent.

A lot of words can be used to describe Lynnette, including driven and executor. However, “supporter” is the word that best describes her these days as she feels immense joy helping her team develop, grow, and succeed. Lynnette loves what she does as an HR leader and loves being part of the business.

Comfortable in the Gray

Lynnette is “very comfortable in the gray,” which she said is critical because HR leaders are dealing with humans. “That means there’s going to be a lot that’s not scripted and a lot that’s unknown,” she says. “And I’m very comfortable in that area.” Lynnette enjoys solving problems and finding resolutions when challenges arise.

Another complex HR area in which Lynnette thrives is mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Whether it’s navigating through due diligence or creating strategies to successfully integrate an organization, Lynnette says she’s proud of the M&A work she’s done throughout her career.

Lynnette likes to understand the culture of an organization being acquired and the perspectives of the employees. She points out that there is a balance of keeping what makes them special and making sure they integrate into the new organization without diluting their uniqueness. Bringing two companies together requires a delicate balance, and that is something Lynnette enjoys doing. “I love doing it,” she says. “It’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed being part of growth organizations.”

Entering the HR Field

Lynnette is an experienced veteran of the HR industry. Her career has spanned over 30 years and she has been an HR professional for more than 25 years. However, early in her career, she wasn’t sure where her focus would be. An undergraduate degree holder in political science, Lynnette toyed with going to law school but pivoted to start a family. She went to work for a local utility company, starting in Customer Operations, and over time moved into Human Resources and has never looked back.

The work Lynnette was exposed to, sparked an interest that is still alive today. She worked during the day and went to school in the evenings to earn her Master’s degree in what was industrial relations at the time, from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.“That’s how I was able to start my HR career at the local utility, which is today called Excel Energy,” she says.

Lynnette started as an HR Assistant in Employee and Labor Relations, an area of HR that continues to be her first love. In Employee Relations, no two days are ever the same, she points out, adding that things are going to pop up, and then one has to navigate through particular challenges. “That was something I just really loved and gravitated to,” Lynnette says. “I might not have known early on when I went into HR how much I would enjoy it. I absolutely love it.”

Early in her career, Lynnette learned from her advisors, coaches, and mentors that learning the business is key to professional credibility; you must be able to not only speak the language of the business but truly understand the business drivers and know why they matter. “That was something I learned early on and tried to keep with me throughout my career,” she says.

Almost Five Years’ Journey with nVent

nVent connects and protects its customers with inventive electrical solutions. In December 2022, Lynnette will celebrate her five-year anniversary with nVent. During this time, she has made an impact in a variety of ways. She is especially proud of the progress facilitating and implementing inclusion and diversity programs.  This includes standing up eight employee resource groups (ERGs) in the company with 10 global chapters.

nVent also seeks feedback from its employees, regularly conducting engagement surveys. They also have shorter pulse surveys to make sure they’re hearing what’s on people’s minds. Lynnette points out “We act on the feedback we receive. One great example is how we’ve amped up what we’re doing from a recognition perspective.   Our people told us this was an area where we could improve and we listened. We launched a global platform where all employees could participate. We’ve received very positive feedback” In a global company, with a large manufacturing population, reaching every employee can be a challenge, but the nVent team does a great job of connecting. Lynnette’s team also works together to assess and benchmark how nVent is doing as an employer.

“We believe our culture is a differentiator,” Lynnette points out, adding they recently won a Great Place to Work award. “We’re also winning other awards,” she says. “This tells us we’re focusing on the right things from a cultural perspective. So, I’m very, very proud of how far we’ve come and believe our focus on our people and programs is felt and makes an impact.”

By enabling the use of analytics within the HR work, the team is much more data-driven than in the past. “We’ve upskilled the HR business partners to truly be business partners, and that’s made a difference in the role HR plays, which benefits the business as well as our HR professionals.” Lynnette says.

Work Culture at nVent

A few years ago, Lynnette and her team surveyed employees attending their global leadership meeting. About 100 of the company’s top leaders responded to questions about the culture at nVent.

The overwhelming response was that nVent was a results-oriented company that cared. “I think that’s absolutely who we are,” Lynnette points out. “We want to win, but we want to do it the right way, and our people really do matter.”

And saying people matter at nVent is more than checking the box. “People really do matter. We really feel it,” Lynnette comments. When she first joined the organization, she would travel to different locations, and employees would tell her they can feel the company’s focus on people.

“People matter to our CEO, our board of directors, and quite frankly, throughout the entire organization. It’s not just lip service. We mean it and want to make sure our leaders are really focusing on our people,” Lynnette says. “It’s our people that make us successful.”

Lynnette is proud of how safe they kept their people who were on-site during the pandemic and also those who were remote, when they started returning to the office. “We knew we could safely bring back our office employees because we had been keeping our on-site manufacturing and distribution employees safe throughout the pandemic,” she says.

Every Day at Work is Different

Lynnette does not have a typical workday. The day this interview was taken, Lynnette was attending monthly business review meetings for most of the day. Then, in between, she had a meeting with the HR technology team to discuss how they can continue to improve. After that, she had a meeting with a business leader, where they talked about what that team needed, and how could they better support them.

Lynnette points out that their strategies for retention vary by location. “When you think about production, it’s not even the same across the country in the U.S., let alone in other countries, right? It’s really specific,” she adds. For effective recruitment and retention strategies, she considers whether she may have to visit the location and spend time with business leaders. “So, I’m working on that, and on another given day, it’ll be planning with communications. How are we interacting with our teams? What are we doing differently?” They also are thinking about a different intranet platform to allow for more two-way communication.

Lynnette also spends time on other individual initiatives. For example, she serves as executive sponsor for the nVent Allies employee resource group – which works to advance nVent’s commitment to inclusion and diversity by building awareness and breaking down barriers to acceptance for LGBTQ+ employees. “If I look back a few months, there were a lot of conversations with teams of our allies as we marched for the first time in the Pride parade in Minneapolis. There was a lot of prep for that, and we were excited to do that,” she says.

Some days, she also holds meetings with the director of the talent acquisition team to discuss what they are doing differently, some of the constraints, and what they want to try differently in that area. “So, there’s not necessarily a given day that looks the same,” Lynnette says. “There are always different conversations, which is what I love about working in HR. It’s not as if I can say, here’s my set schedule, and I’m going to check off everything on my list, because some days I might get through two items that were on my list.”

Lynnette also says that it is part of her job to see how the HR team can help the business grow and make their employees know they matter and are valued. “That’s really at the core of what we do in our function, right?” she adds. “Letting our people know you matter, you are valued, we’re here to support you.”

“I feel incredibly fortunate because I love what I do. I really love what I do, so I could go on and on,” says Lynnette.

List of Achievements

Mergers and acquisitions result in the coming together of businesses whose cultures are often different from each other. “When you have a big M&A, it’s critical to make the business successful and to ensure the integration goes well,” Lynnette says. “I’ve been involved with the extremely challenging deals, and we were very successful. I’m very proud of that.”

She recalls that they did a lot of heavy lifting. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of work, and a lot of conversations with different leaders to bring them through it. “I’m very proud of the due diligence and integration work that I’ve done,” Lynnette adds.

Lynnette also enjoys developing future HR leaders. Somebody who worked for her in her previous company is the CHRO there today and is “wildly” successful. “I take some pride in having even a little bit of involvement in her development and being a part of that,” Lynnette says.

Developing people brings great joy to Lynnette.

Future Plans for the HR Team

Lynnette and her team have a lot of ideas about what they want to bring to nVent and its employees, how they can continue to offer development programs, and how they can continue to retain top talent. Lynnette believes they can continue to bolster the learning culture at nVent.

“There’s a lot more we can do by equipping our leaders with more robust people analytics, so they have the data they need to help their own organizations invest and grow and be successful,” says Lynnette. She also says they will continue to upskill their HR business partners so they can be the best partners they can be to their different leaders and the teams they support around the world. Lynnette strives to give them the best possible HR experiences.

“We’re going to continue to improve and to add value to the organization,” she adds.

Message to Aspiring HR Leaders

In her message to aspiring HR leaders, Lynnette says that one can reach the position of CHRO or become an HR leader from any level of the organization as she did. “It is about being open to trying something new or taking a risk,” she adds. Lynnette has taken risks.

During her tenure at GE, she was asked to help shape the culture of an acquired company to ensure it was in line with the GE culture. For that, she had to relocate her family. “That was a risk because I could have failed,” Lynnette says. Her family decided to take the opportunity, and she and her husband moved with their children.

Lynnette says she could have crashed and burned as it was a huge challenge and things were not easy. There were days when she would question herself, wondering whether her decision to move was right. But she learned that sometimes the hardest assignments are often where you learn the most.

“You gain mentors that maybe you wouldn’t have in the past because we can’t do it all ourselves,” Lynnette says. “You also gain so many skills that you’re able to call on in the future.”

“So, take those challenges,” Lynnette tells aspiring HR leaders. “Try to get uncomfortable.” She also says to be someone who raises their hand when a problem needs to be solved, even if they don’t have the answer. “These are things I really think will help grow your career, your experience level, and gain you credibility,” she adds.