Westchester's Wunderkinds: Chelsea Hogan, Manager, The People Department at Heineken USA

It may have been a fluke that brought Chelsea Hogan to Heineken USA five years ago, but the 27-year-old Bronxville resident believes it’s turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.

Ironically, Hogan was working toward her certification in drug and alcohol counseling during her senior year as a psychology major at Iona College when she was tapped by Heineken for a recruiting position. Instead of a conflict, she felt a connection. “I found Heineken USA to be one of the most socially responsible companies,” she says, noting the company’s longstanding commitment and policies to help prevent alcohol abuse and misuse. “I automatically fell in love with the company and the amazingly talented, passionate, and hard-working people. I realized this was where I needed to be—this was a team I wanted to be on.

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Hogan started in recruiting after joining Heineken, but quickly took on far more than her assigned responsibilities for what was then an understaffed department, amassing numerous awards along the way.

“I wanted to change the way employees looked at HR,” Hogan says. “Instead of being the person to call for basic personnel information, I wanted to be in the discussions, with a seat at the table, to help drive high-powered business decisions.” According to Maggie Timoney, senior vice president and chief people officer of Heineken USA, Hogan succeeded. “Before Chelsea moved into her generalist position, HR was viewed more as a back-office function—an area that simply provided personnel support to the business,” Timoney says. “HR is now seen as having a seat at the table for all key business issues.”

How did Hogan do it? “Purely through building relationships,” she says. “I was constantly getting on people’s calendars and advising them of the benefits of partnership.” As a result, the perception took a dramatic turn. “It’s energizing to see things come to life when the people strategy is aligned with the business strategy.”

Hogan remains driven by the unique challenges. “I never know what will be on my plate.”

—KO

Photo by Cathy Pinsky

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