Melisa Cook is the Chief People Officer at Bennett Thrasher. She loves working with people, helping to advance Bennett Thrasher’s culture and being active with her family outside of work. We spoke to Melisa about what she enjoys most about her role and her work with Bennett Thrasher’s DE&I Committee.
What Do You Enjoy Most About Being in Human Resources Within Accounting and Financial Services?
In our industry, our product is our people, their unique abilities and continued development. I thrive when working with people, including helping our people grow and advocating for their future, so my role in leading human resources at such a people-first accounting and advisory firm is my dream job. Our leadership is focused on making sure our employees are given opportunities to continuously evolve their skills and abilities which ensures they develop and provide our clients with top-tier service. We are an organization where you can have a long-term career but can have many different roles. Best of all, you can work with clients of different industries or switch services while continuing to be employed at the same firm.
Our job in HR is about helping our people to set goals, focus on their individual development and continue progressing to their full potential throughout their careers. Doing so is fun, and it is energizing every single day. When our people are happy in their jobs, they are at their best for our clients and everyone achieves more.
How does BT’s People Team and DE&I Work Together to Cultivate the Firm’s Culture?
Diversity, equity and inclusion is woven into everything we do at BT and is at the heart of our employees’ experience at the firm. We have a strong foundation tied to a solid strategy, and I’m excited to see the momentum building across the firm. Our clearly-defined DE&I firm mission and goals ensure every decision we make aligns to these values. All Bennett Thrasher voices have an opportunity to be heard each day and we champion team members at all levels with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Our People team members work closely with partners and all employees in executing on the firm’s DE&I strategy, and everyone in our firm plays a role in creating a culture of belonging. The work that we do to build a workforce of inclusive leaders truly makes our culture and firm stronger as a whole, and we are proud to be a leader among peer firms in our efforts.
How Will BT’s People Team Continue to Evolve as The New Normal of Work Sets In?
Everything BT’s People team does has to be aligned with creating a culture that people want to be part of and in cultivating an environment that is truly a great place to work. Our strategy must change year over year and be agile to what current and future talent are looking for in a workplace. We’ve learned that our people want autonomy, flexibility, challenging and rewarding work and to know that the leaders of the firm care about them. Each new employee teaches us something different and we continue to evaluate our firm’s direction through 1:1 discussion, focus groups, surveys and staff council input about what works and what should change. We are also refining what and how often we communicate because transparency has become a priority and it helps our people invest in our firm at a much higher level. And, given our hybrid environment, we have to be very intentional in connecting with others in a meaningful way. The People team plays an essential role in teaching our leaders and teams how to build relationships, utilize interpersonal skills and create an employee experience that helps us to serve our clients to the best of our ability. The bottom line is that we must be in a constant state of evolution and we must listen closely so that we understand what a great culture looks and feels like for each and every one of our people.