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Renee Stevens Honey Baked Ham Co

Renee Stevens

Chief People Officer

Honey Baked Ham Co.

Location: Atlanta

Founded: 1957

Industry: Retail / Food & Beverage

While there are a number of important attributes of a leader, Renee Stevens, chief people officer at the Honey Baked Ham Company, believes that servant leadership is at the heart of a successful leader. “Leaders recognize potential and talent in others and pour into the next generation of leaders and support them through their own personal development,” she said.

The Honey Baked Ham Company is a national, omni-channel retail food brand with a strong history and heritage that spans 65+ years. Every day, at more than 430 locations across the United States, the team makes meals memorable through its five core offerings: retail, direct-to-consumer, gifting, catering and lunch.

As the chief people officer, Stevens leads the alignment of employee effectiveness, talent management and succession, training, company culture, business continuity and risk management and the customer experience.

Since Stevens was named a Titan 100 last year, she has weathered a year of plentiful challenges, leading the team through the acquisition of the California division and transitioning assets and people. “We tackled a complex, multi-faceted initiative that brought Honey Baked Ham’s systems, processes, technology, people tools and innovation to 32 stores across the state of California,” said Stevens.

This initiative marked the emergence of Honey Baked Ham as a national brand, said Stevens. “Our people are our most important asset and are at the heart of everything we do within our business,” she said. “As with any acquisition, there is an undercurrent of anxiety for team members when change happens and they want to know what comes next, what will change and how it will affect them.”

Stevens said the company took a thoughtful approach to bringing the stores into the Ham Fam. “Corporate culture is so important and critical to a successful transition,” she said. “Through leadership development, change management and practical training, down to the restaurant general management level, we are supporting a culture that says, ‘Why can’t we?’ versus ‘We can’t.’”

As a leader who benefited significantly from mentorship in the past, Stevens believes in paying it forward and mentors several women who are at various stages in their careers, both within and outside of the company. “I’ve seen through my own experience that talented leaders create an environment where their team members are inspired to give their very best, which drives business performance,” said Stevens. “As a leader and mentor, it’s my job to provide insight, counsel and sometimes even a bit of tough love; it’s well documented that gender diverse leadership drives business success.”

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Did you know?

I LOVE this question! Everyone has a superpower or two that they can use for good. When I ask my team about my superpower, they tell me that it’s the ability to see potential in others and helping them see within themselves that they are capable beyond what they believe. Coaching and developing them but also getting out to their way to do their work while always being available to support them and remove barriers along the way. It’s also about making a personal connection to truly understand their purpose and helping them bring their personal purpose to life. A former mentor of mine used to say, “I have to know you to grow you” and I’ve truly taken that to heart.

Seeing potential isn’t only limited to people though. Looking through the lens of what’s possible, having a strong sense of optimism and saying “why can’t we” instead of “we’ve tried that” or “that won’t work” opens up a world of possibilities and positive change.

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