When Kathleen Voss engages with students at the Fox School of Business, she leans into not only her teaching skills as a faculty member in the Management Department but also the wealth of industry experience she has accumulated over the years.
As both an educator and a business consultant, she has insight into the current and future workforce. Her experience leads to real-world discussions with students seeking advice and guidance on the job market.
The University of Pittsburgh and Grand Canyon University alumna first joined the Fox School teaching ranks in 2014 as an adjunct instructor before transitioning to a full-time faculty position a year later. She teaches courses that focus on human resources, talent acquisition, ethics, consulting and leadership at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
“I think my favorite class is probably the graduate consulting class I teach for online MBA and MS Human Resources students,” she says. “I love the engagement level of that audience, plus it’s like a new class every time I teach it because we work on what is going on in business right now.”
Outside of the classroom, she runs her own consulting practice where she guides her clients through business challenges and growth and has developed a clear view of the trends and changes happening in a post-pandemic workforce.
“I’m doing a lot of projects, helping organizations figure out how to integrate talent management with Workday and other cloud-based HCM (Human Capital Management) systems—from hiring to performance management to promotions to learning and development—and to improve their ability to compete for top talent in the current market,” she says.
She points to both research and her own experience when sharing her thoughts on how best to navigate the multiple generations of talent employers are competing to hire and retain currently in the workforce.
“Millennials and Generation Z have very different expectations about the employer-employee relationship than the previous generations,” she says. “Surveys show that the average CEO in Fortune 500 companies is in their 50s, from a different generation, and they are challenged to rethink how to compete for this talent.”
Additionally, as more Americans seek opportunities to work from home, she notes that many CEOs are struggling to find a balance between running their businesses and retaining their employees.
“This is an everyday conversation, one that I’m certainly having inside and outside Temple,” she says. “The solution is not right in front of us; however, employers are investing significant resources to figure out how to provide the blend of flexibility and socialization with performance management to attract and retain skilled talent and achieve business results.”
“When I work with students to help them approach career opportunities and growth, there are two things we discuss,” she says. “The first is line of sight. If you are an employee or a prospective employee, and you are talking with a hiring manager about a role, keep an eye on how and where the role contributes to the business strategy. Then make your decisions to negotiate for desired benefits and rewards from that point of view.
“If you can create a business case for what you’re looking for, negotiating from the perspective of how the role, performed in alignment with your preferences, will deliver expected results versus just saying ‘I want to work from home and that will make me happy’ will ensure that your success rate will be higher.”
The second thing she asks students to consider is the spillover effect of a request, particularly the way it could affect a consumer’s perception of a business.
“The example that we talk about in class is when you’re speaking to someone at an investment firm about your own retirement account, or, better yet, when your grandmother is speaking to someone about her retirement account,” she says. “Are you OK with that person looking at your account, or your grandmother’s account, on their iPhone Wi-Fi hotspot or sitting in a Starbucks with customers nearby while having that conversation? How does that change your thinking about that company’s work-from-home policies if you are applying for a role that would be dealing with these clients? Does it make you think that maybe not everyone should work from home, even though you would like to do so?”
Her advice to students is to recognize that some requests could not be in the best interests of a business that strives to be successful.
“You need to lean into that,” she says. “Does that mean you don’t negotiate? No, but just keep it in mind.”
Not only does she share her professional business experience and outcomes, she also invites Fox alumni who have been recognized as exceptional leaders and technical experts to speak to her classes about the current employment environment.
“The consistent messaging across the speakers is that if you are looking to grow your career, it’s important to have a strategy that is clear and thoughtful,” she says.
“The first assignment that students have in multiple courses I teach is to add more connections to their LinkedIn profile and to schedule an informational interview with a new connection,” she says. “I’m giving them credit for doing what we all should be doing anyway, which is being diligent about talking and meeting someone new in our network. Hopefully, they are impressing that new person who could be one more contact if they needed a job.”
While building out your network is something that has been stressed for some time, its importance can’t be overstated. The network that she has built has yielded many benefits.
She has created opportunities for students to visit employers to learn from leaders and experts and potentially be considered for internship and permanent employment opportunities.
Multiple students have been hired by Publicis, a global advertising firm, for internships and roles after graduation following site visits she has coordinated with her network contacts at the firm.
She also provides pro bono consulting to a nuclear energy provider in exchange for scholarship funds that help students majoring in human resources management complete their degrees with reduced cost.
“It’s one of the ways I can bridge the network that I have outside with the network I have inside,” she says.