Management Style: Petra Fetters, Vice President of HR, BDS Marketing, Inc. and Kathy Chamberlain, HR Professional

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and are always working on their own personal management style.

Today’s guests are Petra Fetters, Vice President of HR, BDS Marketing, Inc. and Kathy Chamberlain, HR Professional.  Both Fetters and Chamberlain are best-in-class examples of the true power of HR at work beyond the transactional stereotype, introducing key relationship, recruiting and performance management approaches that have propelled them in their individual careers. To hear the entire show, click

PETRA FETTERS management style

Fetters has been in HR for 15 years, though initially she “wasn’t inspired by HR of the 90s.”  Seeing the potential of what HR could become, she has led a successful career and is currently with BDS Marketing.  Fetters set out to break through common HR stereotypes, asking: “How do we create a transformational team where we’re impacting change?” So, with no financial investment, her team at BDS Marketing revamped its recruiting model, built a new learning platform and reduced turnover, saving $200,000 in the process.

What sets the BDS Marketing’s recruitment process apart is the role of relationships.  For instance, employees hired via the company’s Talent Scout referral program had higher tenure and higher performance, so they doubled down on the program and doubled the number of hires through referrals last year.  They also keep up ongoing relationships with candidates and former employees despite their being no current openings, in order to be able to fill roles quickly and effectively when need be. 

What Doesn’t Kill You

On leadership development and management style, Fetters shares: “I am the leader that I am today because of the mistakes that I’ve made…There’s nothing that’s a greater teacher than consequences.”

While she has been fortunate to have great mentors that influenced her management style, a few surprisingly stand out: peers and subordinates who disagreed with her leadership style.  They influenced Fetters to gain perspective on what she could be doing differently.

That said, one trait she’s had to deliberately work on is patience, from simple actions such as letting someone finish talking to being patient with her people as they work through their development.

Good to the Core

Fetters uses both areas of strength and opportunity to frame discussions with her team.  She helps them envision where they could be if they develop their strengths further, and give them experiences to work on areas of opportunities.  This type of management style helps to equip her team to go beyond their own personal limitations.

Her overarching HR philosophy is to “believe to your core that people want to do good and have good intentions.”  Beyond that, practically she recommends recognizing employees no matter how small their wins are, as well as asking their opinions regularly.  “There’s no bigger confidence booster than someone in a management role wanting to know what you think.”

What are you Reading?

Fetters is reading The Challenger Salewhich challenges the stereotypes of what makes salespeople good.

How Can People Connect with You? Go to our company website,


KATHY CHAMBERLAIN management style

Chamberlain has worked in HR for more than a dozen years, starting with her first recruiting job at Accenture.  She’s landed at a small boutique firm, Green Street Advisors, where she handles both recruiting and HR generalist functions. Given the company’s highly-selective recruiting process, Chamberlain’s biggest satisfaction is watching talent “…go from job candidates to great hires to developing leaders.”

Calling the Shots

Her biggest area of growth over her career is being comfortable with decision-making, especially in light of legal implications of her industry, which Chamberlain describes as potentially “paralyzing.”  When it comes to employee relations issues in particular, she has learned to “see shades of gray and use past experiences” to guide her.

Culture of Cooperation

Having been afforded the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes in her HR roles, Chamberlain has witnessed what doesn’t work in leadership, namely: don’t break someone’s trust and don’t make promises you can’t keep; and always be honest and ethical.

She asserts: “If you’re giving to others, in a way you’re helping to contribute to your own success.” With this in mind, Chamberlain has created a highly cooperative culture where teams are involved in decisions and discussions, empowered to solve for challenges on their own and trusted with important tasks delegated to them.  This is a management style that has worked for her and helped her to find success.

Getting Creative with Recruiting

Outside of niche financial market, Green Street Advisors is not as well known, which means Chamberlain and her team need to get creative in seeking out top talent – in everything from the job posting to their competitive packages.

She also does lots of reading to generate fresh ideas, flagging relevant topics and bringing them to the team for dialogue and discussion.

When it comes to vetting talent, she stresses that you can really tell when someone is passionate about what they do. In addition to leading to better work performance, she believes passion contributes greatly to overall morale, so  “making the wrong hiring decisions can have a really big impact,” beyond the financial implications, Chamberlain cautions.

What are You Reading?

The Chief HR Officer:  Defining the New Role of Human Resource Leaders” which shares current thinking on the evolving role of HR around accountability.

How Can I Connect with You? Go to our company website,

Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: September 24, 2013