Shiloh Butterworth is the Chief People Officer at PAE Consulting Engineers. As a CPO, Shiloh’s job involves comprehensive work across several departments, but especially in Management, Human Resources, Operations, Training and Development, and Labor-Employee relations. The role of a CPO requires flexibility, and Shiloh must reprioritize his time depending on what emergencies or challenges the day presents, however, this job is ultimately one that focuses on the best interests of both the company and its people.
Shiloh attributed his early wake-up time from a combination of 21.5 years in the military and the fact that he’s a bit of a morning person. He uses this hour of uninterrupted quiet time as his “mojo hour”, and although Shiloh considers himself an extrovert, his mornings fulfill some of that universal and essential introverted time.
After he woke up, Shiloh grabbed a cup of coffee and spent 10 minutes listening to the “Daily Calm” via the CALM app. Under the instruction of a soft melodic voice and peaceful music, this 10 minutes a day gives Shiloh the time to re-center himself before the busy day ahead. After his morning meditation, Shiloh spent 45 minutes reading various sports and industry-related articles. Shiloh spends about an hour reviewing his daily and weekly work calendar, ensuring that he had time in his day to get most of his important tasks completed. Sometimes he also uses this time to catch up on a few emails or to send out an important email. Then, Shiloh completed his daily 6:00 AM-7:00 AM workout.
Shiloh’s morning commute is usually around 45 minutes. On this day, Shiloh spent the time on two separate phone calls: one with the Region Leader of their California office and the other with the President of his company. With the Region Leader, Shiloh strategized their people initiatives, in other words, how to put their employees in a position to be more successful. Then, Shiloh’s call with the President involved their plan to deal with challenging discussion topics on a leadership meeting agenda.
At PAE Consulting Engineers, there are many different technical departments—mechanical, electrical, plumbing, technology, lighting, and fire protection—that provide design services for any given project. PAE is located in a bustling office building, full of large conference rooms in order to effectively collaborate between all of the respective departments.
Shiloh began his workday at a Training Steering Committee meeting. This committee is composed of senior representatives from every department in the company, including Shiloh, and their primary responsibility is overseeing the company’s training initiatives. These training initiatives are vital to new employees and span from traditional onboarding courses to the core curriculum for every technical discipline.
At this particular meeting, they spent an hour and a half reviewing the accomplishments of 2019, refining the goals for 2020, and finalizing the job description for a Director of Training position that will be hired in the first quarter of 2020.
At this point, Shiloh completed and emailed out the agenda for the upcoming 401k Committee meeting. In their 401k program, Shiloh works with a team of 2-3 consultants, who make important investment decisions for their company. At the upcoming 401k meeting, part of the agenda involves reviewing the performance of these advisors and of the individual mutual funds.
It’s rare for Shiloh to get a whole hour to unwind for lunch, so on this day, Shiloh only took 30 minutes to walk to his favorite lunch spot: The Veggie Grill. During this time, Shiloh likes to take advantage of the break to get outside and check his social media and personal messages.
After lunch, Shiloh finished up his notes for his annual formal review and emailed it to the President of the company. Every employee at PAE gets a performance review, and Shiloh is no exception.
Then, it was time for Shiloh’s weekly one-on-one meeting with the President of the company. They always begin these meetings with the most important subject on the agenda, followed by a conversation on the company’s performance in the areas: people, profit, and the planet. Then, they discuss PAE’s performance concerning the company’s projects and initiatives for the year, ensuring that they are both on the same page for all important matters.
Shiloh took this 30 minutes to respond to some emails.
Then, Shiloh reviewed the draft for their new organizational charts for the upcoming year. These charts are updated annually and focus on the management of the company. PAE is privately owned—this means that employees both work for and own the firm. In turn, these individuals are placed into management positions throughout the firm so that they can effectively lead the company. In addition to ensuring that managers are effectively placed, Shiloh works with these members to make sure that they get a say in what their management responsibilities are internally.
Then, it was time for Shiloh to complete his annual healthcare open enrollment meeting.
At this time in the day, Shiloh met with his team to assign a few “triage” tasks. In his position, Shiloh spends a lot of time dealing with various issues that bubble up, sometimes unplanned issues, and he triages these issues as they arise. Depending on the immediacy and gravity of a problem, Shiloh would either delegate the action to his team or take action himself.
On this day, these tasks were related to his morning phone calls to assist the Region Leader in California and the President. While Shiloh works most closely with his HR Manager, Jessica, his team also includes a Talent Acquisition Manager, a Training Coordinator, a Culture Specialist and a couple entry-to-mid level HR employees.
At this point, Shiloh reviewed the draft for their 2020 budgets for Training, Human Resources, Benefits, and all of their Committees. When he was reviewing these budgets, Shiloh was looking at historical spending data for a particular department. Generally, he was taking a macro-level approach to determine if there was enough money allocated to each department to operate properly.
Finally, Shiloh wrapped up his work day with one last email check.
When Shiloh doesn’t have a scheduled evening phone call, he listens to music on his way home to help decompress. When he gets home, he typically grabs his personal laptop and reads sports and news updates for the day before sitting down for dinner with his wife.
After graduating from Rutgers University in New Jersey, Shiloh spent the majority of his adult life serving 21.5 years in the Army. When he retired from the military in 2015, he was looking for work that best suited his skillsets and leadership abilities.
Around the same time, PAE Consulting Engineers had hired a consultant to come in and do a needs assessment and gap analysis and to find someone to lead their people operations. This group reached out to Shiloh and connected him to his current company. In this position, Shiloh found the perfect fit, a position where he was able to combine operational and organizational leadership with his experience overseeing administrative and HR staff.
What piece of advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a CPO?
“Buckle up,” Shiloh said. He continued,
“One of the best parts about this job is that no two days are the same… you will be introduced to new challenges and new priorities on a daily basis… You have to be prepared to deal with ambiguity and grey and change. And you have to be able to move quickly.”
Shiloh said you are not going to find a steady normal routine in this job. He believes that anyone aspiring to follow in his footsteps has to be prepared for, “change, challenge, and a fast pace.”
“One of the best parts about this job is that no two days are the same… you will be introduced to new challenges and new priorities on a daily basis… You have to be prepared to deal with ambiguity, grey areas and constant change. And you have to be able to move quickly.”
Another important piece of advice Shiloh shared is to, “hire great people and let them do their thing!” Letting people work through their own limit of independence not only propels the company forward, but the employee as well. If you want to be a leader like Shiloh, there’s a responsibility to facilitate and assist in employees’ career development, steering them in the right direction and advising along the way which is the best place to go.