Faculty Spotlight: Todd Mayhew, Meeting the Challenges of Human Resources in Changing Times

- Author: Susan L. Wampler - Categories: ,
Todd Mayhew
Photo: Todd Mayhew

Todd Mayhew was on the public service track in his native Canada when he learned of the career rewards offered by human relations. Currently senior vice president of human resources and internal communications at Credit One Bank, Mayhew has been an HR leader for two decades and counting. He has witnessed the field’s evolutions while advancing its capacity to enhance corporate culture and enjoys sharing his expertise with students in USC Bovard College’s online Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSHRM).

Mayhew holds Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) and Master of Public Administration degrees from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. After coming to the U.S., he earned his doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education.

In addition to his busy career, Mayhew helps build the futures of young people through volunteer service on the board of the Doral Academy of Nevada charter school and as board vice chair for the YMCA of Southern Nevada. 

Below, Mayhew offers insights from his experiences in the field, along with advice for students.

What led you to a career in Human Resources?

I was born in Ottawa, Ontario — a government town — and had interned with the Canadian International Development Agency before earning my bachelor’s in political science. All roads pointed to a government career until, while in graduate school, I met students who raved about how the MIR degree blended human resource management, labor relations and organizational behavior to provide highly prized skills. So, I stuck around another year to get an MIR and create career options for myself in the private sector. The rest is history — I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in HR roles with large private-sector firms in Canada and the U.S. 

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in HR during your two decades of work in the field?

The focus continues to shift from transactional work to hiring, developing and rewarding the best talent, and creating opportunities for that talent to grow. The use of technology and analytics has exploded, improving efficiency and providing data-driven insights into each organization’s leadership in human capital matters. Last but certainly not least, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) have become focal points as organizations respond to social justice imperatives.  

You’ve conducted research about organizational responses to the impact of computerization on employees. Can you describe your key findings?

I’m a proud USC Trojan who graduated from the Rossier School of Education with a doctorate in organizational change and leadership. My dissertation focused on ascertaining the knowledge, motivation and organizational influences affecting teams charged with creating redeployment programs for employees displaced by computerization (e.g., automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning) and other efficiency initiatives. In broad terms, I found that companies should do three things when confronted by rising obsolescence of the skills their employees possess and increasing difficulty hiring the skills they need in the open labor market. First, they should determine how to match employees with jobs of the future. Second, they should commit to investing in employee development for roles that will persist. Last, they should place a premium on hiring from within versus recruiting externally.

What do you enjoy most about working in HR?

The diversity of hats you wear — on any given day, you’re part strategist, tactician, lawyer, counselor, analyst, etc. 

You have held roles leading all aspects of the HR function. What are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing practitioners in the field today?

The pandemic shone a giant spotlight on the importance of the field, as HR leaders had to guide organizations through unprecedented times. During the ensuing “Great Resignation,” we’ve had to revisit every facet of the employee experience to ensure that organizations remain compelling to current and prospective employees. This challenge also presents an enduring opportunity to combine empathy with business acumen for strategies that supply the human capital necessary for organizations to fulfill their missions.

What excites you most about the future of the field?

As empirical research continues to mount about the positive business outcomes associated with high-performance work systems, HR practitioners are positioned uniquely to lead organizations to new levels of performance.  

What led you to teach at Bovard College and what do you enjoy most about your role?

As I completed my doctorate, I knew I wanted to stay connected with academia (ideally through USC!) but wasn’t sure how. I started to research adjunct faculty opportunities that might fit with my academic and professional background, and quickly came across Bovard College’s MSHRM program. As it happened, the chair of my dissertation committee had colleagues at Bovard to whom he kindly introduced me.

I thoroughly enjoy my engagement with students. They come from an array of backgrounds but all are committed to deepening their understanding of the theory and practice of HR management. I, in turn, am committed to their success — both in the courses I teach and beyond as a lifelong member of their Trojan network. Teaching at Bovard gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience as a scholar-practitioner, and I derive a lot of personal satisfaction developing leaders in the field to which I have devoted my career.

What impresses you about the students enrolled in the MSHRM program at Bovard College?

Their caliber. They come from diverse professional and personal backgrounds that make for rich discussions and engaging learning experiences. I also am impressed by their perseverance. The program is rigorous, and it requires discipline and focus to balance the obligations of work, family and school.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering an advanced degree in HR? 

They should do their research. If they’re not already in the field of HR, they should speak with professionals for a realistic sense of what a career might look like and what’s necessary for success. Second, they should research available programs and perhaps speak with current students or recent grads. I certainly invite them to reach out to students, grads and faculty of Bovard’s MSHRM program.

Tell us about your interests outside of HR.

Fitness has always been a big part of my life, so I make sure to get to the gym regularly. My son and I have been taking guitar lessons for years — it has been fascinating to see the musician he is becoming (while my skills remain at the novice level … and that’s being charitable).

Learn more about the MS in Human Resource Management program.

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