Director of corporate HR and talent,
Aaron Abell majored in political science in college. However, a chance encounter with an HR profes- sional steered Abell into the HR field. Both were
volunteering at a nonprofit community organization when
the HR professional suggested Abell seek an HR internship.
From Abell’s first assignment, he was hooked. And, like the
HR professional who guided him, he has found ways to help
Abell is a member of the Society for Human Resource
Management Young Professionals Advisory Council and of
the Philadelphia chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee. He
was recently named a 2017 Delaware Valley HR Person of the
Year—Rising Star. He also tutors elementary school students
and mentors first-generation college students.
What is your greatest accomplishment
The vacation policy overhaul I just made. The new policy
doesn’t allow workers to carry vacation days over to the next
year, encouraging people to use their vacation allotment to
rest and recharge. By adding consideration for grade levels
and years of service, we gave 51 percent of the workforce
more vacation time. We also added a few dollars to everyone’s paycheck for vacation time accrued under the old
policy. By eliminating the carry-over provision, we released
more than $1 million of accruals—helping the bottom line.
Plus, the new simplified policy requires much less time to
What has been your greatest challenge?
The seemingly perpetual mergers and acquisitions activity. In one transition, I had only 45 days to implement a new
applicant tracking system, build a talent acquisition team
and implement a new recruiting model. In two years under
the new model, cost-per-hire has decreased 36 percent. The
time to fill positions has decreased from an average of 130
days to 74 days.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever
Shape the conversation and rules of the game, a former boss
advised me. HR should play an active role in cultivating the
organization’s culture and strategy. By redefining the problem, you can sometimes navigate around barriers rather
than trying to force your way through them.