Learning & Development


HRMAC is proud to introduce our 2019 Future Leaders Cohort members! These outstanding individuals have been selected to participate in an intensive, four-day cohort program, where they will hear from industry-leading experts, participate in interactive discussions, build relationships with fellow emerging HR professionals and more.

Yolanda Ambriz, Group HR Director, Construction Products of Illinois Tool Works Inc.

Through participating in the Cohort, Yolanda hopes to “increase my business acumen, understand better the CHRO responsibilities & relationship with Board.”

Yolanda Ambriz is the Group HR Director at Construction Products of Illinois Tool Works Inc. She is responsible for leading the global human resource functions, including nine business divisions operating across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific with approximately 3,400 employees and $1.7billion in revenues. Yolanda serves as a key member of the human resources leadership team for both Construction Products and the ITW Enterprise. Yolanda joined ITW in December 2009, holding various positions of increasing responsibility across three of ITW’s business segments. Prior to joining ITW, Yolanda held a series of human resources manager and director roles as an HR generalist in Mexico and the United States. She started her human resources career in compensation.Yolanda has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Relations from the University of Chihuahua Mexico and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. She holds certifications for Coaching for Organizational Excellence from San Diego State University and HR Leadership Program from the University of California San Diego.

Julie Blaikie, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President, Human Resources; Equity Residential

“I am hoping to develop a network of relationships of peers in the Chicago area that I can partner with to learn and grow. I'm hoping to have formal exposure to the various pieces of the CHRO position, like board interactions and executive compensation. I'm looking for an opportunity to hear different perspectives on leadership and get some tips on preparing myself to move to the next level in the future.”

Julie is the Vice President of Human Resources at Equity Residential (EQR), a national real estate investment trust (REIT), where she leads the HR and Talent Acquisition teams. Julie has held various positions at EQR including HR Director, Organization and Talent Development Director and HR Asst. VP. Julie has an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources from DePaul University, and a BBA in Human Resources Management from Loyola University. She is certified as a coach and a Senior HR professional (SPHR and SHRM-SCP), and has a passion for leadership development.   

Levelle Brown, Director of Talent Acquisition & Development, USG Corporation

“I'm hoping to gain additional exposure and understand how the CHRO interacts with other executives and the overall expectations of the CEO.”

Levelle Brown is the Director, Talent Acquisition and Development for USG.  He is responsible for recruiting, onboarding and training & development for all businesses and functions within USG and CGC.  He has over 17 years of experience in the talent space.  After spending nearly a decade working in executive recruiting for multiple agencies he moved to the corporate side working for Aon Corporation.  Levelle has recruited many senior level executives for manufacturing, financial services and healthcare organizations headquartered in the US.  He has continued to grow his background within the talent function and currently leads the talent acquisition and talent development functions for all of USG. Levelle holds a BA in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

David Gustat, Vice President of Total Rewards and HR Systems, Horizon Pharma

David is hoping to gain “exposure to expectations of the CHRO role and the developmental experiences I need to pursue to prepare for this role.”

Dave joined Horizon in 2017 as VP of Total Rewards and HR Systems reporting to the CHRO. In this role, Dave has responsibility for all aspects of Compensation, Benefits and HRIS; including working directly with senior management and the Compensation Committee. Prior to Horizon, Dave led the Global HR Operations group for Baxalta (later acquired by Shire) and successfully implemented Workday for 22,000+ employees across 52 countries. Prior to Baxalta and Shire, Dave spent 10 years at Baxter Healthcare leading both the Compensation and HR Operations groups for more than 50,000 employees worldwide. Dave earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Purdue University. 

Julie Hoffman, Sr. Director of Human Resources; CCC Information Services

“My hope is that participation in this HRMAC program will deliver two unique opportunities: 1) further development of my professional network of experienced, like-minded CHRO hopefuls and 2) intensive, dedicated professional development time to better understand the critical topics/issues faced by CHROs.”

With over 17 years of diverse Human Resources experience, Julie serves as a strategic HR business partner to a wide range of critical CCC business functions, including Products & Technology, Strategy, Product Management/Marketing teams as well as the Automotive/Part Services, Insurance Services, and Original Equipment Markets. With a focus on driving employee productivity and engagement, she enables long-term business success through a collaborative approach to talent development, performance management that is aligned to the broader business goals, and effective organization/role design. Prior to her current role, Julie managed CCC’s Compensation and Benefits function, delivering market-competitive and cost-effective programs that encouraged personal accountability for health and wellness as well as employees’ focus on results. Julie received her MBA from the College of William and received her BA from the University of Virginia.

Sue Marines, Director of Human Resources and Talent Management, GATX Corporation

“After the program, I hope that the expanded understanding I have of the Chief HR role and what it takes to be successful in that leadership position, will aid me in identifying future focus areas for my own development. I also welcome having a cohort of peers who have gone through the same program.”

Sue Marines is a senior leader with a global focus, currently serving as the Director of Human Resources and Talent Management at GATX Corporation. Sue supports business leaders in North America, India and Europe and oversees full-cycle talent management for GATX, including Talent Acquisition, Performance Management, Talent Review and Training and Development. She joined the company in 2015 as Senior Manager in Human Resources. Sue obtained her undergraduate degree from Drake University and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sue holds a SPHR Certification and is an active member of the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC).

Kerry “Pete” Pietras, Senior Director, Human Resources, Ulta Beauty

Pete's participation goals include gaining "an increased understanding of C-Suite Dynamics and the role the CHRO plays in influencing those dynamics; an increased understanding of Board Dynamics and Governance; the opportunity to hear and learn from others' experiences and gain exposure to peers I may otherwise not connect with; and the opportunity to reflect on my career journey within the context of the program."

Kerry “Pete” Pietras is currently a Senior Director, Human Resources at Ulta Beauty. Ulta Beauty Inc., is a chain of 1,200+ beauty stores across the United States, headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Ulta Beauty carries cosmetics and skincare brands, men's and women's fragrances, and hair care products. Pete received a B.S. in Business Administration with a minor in Military Science from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, and will complete his M.S. in Management, Strategy and Leadership at Michigan State University this summer.  

Kevin Pope, Director of Human Resources, SAC Wireless

“I think it would be great to be able to connect and network with other similar minded HR leaders to be able to share experiences and learn from each other. The opportunity to take the time to do some very pointed, specific personal development in an arena like this doesn't come around very often due to workload and responsibilities, so the opportunity to get specialized, focused, and relevant information to help me get to the next level is an exciting opportunity.”

Kevin Pope is the Director of Human Resources at SAC Wireless, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia. He is responsible for the Human Resources Business Partner function, which handles employee relations for over 2000 employees in 24 offices across the United States. Kevin regularly partners with executive and senior leadership to push strategic people initiatives to help SAC meet its overall goals. In the course of his 22 year HR career, Kevin has worked with both a variety of different sized companies in several different industries over the years and has been recognized for his ability to communicate with employees at all levels, drive for results, and demonstrated abilities to learn different businesses and execute HR strategies to support bottom line growth and profitability.  

Chris Razniewski, Vice President of People and Talent, Rewards Network

Through the cohort, Chris hopes to focus on “professional development. Hopefully improve my ability to elevate the HR offering for my organization. Learning how to facilitate more strategic conversations at the C level in addition to build Talent initiatives in my organization to support and further our growth and People development.”

Chris Razniewski joined Rewards Network in August of 2015, and currently holds the role of Vice President of People and Talent. Over the past three years, he has restructured the People Function to support leaders at this growing business. Chris has more than 15 years of experience in Human Resources roles with increasing responsibility and within various industries. He previously served as Director of Human Resources for The LA Times Media Group, a business unit of Tribune Publishing Company. He has also held HR roles with CareerBuilder and U.S. Cellular.  Chris has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Illinois State University.  

Meredith Sny, People & Development Manager, Backstop Solutions Group

“I am hoping to learn, grow and contribute to the CHRO cohort from a technology domain lens. My position as People & Development Manager at Backstop Solutions Group has accelerated my learning and growth in this field. I am confident I would give a fresh perspective in cohort discussions and offer a different viewpoint others might not have. I am striving to be at the C-Suite level in the future and this opportunity would allow me access to a large number of professional connections. I am very excited for the opportunity to be in a room of others with similar career goals and I look forward to this opportunity!”

As Manager of People & Development for Backstop Solutions Group, LLC, Meredith Sny is responsible for creating a world-class employee experience that advances the company brand and culture. Backstop is currently in a fast-moving growth stage, and to support this exciting transition, Meredith is responsible for the employee Total Rewards Package, including global compensation, payroll, and benefits administration. In partnership with Backstop’s Knowledge Management department, she is responsible for Backstop’s learning platform and the new hire onboarding program. Meredith leads the weekly global companywide meeting to align organizational strategies and increase business transparency. By utilizing raw employee feedback and data, Meredith recently led the internal Culture Club, shifting the employee net promoter score (eNPS) from -9 to a positive 35. In her current role, Meredith maintains a direct rapport with C-Suite executives to assist with organizational restructuring and company mergers and acquisitions on behalf of Backstop’s People & Development team. Meredith has earned her B.S. in Community Services from Michigan State University. Meredith also holds her SHRM-CP

Heather Wechet, Vice President HR, Global Functions & Employee Relations COE, Baxter International Inc.

Heather hopes her participation in the Cohort leads to “the opportunity to network with other HR Leaders. I am really hoping for additional learning to further my experience/ skills in HR. The interaction with other HR leaders and sitting CHRO's is one of the best ways to learn. Sharing real business challenges and gaining experience on how HR Leaders today are guiding Business Leaders, CEO's and so forth will be fantastic opportunity for me.”

Heather Wechet is the Vice President HR, Global Functions & Employee Relations for Baxter Healthcare located in Deerfield, IL. She has been part of the Baxter organization for the last 10 years. During her 10 years with Baxter she has held several roles within HR Leadership supporting the Global Service Business, Global Biopharma Solutions and Corporate Functions. Heather has over 19 years of experience specializing in strategic management, employee development, change management, and talent development. Previous to Baxter, Heather was a HR Leader at CDW Corporation and Allstate Insurance and is a graduate from Illinois State University with a BS in Psychology.