Cutting Edge: Natalie Crede

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Natalie Crede was happily serving the human resources needs at the Victoria's Secret division of Limited Brands when she received an intriguing call from an old boss.

Steve Miggo, who had left Victoria's Secret six months earlier, told Crede of an opportunity at his new company, Safelite AutoGlass, that seemed ideal for her.

Crede's response: "You want me to leave Victoria's Secret for auto glass?"

But Crede was intrigued enough to visit with the Safelite executive team, and she soon knew she had found a "tremendous opportunity."

"Safelite has years in the business, but from a human resources standpoint, it was almost like a startup," she says. "They were embarking on what sounded like a cultural transformation, and human resources were going to play a strategic role.

"I love to build and develop, and I could not think of a better opportunity. I saw hunger and receptivity and support within the executive team when I came to visit, and I fell in love. I would have been a fool to walk away from them."

In the past three years, Crede has worked to expand the human resources offerings and opportunities for all employees.

"She has an incredible work ethic and drive to get things done," says Miggo, Safelite's senior vice president of operations and human resources. "She is a tireless worker, and the quality of what she did was really good, and her stuff always felt very practical.

"Natalie always keeps the business and the business goals in mind, and makes sure it's something practical people can walk away from and use. … She makes it work in terms of results."

Crede, a Chicago native, learned practicality while studying human relations at St. Petersburg College in Florida, where she took a job as a personnel clerk for a small company selling products over the radio. That business, the Home Shopping Network, quickly exploded, and Crede spent the next decade keeping up with its expanding needs.

Ten years later, Limited Brands came calling. After convincing her Floridian husband and two sons to move north, Crede returned to her Midwestern roots to create talent management programs for Lane Bryant (then owned by Limited Brands) and Victoria's Secret.

As much as she taught others, however, Crede also learned-especially from Miggo, whom she calls "the traditional HR leader."

"He had more of an operational focus," she says. "He had owned his own business, and he approached human resources the way it should be-a lever to pull to enable your overall business strategy."

Crede adopted that same philosophy when she joined Safelite, expanding the company's e-learning opportunities and helping establish Destination 2012, a strategy that outlined six core competencies Safelite expects from its staff.

"I'm a big believer that any talent management program, in order for it to be effective, must be grounded in the mission and strategic imperatives of the company," Crede says. "Recruitment, learning, development and rewards are all connected to one another. Together they create a more people-focused culture that delivers sustainable results."

Nicole Kraft is a freelance writer.

Reprinted from the August 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.