Deborah L. Young, vice president of human resources for R.L. Polk & Company’s North American operation, fully understands that a company’s most valuable asset is its employees, and that a company’s success begins and ends with its people. With more than 25 years experience in the field of human resources, six of which with Polk, a global leader in automotive intelligence and solutions, Young has led the charge in developing, implementing, and overseeing effective HR strategies, systems and processes that best serve the organization and its employees in meeting mutual goals. Young’s HR acumen was formulated through extensive professional experiences in such industries as manufacturing, food service distribution, information publishing, healthcare information, and high-technology manufacturing.
Since 2006, Young has provided leadership and direction to Polk’s HR department in such areas as employment, training and development, compensation, benefits, and organizational culture. In her executive capacity, she impacts more than 500 company employees in the U.S. and Canada.
While Young’s professional fingerprints are all over the efficiency and effectiveness that define the company’s HR department, she is quick to give credit to her team. “The professionals that I work with are just that…competent professionals,” says Young. “They share my philosophy and values regarding the role HR plays in helping Polk succeed.” Young also acknowledges strong support from Polk’s senior leadership team as well as many other colleagues within the company.
With Young at the helm, Polk has been recognized for its innovative and creative HR practices. Such recognitions have included the Arbor Awards for HR Excellence, Crain’s Cool Places to Work, American Heart Association’s Start! Fit-Friendly Company, and Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.
Before joining Polk, Young, a Chicago native, operated her own HR training and consulting company called Human Capital Solutions. In addition, she has served as the HR director of organizational development and diversity for Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan, vice president of human resources for the MEDSTAT Group in Ann Arbor, and vice president of human resources for Xycom Automations in Saline, Michigan. Her professional career began with USG in Chicago where she received her foundation in HR.
“When I started, human resources was called personnel,” says Young, who has a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from DePaul University. “In those days, the personnel department was more focused on policy compliance and keeping employees happy. However, human resources functions have evolved to be more strategic in terms of being a business partner with our organization. Policy compliance is still a part of our role, but where we add real value is in making sure that we are aware of the market challenges that our organizations face, and that we develop HR strategies and approaches to address those specific and unique challenges.”
While technology has become a major component of how many companies function, Young continues to look for ways to keep the “human touch” in human resources at Polk. “We look to find the right blend between high-technology and what I call, ‘high-touch,’” says Young, who is married and has two children. “In other words, we look to leverage technology applications and solutions within HR, while simultaneously connecting with our employees and employment candidates on an authentic and genuine level.”