As a college junior doing an internship at Ford Aerospace & Communications Corp., Alexander Arrieta locked in on human resources, believing it would be the perfect—and practical—way to impact people’s lives. Little did he know this summer-long internship would set the stage for a stellar career in HR, one that would take him all over the world with renowned brands like Disney and Honda, eventually leading to his current role as vice president of global human resources for J.D. Power and Associates, one of the largest marketing-information companies in the world.
Alexander Arrieta’s tips for navigating the global marketplace
Learn a bit about the respective culture and market before you’re on the ground in a new country.
Socialize with the team members and leadership of the country you’re spending time in. This will help you to forge strong alliances quickly.
Take time to appreciate being in a different country, and explore.
When it comes to operating HR on a global scale, Arrieta gained the most experience during his nine years at Disney, where he held various HR leadership roles in the consumer products division, including leading HR for global retail, sales and marketing, e-commerce, and licensing before moving into his final role as vice president of human resources for the Disney Store retail business.
“We had 400 stores in North America alone and, in addition to them, I was visiting locations in Asia and Europe,” Arrieta says. “I came to understand different ways of doing business, how other markets work, and how HR can help drive business results. I always give young people the same advice: If you have the opportunity to develop your career in a global retail space, do it. You’ll tackle issues from A to Z, hone your global planning skills, and solve business and talent issues—all while strategically partnering with business leaders to help them develop their talent and grow the business. It will build a good foundation for going forward.”
When J.D. Power and Associates, part of the McGraw-Hill Companies, came calling, Arrieta jumped at the opportunity. “J.D. Power is a true leader in global marketing information. It’s an incredible brand with a huge global footprint: 16 offices across China, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and the United States,” Arrieta says. “It was a no-brainer.”
Arrieta joined J.D. Power at a time of tremendous change for the company, and was able to play a critical leadership role in restructuring its business operations.
“I started at J.D. Power during the recession, but I saw it as a huge opportunity to come in and build out the global HR strategy to more closely align our talent against our changing business model while also working closely with our president and leadership team to turn the business around,” Arrieta says.
Currently, J.D. Power and Associates is in the middle of reinventing the way it operates and, in many ways, Arrieta is at the helm of it all. His time is spent assessing and planning the talent to drive the new market-research business model, realigning sales, and leading a global change-management steering team to help shepherd associates through the massive change the company is going through.
“I’m a big believer in taking diverse and bold approaches to HR and talent strategy to positively impact our business results, and also helping our associates develop and thrive; those two goals are not exclusive,” Arrieta says. “My thing is: let’s try new, innovative approaches, learn from our mistakes, and move on.”