Rudy Alanis is the youngest of six children. His father was a human resources and change management consultant and mother had a mastery in theology and human development. As a result, the family’s dinner conversations were something unlike you’ve ever heard.
“I have so many memories of my family sitting around the table talking about the brilliance and leadership of [former GE chairman and CEO] Jack Welch,” remembers Alanis, who grew up in a small city south of Mexico City. “It was always part of a broader conversation around what it meant to be loved by God and creating a life of purpose, profit, and service.”
The current executive vice president and chief people officer at Facility Solutions Group (FSG) was, unknowingly, being prepped for his career before he was even attending school. His HR chops would be first honed by his father’s business focus and molded by a more holistic view of people, their inspirations, and their faith by his mother.
But don’t forget about Welch. Alanis was so moved by the exploits and uniqueness of Welch that he was determined to work at GE, and it’s where he would build his entire early career, taking on new HR roles every couple of years in Mexico, Czech Republic, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the US for GE, GE Capital, GE Energy, and GE Oil & Gas.
HR was in his veins, but Alanis still started at the bottom. “Getting to GE was such a big deal for me, but my first roles were not strategic at all,” he says, laughing. “I remember my very first project was to find a coffee machine for the office.”
And while most of us place an incredibly high priority on the quality of office coffee, Alanis would quickly be called on to tackle more. He did so not just willingly, but also eagerly, even if that meant moving to Europe where he didn’t know the language or the culture.
“I was moving somewhere almost every couple of years, going to where no one else was willing to go and doing something that no one else was willing to do,” Alanis remembers. “I was constantly getting tapped on the shoulder to take on a new challenge.”
Alanis’s final challenge at GE was overseeing HR for a multibillion-dollar business with twenty-two thousand employees spread throughout the world. The HR executive exceeded expectations, both inside GE and out. But as time went on, Alanis wanted to build something more meaningful in a smaller organization where his impact could be felt more readily. He’s spent the last five years in an industry that is close to being 50 percent Hispanic, close to operations and employees working in the field.
FSG presented Alanis with an opportunity and a perspective that he found singularly unique.
“What’s interesting about FSG is I believe that our culture is built around our employees first,” he says. “I understand businesses that put their customer first and foremost, but to our founder and CEO putting its people at the center of everything from the beginning is what makes us unique. That doesn’t mean we have a social club, but our purpose is really driven by doing the best for our employees, our customers, and our communities.”
That means conversations about innovating technology like artificial intelligence (AI) are viewed not as a final destination but rather a tool to enable business success, Alanis explains. AI won’t be making business decisions, but it will enable decisions to be made with more data, more analytics, and more time for employees to spend thinking about bigger-picture strategy.
“AI is a tool to maybe help us finish something in thirty minutes that used to take us three days,” Alanis explains. “It’s part of our future, but it’s about using it in a way that helps us accomplish our goals, not become the goal itself.”
The chief people officer says he sees his broader charge at FSG is to work with leaders around the importance of the culture they’re building every day, and to be an ambassador for that focus on people, process, and productivity. He wants to walk that talk as a leader of his own team. He’s always looking for new ways to remove roadblocks for his people and to allow them to shine in their roles.
“It’s about letting your people shine” Alanis explains. “When people feel supported and empowered, that light they shine is going to be so much broader and intense.”
That also means focusing on helping his people become more well-rounded and prepared for their next steps. He wants to create future leaders, professionals who aren’t just good at their jobs but also curious, passionate, and supportive of each other while moving the entire organization forward.
“It’s a privilege to support Rudy at FSG as he develops multiple initiatives to further the company’s focus and development of its people,” says Lori Link, Resource Link Corporation’s president. “Our specific focus has been on tools for selection and hiring to identify the right values, competencies, capabilities, and reasoning needed for success in a role.”
Alanis quotes his own manager when he tries to explain his approach in as few words as possible. “I like to try and keep it smart, humble, and hungry,” the EVP says. “Especially when working internationally, I think those are important aspects for anyone trying to build a better life for themselves and their family.”
Alanis’s own family is a true reflection of his international career. His daughter was born in Brazil and his son in the US. But the executive has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Mexican heritage that defined so much of his early years is ingrained in his children.
If Alanis isn’t working, you’ll find him alongside his family, playing board games, heading outdoors, or just spending time together. If he has a few extra moments, you might see him catching up on boxing, Formula One, or football results.
While working and living in Boston, Alanis became a convert of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who coined a phrase just as applicable to success in HR as on the gridiron: “Talent sets the floor. Character sets the ceiling.”