Peter Gerard – Hyosung Innovue
Though his responsibilities are most diverse, the well-worn term “jack of all trades” might not say it all about Peter Gerard’s role at Hyosung Innovue. “Jack of all trades and professions” seems more appropriate.
In addition to being executive vice president and chief human resources officer of the North American headquarters for the Korean-based ATM manufacturer, he’s also in charge of managing all U.S., Canadian and Mexican facilities. That includes the securing of locations, negotiating leases, reviewing construction plans and overseeing health and safety.
“Our company is continuing to grow at a rapid pace which requires us to expand our facilities to accommodate more machinery and more teammates,” he says.
Then there’s his role assisting General Counsel Cristina Moe on the legal and compliance fronts. The company has just passed its SOC II audit and is working on additional certifications that entail adherence to ever-changing laws and regulations.
Gerard has more to offer on all these matters than most HR bosses, his journalism and English credentials from Benedictine College enhanced by a Boston College law degree.
“The components of my legal background have been very useful,” he says. “Overseeing human resources has become much more complex and the lines blurred between legal, personnel and so many other concerns.”
On any given day Gerard may be dealing with matters that once seemed unthinkable. That includes the cannabis laws that are evolving state by state and wouldn’t seem to have much to do with an ATM manufacturer and service provider.
Only they do: Hyosung Innovue having contracts with major financial institutions which in turn, contract with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., means the company must follow the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs requirements. Federal authorities have yet to legalize cannabis for any use.
“That can put an employer in a Catch-22”, Gerard explains, “with contractual requirements for drug screening conflicting with state laws in New York and elsewhere that disallow testing for certain substances, including marijuana.”
The issue is further muddled by the Americans with Disabilities Act not allowing consumption of medical marijuana. Although employers don’t have to accommodate on-the-job drug or alcohol use, some state disability laws may protect such consumption.
Here’s where Gerard may defer to one of his go-to labor lawyers, Kim Jones of the Kansas City firm of Seyferth, Blumenthal & Harris. Sensitive as the marijuana issue may be, he can’t let it be all-consuming with so much else on his agenda.
Twenty-five years ago, Gerard says Hyosung Innovue was the “newcomer to the ATM industry,” but now that’s changed with the company making innovative machines for banking and retail operations.
“Our modular device designs enable ease of service, resulting in a better overall platform availability,” he says. “Our TCR (teller cash recycler) machines allow tellers not to have to worry about balancing their drawers and what a difference it’s made for banking in general.”
Servicing and programming codes for these Korean-made machines takes a special breed of software engineer and field service technician, and that’s why Gerard says Hyosung Innovue strives to hire for life. That, however, entails an extensive screening, interviewing and onboarding process with Gerard collaborating with his head recruiter and HR director in tracking positions and screening prospects.
Because the company’s a federal contractor by extension, there’s also a 5-inch-thick notebook of rules and regulations on Gerard’s desk regarding diversity and inclusion initiatives and affirmative action requirements.
But once anyone’s hired, Gerard says they’re de facto family and provided with the resources to foster professional growth and a comprehensive benefits package to incentivize longevity. The company partners with Alliant Employee Benefits to provide industry-leading benefits programs.
Current projects include AI training that would allow an engineer or technician to virtually peer into an ATM through an oculus or use a smartphone to diagnose a problem and explain the repair process. Each year, there’s an innovation competition where employees can win up to $10,000 for presenting the next best idea.
“CEO Sanghwan Kweon champions the competition and supports all of the submitted innovations,” Gerard says. “He wants to see them all implemented and he has provided the tools and support necessary to make that happen.”
And nobody’s pigeonholed, he goes on to say. The vice president of service started as a technician and through personal initiative and company encouragement ascended the ranks. The rare dismissals are for disciplinary reasons or restructuring layoffs.
“We focus on customer service internally and externally. Our teammates are our customers,” he says. “We do what we can to make them the best they can be so they can help our external customers.”
A people person
A veteran HR professional who’s with his sixth company, Gerard was recruited to Hyosung Innovue in March 2019. He had spent the previous three years as vice president of HR at BusinessconX, and was intrigued by the new challenge.
“The prior administration was talent- rather than HR-focused and left a lot undone,” he says. “My whole career I’ve been a firefighter going where there were problems or issues to put out. I’ve worked in both public- and private-equity backed companies and my job has always been to get them on the right path and focused on growth.”
Hyosung Innovue’s problems included a class-action lawsuit from California, which Gerard traced to an antiquated payroll system that he switched to ADP Inc., the world’s largest payroll provider.
So, it’s been an eventful four years-plus for Gerard, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks having closed, everyone used ATMs, some of which were milked for $30,000 daily.
“People were hoarding cash like it were toilet paper and paper towels,” Gerard says. “It spurred us into creating more advanced ATMs and digital desks.”
That kept Hyosung Innovue rolling, even when a Texas judge ordered office occupancy down to 25 percent. Much of the workforce being in the field and others having adapted to working remotely, Gerard says the company solidified its standing as the third leading ATM company worldwide and is closing in on the other two.
“We want to be the industry’s employer of choice,” he says. “I’ve hired from competitors and am constantly throwing our line in the water. We’re the little engine that could and one day we will be number one in the industry.”
View this feature in the Vol. IV 2023 Edition here.
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