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Mgr, Initiative Lead
Grainger | Mettawa, Illinois
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Job Description

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE: GWW), headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois, is a Fortune 500 industrial supply company founded in 1927. While each customer has a unique facility to operate and a different problem to solve, its customers all share the same requirement: when they need one of Grainger's products, they often need it right away. With more than 22,000 employees, the Grainger team works closely with customers to better understand their challenges and provide cost-savings solutions. With 2012 sales of $9 billion, Grainger is a Fortune 500 Company, and is a perennial member of Fortune magazine's Most Admired Companies List. As a leading distributor, Grainger's success depends on an effective and growing supply chain and sourcing operation.


The Initiative Lead develops a strong understanding of the Grainger that includes business drivers and strategies, competitive position in the marketplace, and industry trends. The Initiative Lead partners with HR leaders and business leaders to diagnose, plan and create appropriate and proactive solutions to achieve successful business outcomes through its people.


Actively partners with HR and business partners on human capital strategies such as performance management, succession planning, capability development, talent planning, high-performing leaders & teams, career development, learning and development, employee engagement, organizational design, culture and change management.


The Initiative Manager provides valued strategic consulting support and guidance through ownership of one or several COE global processes. This role will function as a global thought leader, strategic partner and coach aligning COE resources through deployment of best practices in the global processes.


The Initiative Manager will assess, design and deploy relevant human capital strategies and will concurrently lead multiple cross-functional COE teams to deliver successfully on a portfolio of high-impact business/talent initiatives. This role will manage execution of multiple projects and delivery teams executing those initiatives in a matrix structure through communication of decisions, priorities, and relevant project information to appropriate levels across the global organization. This role will ensure standard of excellence in deliverables, interactions and business outcomes and is responsible for executing projects within budget and timeline while managing stakeholder expectations.


  • Works collaboratively with HR partners, business leaders and other team members to assess organizational opportunities and design human capital solutions that achieve strategic business outcomes.
  • Understands and translates business priorities into talent priorities; assesses and diagnoses strategic human capital needs at all levels to design and develop effective solutions to drive enterprise and/or business unit growth and productivity improvements.
  • Designs enterprise-wide processes, tools and methodologies. Serves as Global Process Owner for one or several COE-led global processes (e.g.: change management, engagement, organizational design, performance management, learning design and delivery, succession planning).
  • Translates thorough understanding of human capital practices into practical business solutions. Works with HR and business leaders to plan, deploy, embed and sustain talent management and global process initiatives.
  • Leads multiple initiative teams concurrently in compliance with service delivery standards. Provides leadership to teams and be actively involved in staff development and performance management processes for those reporting to the Initiative Lead. Routinely manages several initiatives with team members staffed to each initiative, resulting in 6+ team members managed in a matrix relationship at any given time.
  • Demonstrate thought leadership by contributing to the development and evolution of methodologies and intellectual capital including contributing to articles, whitepapers, external speaking engagements and training efforts and/or participating in benchmarking, research, networking, etc.
  • Partners with business and HR leaders to develop strategies and plans to develop new capabilities and transform culture within the organization and drive communication strategies that support critical initiatives.
  • Demonstrates strong consultative, relationship building, interpersonal and influence skills in dealing with all levels of management. Effective at quickly establishing credibility and developing working relationships.
  • Demonstrates flexibility to shift from strategic to tactical work depending on the situation and role required.
  • Must be able to research information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions, recommendations, and plans of action.
  • Utilize technical and industry knowledge to identify and solve complex client issues.
  • Develops, both formally and informally, COE team members. Contributes to the performance management process for all team members reporting within his/her matrix.
  • Demonstrates strength in program and project management, planning, budgeting and project deployment.
  • Assists in the selection of, and/or partners with, external vendors to develop/implement solutions.


Leadership Responsibilities

  • Represents Grainger at professional associations and take an active role in establishing a network in the Talent Management community.
  • Coaches business and HR leaders to build capabilities across the HR function.
  • Leads, develops and coaches initiative team members to their fullest potential (levels managed in a matrixed team hierarchy structure could include Senior Consultant, Consultant, Learning Delivery Consultant, and Analyst.) Routinely manages several initiatives with team members staffed to each initiative, resulting in 6+ team members managed in a matrix relationship at any given time.


External Partners

External research/ benchmarking organizations (evaluate best practices and determine how such practices can be implemented at Grainger) interface would be with senior management in such organizations (e.g., CEOs and Chief HR Officers at benchmark Great Place to Work Companies, Institute of Corporate Productivity, Corporate Executive Board, etc.). Interacts with Talent Management community organizations.


Internal Partners

Executive Leadership Team, Executive HR Leadership Team, interacts with HR Generalists, Center of Excellence partners, and multiple levels of business leadership (individual contributors, managers and VP/Officer level).



Skills and abilities in the following:

  • Strong business and financial acumen: Has key working knowledge of how a business functions, the key processes, drivers and leverage points. Understands the company's operating models. Can develop detailed, zero-based budgets, articulate a business case and establish/track metrics, scorecards, etc. Has ability to translate and articulate key business drivers/strategies and their relationship to human performance strategies.
  • Strong consulting skills: Influencer and coach (as a business leader first and offers HR leader expertise) across the organization and within the HR function. Able to link business strategies with people strategies and scope work efforts to achieve desired business outcomes.
  • Problem solving and systemic thinking skills: critical analytics/ diagnosis/ prioritization skills; anticipating customer needs. Drives for continuous improvement.
  • Analytical Skills: Must be able to gather quantitative and qualitative information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions, recommendations, and plans of action.
  • Strong decision making skills and judgment: to drive the right impact
  • Strong external & global orientation: Looks external to understand the global business context in which we operate.
  • Strong collaborator: ability to build rapport and credibility at all levels in the business and in HR; builds trusted relationships internally and externally.
  • Change Management Acumen: strong experience with change management best practices in areas such as organization impact analysis, stakeholder management, training and communications
  • Talent Management Acumen: experience developing, implementing and managing key talent management strategies and interventions to improve employee engagement and business performance
  • Learning & Development Acumen: knowledge of instructional design, learning technology and adult learning theory.
  • Strong program/project management & planning skills: Ability to scope, plan, resource, financially manage and risk mitigate several complex, enterprise-wide/global and/or functional initiatives concurrently. 
  • Meeting Planning & Facilitation: ability to plan and conduct successful meetings, interviews and focus groups with clear objectives and outcomes
  • Communications: ability to interface comfortably and confidently with team members, HR partners and business leaders as well as the ability to write clear and concise inspiring, simple situational, multi-level and multi0cultural  messaging.
  • Agility / Intellectual Curiosity: Ability to navigate a complex, matrixed environment, politically aware, agile and resourceful. Demonstrates intellectual curiosity and learning agility.
  • Results and delivery orientation: Strong ability to deliver results and convey the urgency and importance of on time, on budget delivery to others.
  • Champion of inclusion and diversity.
  • Ethical: Highly ethical, high integrity; does the right thing for the business and our team members; maintains confidentiality.



  • MBA or Masters in organizational development, industrial/organizational psychology, human resources, learning & development, or related field
  • 8+ years progressive leadership in business or human resource management roles
  • Previous change management, global experience a plus
  • Previous consulting experience in providing strategic recommendations to both corporate and field clients; demonstrated track record of influencing and advising at all levels
  • Expertise in creating and operationalizing enterprise-wide talent strategies in a global, complex, matrixed organization.
  • Experience in measurement/ analytics (data collection, analysis and interpretation) to support fact-based, predictive decision making.
  • Previous experience with talent management technology solutions preferred.
  • Previous success in influencing without direct authority and leading large scale, complex enterprise-wide change initiatives


The impact of decisions made by the individual in this role would affect:  the job itself, others within COE, the HR function, the business group(s) involved in each initiative, and depending on the project/deliverable, the enterprise.


Sample decisions and activities could be to:

  • Design of enterprise-wide processes/tools/methodologies
  • Work directly with leaders and managers to conduct interviews, leading meetings, facilitating team development activities, etc.
  • Make decisions regarding vendors, products, etc.
  • Work with sensitive talent management data
  • May manage budget up to $500k
  • Collaborate with business leaders and human resource partners to assess needs and determine appropriate human performance strategies
  • Manage professional contractors and vendors as necessary
  • Makes decisions regarding organization development service offerings and project-specific strategies


Budgetary Responsibility

This position routinely manages concurrent execution of multiple project budgets and may manage external vendor budgets and/or business function project allocations.


Grainger is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

About Grainger

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (Grainger) distributes facilities maintenance products, and provides services and related information used by businesses and institutions primarily in the United States, Canada and Mexico to keep their facilities and equipment running. Grainger is the supplier of facilities maintenance and other related products in North America. Its operations are managed in three segments: Grainger Branch-based, Acklands - Grainger Branch-based (Acklands - Grainger), and Lab Safety Supply, Inc. (Lab Safety). Grainger Branch-based is an aggregation of the Grainger Industrial Supply (Industrial Supply), Grainger, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico), Grainger Caribe Inc. (Puerto Rico), Grainger China LLC (China) and Grainger Panama S.A. (Panama). Acklands - Grainger is the Company's Canadian branch-based distribution business. Lab Safety is a direct marketer of safety and other industrial products. (Source: 10-K)

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