5 minutes with...Anthony Brown, Vice President of Human Resources at Northrop Grumman

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Anthony Brown is the newest major HR recruit at Fortune 500-listed Northrop Grumman, one of the largest defense contractors in the world with annual revenue of more than $25billion. We got to know the person behind the title.

Anthony Brown, Vice President of Human Resources for Northrop Grumman Corporate Office and Enterprise Shared Services

Growing up, were there any early signs you’d be good in HR?
When I was younger, not unlike most kids I had a list of chores that I was responsible for, one of which was making certain that our lawn and our neighbor’s lawn was taken care of. And that often was challenged when my friends wanted to play basketball. So I would coordinate for all of us to take part and get it done, and the reward was basketball.

What defines your leadership style?
I would use words like collaboration, and a focus on outcomes. I think that I am very interested in hearing a variety of perspectives, so I get nervous when there’s a firm agreement on any topic. I’m always interested in hearing a different point of view.

What’s your top career tip?
One thing I have found over the years is that your gut truly is something that you shouldn’t ignore, and while it may not lead to a popular answer, you shouldn’t ignore those feelings. When your gut’s telling you something is wrong and you see people headed in a way that feels different, I would ask a lot of questions to better understand why a certain idea was being ignored. That takes courage, but by the same token, I’ve found that for a lot of people their gut feeling generally is a compass for what’s right.

What do you hope to achieve at Northrop?
My organization within Northrop (the Talent Capture and Redeployment Center of Excellence) is really charged with recruitment, so I’m excited about the opportunity to really tap into the talent that we have, either coming out of schools, or those individuals looking for a career change. I’m excited to be a part of an organization where people are truly valued, and to be sitting in a position where I can help bring people into the organization. I’m still thinking about what sort of legacy I’m going to create here.

Any hidden secrets to attracting talent?
As much as recruiting is absolutely a skillset and is one of the components of HR expertise, I really think some of the best recruiters are in the business themselves. So I like to leverage some of our experts in the business to be in the process early on. That tends to produce some of the best talent out in the marketplace. I think from a candidate’s perspective, to have an opportunity to engage with someone that’s in the position they’re interested in, that’s very attractive. And for individuals in the organization to feel they are taking on part of the future of the business, that’s very inspiring for them as well.

Do you have any favorite books that have helped you along the way?
I’ll read the latest and greatest books and look at the Harvard Business Reviews sometimes. One I like that’s maybe a bit old-fashioned now is David Ulrich had a book called The HR Value Proposition. That redefined how I looked at the HR business. We really have to look at the business hat as much as what we call the HR hat, and when you combine those two you really have the ability to help drive the organization.

And your drink of choice?
Really boring: I’m a big fan of ginger ale.

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