Member Spotlight: Erich Kurschat

This month’s Member Spotlight Q&A shines on Erich Kurschat, volunteer on both the Educational and Transitions committees

Why do you enjoy being a member of Chicago SHRM?
Chicago SHRM members are genuinely invested in the future of HR, their own professional development, and the continued learning and growth of their colleagues. In the relatively short time that I’ve been involved with the chapter, I have established rewarding relationships that have evolved beyond committee meetings and roundtable discussions. At a time when I’m particularly eager to link arms in pursuit of common goals, Chicago SHRM has provided a unique mix of people, place, and purpose that I have not found elsewhere.

Has Chicago SHRM had an impact on your career development
In August of 2015, following 16 years as a corporate HR practitioner, I found myself on the outside of a well-defined comfort zone. I was attempting to do work that I loved in an entirely new setting as a small coaching/consulting business owner. I had started Harmony Insights in 2011, but it had always been a back-burner project. Now, I needed exposure, community, input, perspective, and reassurance like never before. Chicago SHRM and its members have been a source for all of those things and more, reinforcing that service to fellow HR practitioners is exactly what I’m meant to be offering at this point in my career.

How do you serve the HR profession?
I help companies integrate personality assessments into existing hiring and development initiatives.  As a self-proclaimed “DiSC nerd,” there are few things that I would rather do than facilitate a fun, interactive team workshop around diverse communication and personality styles.  When I collaborate with organizations to ensure proper job fit, increase engagement, reduce turnover, and promote a culture of trust and respect, I’m doing work that I truly love.

What’s one thing colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
I have sung backup for Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin, Rascal Flatts, Patti LaBelle, Usher, and Jackie Evancho, including two appearances on Oprah and additional performances at United Center, Ravinia, and the Chicago Theatre.

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
“Know thyself.” It was a maxim that appealed to me from an early age, given my tendency toward introversion and introspection. As I progressed in my career, I realized how vital those two words really were in terms of forging or fostering meaningful work and relationships. The invitation to look within sustains nearly all of the facilitating, coaching, and consulting that I do with Harmony Insights.

If you could invite any three figures from business, arts, literature, or politics—alive or dead—to join you for lively conversation, who would it be?
Tony Robbins (motivational speaker), Robert Shaw (conductor), and Jim Gaffigan (comedian). That sounds like a pretty diverse trio to me!

What’s a favorite Chicago activity that is off the beaten track?
While exploring Chicago-area restaurants may not be “off the beaten track,” telling the server to surprise me when asked for my order is decidedly less common. The vast majority of people are willing and eager to play along, and I end up enjoying dishes that I may not have experienced otherwise!


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