Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - August 13, 2009
Vice President Human Resources for American Airlines Center
Think of this. Within our world of technology, tweeting, face-booking, my-spacing, and being obsessed by our IPhone, Ipod, or PDA, we still wouldn't be able to be served a sandwich, walk in a litter free venue, or feel the warmth in our heart when we see someone smiling and saying, "have a good day" without human beings. A human resources executive is the caretaker of businesses' great asset - human beings. In talking with Rita Ransdell, a Vice President of that special asset, I can see why American Airlines Center values human beings as its true resources. I heard it in her voice. These are Rita's Reflections...
"If you feel you've made a difference by making something better than what was before, you feel valued and needed and with that you feel a greater inclination to stay in your job so you can continue to feel those good feelings of being a positive contributor."
"During my career, I had to fight for a promotion. I was interviewing for the job as both director of employee relations and director of recruiting and the vice president asked what would I do differently if I were to manage this department. I said that I would reduce the time to fill a job. I added that we were in a hot hurry to get medical personnel hired and the processes we used were so antiquated that the candidate often had to physically interview with us 2 – 3 times. I added that if you think we were in a hurry, the applicant is in a greater hurry and they don’t have the time for wasted trips to see us. That was arrogant on our part. We need to be respectful of the applicant’s time and in so doing, we would be more cost efficient. She promoted me into the position. With great support from the group, we implemented this process and we cut the hiring time in half. My boss was very happy [and so too the employees!]" Rita stayed with Children’s Medical Center for 10 years.
"Necessity is the mother of invention."
"I used to have a Covey planner. Once upon a time I had a new vice president at the hospital who walked into our offices and told us that starting tomorrow, all of you will have your meetings and schedules on Outlook. Not next month, not next week. She reminded us all of us had college degrees and we should be able to figure out the software and walked out of the office. You can start people in the shallow end and work your way into the deep end, but if you don’t get your employees to just jump in, you are not going to produce the kinds of actions you want from them until you go all the way." Why wait? Rita has quickly and successfully introduced new technologies into the American Airlines Center such as insisting that new job applicants apply online for arena jobs. That was innovative and provides her better employees, she says. The Dallas Cowboys recent hiring of their 600 + Legends staff online benefitted from Rita’s warming the Dallas sports employment market to online applications.
"I think Human Resources needs to be focused on making employees feel a part of the wheel. People need to know that someone gives a darn about whether they just got certified in something; whether you just gave birth to a new baby – all those things."
"Due to illness, I was often alone as a child. I had asthma and my mother and father were afraid of the asthma attacks and often confined me to the house. I spent a lot of time alone with grandma until I had new brothers and sisters. And then once I got them, I welcomed the responsibility for being a role model and watching over them. If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times from my parents, "Rita, they are there looking up to you." I care deeply about my siblings, which I have also transferred to my staff and my fellow employees to this day."
"My older sister was my hero". - Mitzi Perez (Rita’s 50 year old sister)
"Last Sunday marked my sister Mitzi’s birthday, who died on July 19th. She would have been 51. We honored her memory by gathering at her home for a rosary and lunch. Her daughter told me she had a surprise and handed me a thin folder entitled "Who’s Who at Charles A. Gill". Gill Elementary School is where Mitzi last worked, having spent more than 20 years with the Dallas Independent School District. Anyways, one of the second grade classes there had adopted a project to interview school personnel. They asked everyone the same thing: tell us about yourself and tell us if you have a hero. As I read my sister’s interview, she said that her older sister was her hero. This interview occurred several months before her terminal diagnosis in 2005, but I only found out about it after her funeral. I was humbled by this great honor from a woman who displayed courage and joy throughout her painful journey with cancer. My sister’s interview will be framed, where it will sit beside my framed degrees and law license. I consider it more priceless than all my other honors."
"All that I have, I owe to my hard work. All that I am, I owe to my mother and father". – she says paraphrasing Jodi Foster
"I was raised the oldest of 5. My father didn’t get past 7th grade, but he read the paper every day and could converse like any college graduate about current events. He was a waiter and worked nights. My mother, she had gone one year to college and was a bit more fearless. She was an accounting clerk. With 5 children she convinced a woman to sell her a nice home and leaned on family and friends for the down-payment. She never missed a payment thereafter and to this day she lives in the same house where we were all raised. All 5 children received college degrees, 3 bachelors and 2 associates’ degrees." Rita paid her way through college and law school, the first generation of her family to have not only a college degree but a doctorate as well.
"I am blessed," she confessed. And so, too I’m sure, Rita, are the people who work and have worked with you.
- Buffy Filippell
"When you educate a woman you educate a nation, Rita Ransdell sets the pace for educating employee groups and ensuring employee compliance through working with employees to effectively set policy. As a management team we often say she double duties as Vice President of Human Resources and a lawyer regarding employment law. She is consistent in ensuring cost effective decisions are in place which will save the company money. Her education and experience which she openly shares is invaluable to American Airlines Center."
- Jeri Tillman, Senior Human Resources Manager at American Airlines Center
What I do...
Jeri is in charge of the human resources department for American Airlines Center.
HOW I GOT HERE...
AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER; 2003 – present
Vice President Human Resources
CHILDREN’S MEDICAL CENTER OF DALLAS; 1993 – 2002
Employee Relations Director/Recruiting Director
CITY OF PLANO, TX; 1985 – 1988
Employee Relations Manager
FAIR JOBS FOR PROGRESS; 1977 – 1979
AIR FORCE; 1975 – 1976