Workplace MVP LIVE from SHRM 2022: Xavier Cugnon, Arrow Exterminators
Xavier Cugnon, VP of HR Administration for Arrow Exterminators, joined host Jamie Gassmann in the R3 Continuum booth to chat about his experience at SHRM 2022 in New Orleans. He shared how he got into learning and development through his military career and his path to HR. He and Jamie also talked about the networking opportunities of being in person again, the thought leadership he was seeing around DE&I, and much more.
This show was originally broadcast live from the 2022 SHRM Annual Conference held at the New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Arrow is a full-service company specializing in Pest Control, Termite Protection, Mosquito Prevention and Control, Fire Ant Control, Wildlife Control and Exclusion Services, Handyman Services, Insulation Services, New Construction Treatments and providing documentation for Real Estate Transactions. They offer these services in both residential and commercial situations.
At Arrow, they pride themselves on going BEYOND THE CALL because this business is their calling and they are committed to protecting your family’s health and property while caring for the environment. They are large enough to offer a variety of pest control services at affordable prices and small enough to know their customers – the way a good business should.
Xavier Cugnon MS, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Vice President, Human Resources Admin, Arrow Exterminators
As the VP of Human Resources Administration, Xavier works to lead the Human Resources practices at Arrow Exterminators in support of its business goals. Primarily, his team focuses on unifying Arrow’s human capital management systems and practices to effectively deliver on Arrow’s vision to hire, train, and retain rock stars and grow opportunities for generations to come.
Xavier Cugnon had an extensive career in Marine Corps aviation, manufacturing, and proposal writing which equipped him with a vast array of job skills.
He has a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Development from Villanova University. He also teaches the SHRM certification prep course for SHRM-Atlanta.
About Workplace MVP
Every day, around the world, organizations of all sizes face disruptive events and situations. Within those workplaces are everyday heroes in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite. They don’t call themselves heroes though. On the contrary, they simply show up every day, laboring for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption. This show, Workplace MVP, confers on these heroes the designation they deserve, Workplace MVP (Most Valuable Professionals), and gives them the forum to tell their story. As you hear their experiences, you will learn first-hand, real-life approaches to readying the workplace, responses to crisis situations, and overcoming challenges of disruption. Visit our show archive here.
Workplace MVP Host Jamie Gassmann
In addition to serving as the host to the Workplace MVP podcast, Jamie Gassmann is the Director of Marketing at R3 Continuum (R3c). Collectively, she has more than fourteen years of marketing experience. Across her tenure, she has experience working in and with various industries including banking, real estate, retail, crisis management, insurance, business continuity, and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with special interest in Advertising and Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Paseka School of Business, Minnesota State University.
R3 Continuum is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from SHRM 2022 at the New Orleans Convention Center, it’s time for Workplace MVP. Brought to you by R3 Continuum, a global leader in helping workplaces thrive during disruptive times. Now, here’s your host.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:20] Hey, everyone. You’re host, Jamie Gassmann here, coming to you from SHRM 2022 Expo Hall. And I am in the R3 Continuum Booth, our show sponsor. And with me is – oh, the last name. Oh, my goodness. X. I know it’s X, his first name.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:00:34] I’m going to help you out there. So, Xavier Cugnon.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:35] Yes. Help me out with your name. You covered up your – I was trying to like get that, figured out before they call you. It’s been a long day. All right. So, I’m going to call you X. You say your full name for me, please.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:00:46] Most people do. X is fine.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:47] Yeah. So, now who are you with?
Xavier Cugnon: [00:00:50] I am with Arrow Exterminators.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:52] So, talk to me and share with me kind of your background. I know you’re a VP of HR admin.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:00:57] Yeah.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:57] So talk to me, how did you get to that role? What’s your career journey look like?
Xavier Cugnon: [00:01:01] Okay. So, probably not the typical path or the conventional path. I’m also a former Marine, so I’ve spent a good bit of time with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children; we would say USMC. And being a product of that, I spent my last war as an instructor, teaching my occupational specialty, which brought me into learning and development, which is my catalyst to my civilian career when I left the military. I went to grad school on my G.I. Bill in human resources. I found my current role and position as a product of grad school. And now, my day job, I’m the VP of H.R. for a wonderful company, and I twilight as an SHRM certification instructor for SHRM-Atlanta.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:46] Oh, that’s fantastic. So, using all those skills.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:01:48] There you go.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:49] You learned in the Marines and then now and then from your grad school. That’s fantastic. So, now I know this is not your first SHRM rodeo. You’ve been here a few times.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:01:59] Correct. Yeah.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:00] So what are you excited about this year? Are there some things or key challenges or areas of interest that you’re excited to get more information on?
Xavier Cugnon: [00:02:08] Sure. So, you know, I’m hesitant to say that this is kind of a post-COVID because I’m not sure if that’s reality, but we’re certainly past the initial wave. So coming here and, first of all, connecting with your peers to understand, to get some empathy from your peers, because we’ve all endured something quite unique. So to get those testimonials I think is a huge psychological benefit from coming to these conventions or conferences and meeting with the vendors.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:02:39] So, we interact with a lot of vendors, and one of my key responsibilities is understanding the technology that we use, but that technology is forever evolving. So, the product and services that we see from a lot of people in H.R. spaces, what they showed you last year is different from what they have available this year because it’s a constant race. I call it a race to the moon, right? You’re always trying to develop and enhance your technologies. So, my responsibility is to understand the capacity of the systems that we have, but then see what’s in the marketplace as well.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:06] Yeah. And make sure that you bring in some of those solutions back that help to kind of do your job better or enhance the workplace itself.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:03:14] You got it. You got it. And then, on top of that, of course, all the lectures and sessions that we have the privilege of sitting through, I mean, there’s some thought leadership going on. So, you know, I can’t pretend to be the smartest man in the room. That would just be untruthful. And I’m a man of integrity. We’re in H.R. So I love to surround myself with people who are just thought leaders in our space.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:34] Yeah. That’s fantastic. And I know there are a lot of thought leaders here.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:03:37] Absolutely.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:37] And, you know, it’s really exciting. So, you know, looking at some of the presentations that you have attended and some of the information that you’ve already obtained from being here, now it’s like day two but it’s like almost at the end of day two, what was your favorite like session or some of your favorite moments or key takeaways that you’re like, “Oh, I got to bring that back. That was just so powerful.”
Xavier Cugnon: [00:03:58] Yeah. Well, you know, I think personally, I look for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. I think the whole space in a whole – you know, there’s a lot of human nature that’s counterintuitive to the idea of everyone just being, you know, in a community that appreciates one another to, you know, productively. So, DE&I, it’s such a spectacular initiative. It has so much benefit but it’s also complete chaos. And it’s impossible to get it perfectly, and it’s so easy to get it wrong.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:36] Yeah.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:04:37] So, just again, sitting in these sessions, I sat through a few where we had some thought leadership. I mean, there’s a lot of common sense, but a lot of it is so personal. You have to do so much personal self-reflection. And as H.R. practitioners, you have to advocate that to your leadership. So you have to put your leaders in a space where they’re receptive to those concepts. And I think that’s a massive hurdle. So, you know, I’m listening. I’m very intuned.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:01] Yeah. Well, and you made a comment that I think is so interesting, too, is that human connection with your peers. I mean, because you have been through similar – I mean, not everybody’s story is exactly the same, but there’s so much power in being able to learn off of each other as well. So I know you mentioned the thought leadership and definitely there’s standouts in those that are, you know, those experts that have kind of a point of view on a topic. But the conversations I got to imagine that you’re having with some of your peers have got to be just as impactful and powerful as maybe some of the sessions you’re sitting in.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:05:32] Yeah. The water cooler talk so to speak.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:35] Yeah. Yeah. [Inaudible]
Xavier Cugnon: [00:05:36] The people tap me on the shoulder on the escalator and say, “Hey, where are you from? Who do you work with?” And then, you get into a little sidebar conversation. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And then, there’s a lot of exchange of information between peers so that you have that network to lean on. So, I’ll always welcome somebody to give me a call and just to spar whatever they’re thinking, just to spar back and forth and say, “Hey, am I an idiot for being, you know, here by myself? Are you here with me? What are your suggestions?” Because I want that privilege, too. I want to be able to tap into some of my peers. So, it’s fantastic to come out here and meet new people.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:10] And you just never know when you might need somebody that you got to lean on and go, “Okay, I’ve got a situation. I’ve got to pick a brain of somebody who might have gone through that or shared a story with me somewhere.” So, you mentioned the DE&I. I mean, every workplace is going to be unique with that, too. So what works maybe over here may not work in the same capacity at a different location. So, it’s interesting that you kind of brought that up as like there’s the different technologies and things, or different approaches to it.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:06:38] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, again, DE&I is inherent to every culture. Every culture is absolutely unique. You know, it’s like a – you know, it’s like a family consultation. Every family is very different, right? So you have keen approaches and concepts, but, you know, every good shrink looks at every company or every family very differently. I think the same is true with DE&I.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:01] Yeah. Absolutely. It’s great. Were there any other wonderful topics or things that you were like just blown away by, I guess? It’s just like, you know, like you can’t wait to get back and like kind of put it into motion.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:07:12] You know, you have these amazing keynotes, so just getting in front of these keynote speakers. And again, you know, we had a keynote session this morning with the CEO of SHRM, what a dynamic personality. I mean, so fantastic to see. And, you know, that’s one thing you look for in a CEO is the human element. I mean, this gentleman is the personification of our profession. And to see him live and in the flesh, and I don’t mean to put him in a position of grandeur, but it was just so nice because you want to assume that his persona is reflective of our profession. And I was absolutely convinced of it. So that was a very successful session.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:55] That’s awesome. I know I heard. One of my other guests that stopped by had like a great quote that he had shared that was like, so it sounds like he gave some great leaving thoughts for the H.R. leaders that were in the room.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:08:07] Yeah. And you saw the human in him, which is great.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:09] Yeah.
Xavier Cugnon: [00:08:09] Because that’s what we are.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:10] Absolutely. He’s got the human back in human resource. I think that might have been the theme last year’s conference. This year is cause and effect, but yes, awesome. So if somebody wants to get in touch with you, further network, swap ideas from an H.R. perspective, how would they go about doing that?
Xavier Cugnon: [00:08:26] So, I am an email away. My contact information, you can get me at xcugnon – so, I’m going to spell that for you. So, it’s X-C-U-G-N-O-N @arrowexterminators.com. You reach out, briefly introduce yourself, and by all means, let’s get in touch.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:44] Yeah. Absolutely. And you heard it here, X is available to be that network away. So awesome. Great. Thank you so much for joining us on the show. [Inaudible].
Xavier Cugnon: [00:08:53] I appreciate it [inaudible]. Thank you.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:54] Yeah.
Outro: [00:08:59] Thank you for joining us on Workplace MVP. R3 Continuum is a proud sponsor of this show and is delighted to celebrate most valuable professionals who work diligently to secure safe workplaces where employees can thrive.