People of Beam Suntory: Paula Erickson


People of Beam Suntory: Paula Erickson

“As a leader responsible for over 6,000 employees globally, I lead with my heart. But to be honest, I didn’t expect my career to go into Human Resources. I was asked to step in as Chief Human Resources Officer in 2014, just as Suntory Holdings had acquired Beam. I struggled with this career decision at first. Up until that point, my career had always been focused on corporate communications, public relations, advertising and brand development, so HR would be a new world to me. However, I’m always up for a good challenge, and I’m a firm believer that when a door opens you need to seize the opportunity. Once I took on the role, I never looked back.

I had much to learn as I stepped into this executive role, and I also had to find ways to juggle work and home life as a wife and mom to three children. To skill up, I quickly expanded my network and went back to school, attending an executive HR management course at the University of Michigan. As my children have gotten older, they’ve expressed how I’ve been a role model for them – being able to have a successful family, marriage and career. I owe a great deal of that success to the support of my incredible husband, Kurt, of 25 years and the trusting relationships I’ve formed with my colleagues over the last 15 years.

My personal experience as a working parent is the reason I’ve passionately championed for our people as the head of our People, Culture and Communications team. One of my proudest accomplishments was rolling out our global parental leave policy, which includes six months paid leave for our primary care givers. Most companies don't offer anything close to that, especially in the US, and I love that this has made such a huge difference for our families. I can't even begin to tell you the amazing notes I get from some of our parents who have tapped into the parental benefits that we offer. It lets me know we’re doing business the right way.

I really care about people, and when people work for us, I want that experience to be the best it can be for them. I want them to feel like they're in a place that truly supports them in both life and work. I want them to feel they can be their true, authentic selves every day.  

As I step into my next personal chapter and retire from the company effective April 1, I’ll be cheering from the sidelines. I’m beyond grateful and humbled for this opportunity to lead at such an incredible time of transformation for this company. If I could leave my leaders with one last piece of advice, I would urge them to lead with intentionality, ensuring our amazing company culture continues to thrive. I know the company is in great hands, and I’m excited to see what my successor, Sarah Langley, will achieve as she brings the best of her Suntory experience to our people and our business around the world.”

-Paula Erickson, SVP Chief People, Culture & Communications Officer 

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