DisruptHR Buffalo: Interview with Nicholas Larche

nicholas-larcheNicholas Larche wears a few hats at ShopAtHome.com, a Denver-based eCommerce company. He is the organization’s Human Resources Manager, Corporate Counsel and sole Recruiter. Nicholas is also the Founder & Head of Content of HR UndergroundX, a digital movement promoting nation-wide innovation in human resources. For more of his content on leadership, HR, and the future of work, follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.   

Editor: Tell us about yourself – your career history and how to came to be at your current role

Nicholas: After graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, I took a big risk and, with a couple of thousand dollars in the bank and no job lined up, moved west to Denver, CO. I remember my now wife and I had a chalkboard countdown to the move with a quote from John Muir on it – “The mountains are calling and I must go.” To this day, we are still enjoying our westward adventure. I sat for the Colorado Bar Exam in August 2014 and was set to wait for about three months for my results. Before receiving your results, very few law firms would strongly consider hiring you, and I get that. They want a licensed attorneys, a sure thing. So, I decided to apply for opportunities in HR. I applied for an HR Coordinator position with ShopAtHome.com. It turned out that this HR Coordinator position reported directly to the company’s General Counsel. Because of our similar interests and educational background, we instantly connected. I accepted the position, passed the bar exam and was later promoted to Human Resources Manager & Corporate Counsel. Having seen a bit of both worlds, I am proud to say that I have chosen to pursue a career in human resources.

Editor: What does your company do?

Nicholas: ShopAtHome.com is internet company older than the World Wide Web. It began as the “catalog of catalogs,” connecting consumers with the retailers they know and love. About a decade ago, we printed our last catalog. Today, ShopAtHome.com is an e-commerce company that offers consumers an innovative way to save money while shopping online – coupons and cash back. The more you shop, the more you save. Loyalty pays.

Editor: What does an average work week look like for you?

Nicholas: Today, I run a one-man shop. While I am both Human Resources Manager & Corporate Counsel, I am also the company’s sole Recruiter. Since my start date, I have hired over 65% of our highly specialized workforce, spanning product, technology, and digital marketing. As a one-man shop, no two weeks are alike.. Besides leading and effectively delivering on all of our human resources programs and initiatives, I have also implemented a suite of cutting-edge HR technology and directly supported our executive team through the reorientation of our business, setting ShopAtHome.com and its workforce on a path for healthy, sustainable growth.

Editor: What made you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR Buffalo?

Nicholas: I grew up just outside of Rochester, NY. I didn’t leave upstate until I went to law school in Detroit. In my first year at UDM Law, I remember reading an op-ed article from the City of Buffalo to the City of Detroit, discussing their similarities. Buffalo was a hub for innovation in the 20th century, and even hosted the World Fair. Detroit was the home of the automobile industry. Both cities experienced incredible economic peaks, and both cities have hustled through challenging economic recessions. Today, both cities are experiencing a renaissance, and technology and entrepreneurship are front and center. Having worked for a “seasoned startup” in the tech space, I am very much drawn to Buffalo’s re emerging economy. Who knows? Maybe there is a future for me in Buffalo, New York.

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Editor: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR Buffalo?

Nicholas: New research shows that the U.S. is wasting nearly $3 trillion on unnecessary management. Bureaucracy, as an organizational system, was built in an era where repetitive tasks were primary job duties – the industrial revolution. As work has transitioned from the assembly line to the cubicle, the question is asked more and more – is bureaucracy still the solution? Holacracy has surfaced as an alternative to the traditional, hierarchical structure that we have come to know as familiar, even necessary. I will be discussing what this new system entails and how the human resources industry could step up and experiment with it before implementing it organization-wide, as other companies (Zappos, Medium, etc.) have to mixed results.

Editor: What are the major learnings that attendees will take from your session?

Nicholas: Most organizations today are built on a blueprint that is well over a century old.

Business leaders are expecting more out of human resources than ever before.

Resistance to evolving the function spells the end for the human resources industry.

HR can learn from the innovative practices that modern startups are experimenting with, including organizational design.

Editor: You only have 5 minutes to present at DisruptHR Buffalo. What unique challenges and opportunities does this format offer?

Nicholas: This will be my third and final DisruptHR event. The end of my so-called “DisruptHR trilogy.” I have spoken in Denver and also in Cleveland, Ohio.  For many DisruptHR speakers, this is their first public speaking opportunity. It was for me when I spoke at DisruptHR Denver. For others experienced in public speaking, this might be their first opportunity to pitch a vision or practice unlike they have ever done before at a more traditional HR conference. Five minutes doesn’t afford you any time to ramble on, and the audience expects to be inspired. You need to be master of precision if you want that audience to leave DisruptHR and take that next step – to re-envision their HR practice, to iterate and innovate when they return to the office.

Editor: Why does Buffalo need an event like DisruptHR?

Nicholas: Buffalo and HR have a lot in common. Buffalo is experiencing a renaissance and the business world is calling for a renaissance in HR. The needs of today’s businesses are rapidly evolving. If HR maintains status quo, it will not be able to support the businesses of the future. In that respect, HR can learn a thing or two from Buffalo about innovation and resurgence.

Editor: Are you attending/speaking at any other HR-related events in the next 6-12 months? If so which ones and why?

Nicholas: I am. I will be speaking at Denver Startup Week, the largest, free, entrepreneurial event of its kind in North America, as well as HR UndergroundX’s holiday conference, HRUX-MAS. HR UndergroundX was a Meetup that I started in Denver earlier this year. It has gained significant traction in recent months and it has even launched a blog with content contributions from innovative human resources practitioners nationwide. I am very deliberate with the events that I have chosen to present at in 2016. My focus is on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship within human resources, and I have made it my personal mission to speak at only those events which align with and promote just that.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
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Author: Editor

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