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Work experience

May 2008Mar 2009

Manager, Talent Management

The Home Depot

Responsible for ensuring the effective execution of talent management processes for selecting, developing, and retaining a high-performing, diverse workforce of 1100+ associates across 7 stores in the Rochester area.

  • Improved the efficiency, accuracy, and consistency of the staffing process and ensured the acquisition of the best talent, as well as compliance with applicable laws, by developing and delivering a training program for store leaders regarding workforce planning, recruiting and selecting talent, and structured interview assessments.
  • Managed district talent review process and selection/promotion events, and provided supervisors with guidance on associate development plans; resulted in 5 manager promotions over 8 months.
  • Managed the performance review process; coached store leaders on writing and conducting effective performance reviews and tracking associate progress on developmental action plans.
  • Educated store leaders on best practices for retaining good talent, and assisted in developing retention plans.
  • Conducted regular store visits to maintain positive associate relations.
Apr 2006May 2008

Human Resources Manager

The Home Depot

Responsible for leading the execution of HR initiatives in the areas of organizational effectiveness, workforce planning and staffing, performance management, learning, and associate relations for a store of 180 associates.

  • Implemented retention action plan, which decreased voluntary attrition by more than 5% two years in a row.
  • Key player in leadership development process, resulting in 9 manager promotions over 18 months.
  • Selected by peers as District Staffing Captain for 2007 and 2008, and successfully designed and implemented acomprehensive, strategic staffing plan, resulting in improved spring staffing readiness by 10%, year over year.
  • Recognized regionally as a genesis of best practices regarding associate relations and employment practices.

HR Consultant

Constellation Brands
  • Assisted CHRO with Board Director search process, ensuring a seamless transition for two new Directors.Also provided support in filling additional key corporate positions, utilizing online recruitment methods.
  • Administration of corporate compensation programs, including market analysis for annual salary planning and payout calculations for the annual management incentive plan.
  • Corporate lead for global online performance management system implementation.

Human Resources Generalist

County of Albemarle

Multi-site HR responsibility for nine schools encompassing 700 employees, in the areas of annual staffing, performance management, annual merit process, benefit administration, employee relations, and professional development.

  • Lead a team of 6 in redesigning and automating the new hire process, decreasing new hire process cycle time by 2 days.
  • Initiated and lead creation of structured interview tools and interview training for hiring managers.
  • Provided expert guidance to school leaders on organizational issues through regular school visits.
  • Conducted job evaluations using a factor system.

Manager of Employee Benefits

Home Properties, Inc.

Oversight and management of all health, welfare and financial benefit programs, including plan administration, vendor management, compliance and communication of benefits programs and policies, for a multi-state real estate investment trust corporation with approximately 2000 employees.Also responsible for supervision of 4 direct reports.

  • Lead a successful cross-functional project team in an on-time, on-budget HRIS implementation of J.D. Edwards’ One World HR/Payroll/Benefits.Defined the scope of the project, and lead the visioning of all future HR processes.Designed the construction of the system, and planned and supervised the manual data conversion process from ADP Payroll & HR, as well as the unit-, CRP-, and parallel-testing processes.
  • Transitioned health benefits from multiple HMO plans to a self-funded national PPO plan and applied a consistent company-wide cost-sharing model.Achieved a 10% savings against estimated claims cost.
  • Managed plan design and administration of multi-state benefit programs, including Health & Welfare, Retirement, and Work-Life Benefits. Surpassed target participation rates on new welfare plans.
  • Managed market analysis and survey participation, vendor selection, contract and rate renewal process, claims experience analysis, and budget forecasting for benefit costs.

Human Resources Generalist

NetSetGo, Inc.

Integral part of a dynamic HR team responsible for creating the HR function for a start-up full-service provider of e-commerce solutions with 300 employees, whose growth strategy centered on strategic mergers and acquisitions.Focused on creating a culture of empowerment, risk-taking, results-orientation, and direct communication.

  • Implemented a comprehensive multi-state benefits program and ensured plan compliance with IRS Section 125, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA and FMLA.Oversight of 5500 preparation and discrimination testing.Successfully merged an acquired 401(k) plan into the corporate 401(k) plan after performing an audit and completing the IRS’ Walk-In CAP Program.
  • Managed regulatory compliance and reporting, including EEOC and Affirmative Action Plans.
  • Created Human Resources Manual and wrote policy/procedure statements with regard to Hiring, Time Off and FMLA, Disability Claims, and Terminations, and provided guidance to leaders in field organizations.




St. John Fisher College
Summa Cum Laude honors

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Organizations & Affiliations


Accomplished HR leader with 10 years of progressively responsible Human Resources management experience, across the consumer goods, technology, real estate, education, and retail industries. Strategic business partner who delivers top-notch HR solutions. Exceptional competence in the areas of project management, problem solving, and process design. Proven success in aligning HR initiatives with business priorities and building relationships with senior leadership.

Areas Of Expertise

·Talent Management

·Benefits Administration

·Employee Relations


·HRIS Implementation

·Diversity & Inclusion

·Employment Practices

·Organizational Effectiveness

·Training & Development

·Project Management

·Process Improvement

·Vendor Relations


“Michelle is highly efficient and can get a lot done in a short period of time.She has been recognized as having best practices and is impacting business results.I am very privileged to have her on my team.”

    -Natalie Sherman, Regional Human Resources Manager, The Home Depot

“Michelle is dependable.In such a short period of time she has stepped into leadership roles… Michelle consistently produces top-notch quality work…Despite the complexity of work issues Michelle continues to complete work in a timely manner…She solicits feedback when necessary and is open to suggestions for improvement.Michelle does not hesitate to ask questions, challenge a process or make recommendations…Customer relations is one of her strongest areas.Michelle has received several accolades from the administrators in her client group.”

-Mitsuko Clemmons-Nazeer, Human Resources Manager, Albemarle County

“Your initiative and resourcefulness are excellent, you work very well with high-level direction.I am impressed with the solutions you reach; they are top-notch…You’ve demonstrated real agility in trying to create organization from the chaos of the mergers.You’ve picked your battles wisely…Your judgment is very sound…Dependability is one of your greatest strengths…You require little direction in establishing goals…Your work is always very professionally done…Your work is always done on a timely basis.”

-Janine M. Schue, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Home Properties

“Michelle Polowchak is an experienced HR professional. She has excellent interpersonal and analytical skills that have served her well in a variety of HR roles. This versatility has been a strength and has allowed her to cover the breadth of HR responsibilities -- from recruiting and employment to benefits and compensation. I highly recommend Michelle for any HR role and would delighted to work with her again in the future.”

-Jeff Burke, CEO, NetSetGo, Inc.