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Areas of Proven Business Expertise

  • Leadership Development
  • Talent Management
  • Selection & Assessment
  • Performance Management
  • Workforce Engagement & Retention
  • Coaching
  • Organizational Development
  • Succession Management
  • Strategy Formulation & Execution
  • Team Building/Development
  • Competency Modeling
  • Peak Performance
  • Stress Management

Leadership Profile

Results oriented, human resources development professional, experienced in creating shareholder value and bottom line impact through the execution of targeted human capital initiatives, linked to current and emergent business strategies. Significant domestic and international experience across multiple industries in accelerating profitable growth, culture change and strategy execution. Skilled in coaching and developing leaders, creating high-functioning teams and driving business performance through the strategic development and deployment of talent.


Gregory Burns

Several years ago I decided that I had to make some major changes on my senior management team, recruit new talent and upgrade my training programs. To do this I needed an individual who could help us evaluate the quality of the current team as well as prospective team members.  After a lengthy search we found Steve. Steve immediately raised the quality of everything we did around human capital. He helped give me the insight on where changes needed to be made and became an instant resource for senior management in evaluating management at all levels. The 360 review that he led gave all us valuable data on training and development. Steve has the skill and experience to help you get “the right people on the bus in the right seats.  

Gus Hillenbrand

Steve McMillen spearheaded our Leadership Development and Topgrading efforts at Hillenbrand Industries during a period of dramatic change and helped us build the leadership bench strength necessary for our aggressive growth plans.  Quite simply, he helped us create the innovative systems we needed to develop leaders at all levels and in all of our businesses so we could continue to win in the marketplace.  Steve is a dynamic, inspiring leader with unquestionable integrity and credibility, who is skilled in collaborating and building trusting relationships regardless of level, function or industry, and he does it with passion.  He is a gifted coach, whose counsel I personally sought and benefited from, along with many of our other leaders.  Steve is truly unique, and without question, an "A Player". 

Rachel Chen

Dr. McMillen impacted our series advisory board meetings positively over the years. His comments directed the vision of our academic unit toward deeper and broaden levels. Steve was the facilitator and panelist of our 1st Annual Hospitality and Tourism Leadership Forum. His contributions on hosting the panel discussions were invaluable. Indeed, Steve served as UT classes' speaker and his life stories touched faculty members' and students' hearts. Any company will be very fortunate to have Dr. McMillen as their leadership development/growth expert!!!

John Grady

Steve is an exceptionally bright person who is an excellent communicator, who communicates well both verbally and written as well as being an excellent listener. He brought a high degree of professionalism to the HR Department and got us involved in several initiatives that will help us in the long term development of our managers. Not being from the restaurant industry, Steve got us to think "outside of the box" that we have always operated from in regards to training and development. The initiatives we are now in will not only help our managers develop professionally, but personally as well. These programs will help build the overall strength of our managerment team, reduce our management turnover and improve our business results.

Larry Taylor

Steve is one of the most insightful and capable HRD professionals in the business. His professional experience coupled with the ability to assess, create strategy, and execute brought significant value to the O'Charley's organization during his tenure. Steve has the ability to truly communicate to all levels in an organization and ensures to personalize the message to the listener. He enjoys challenges, and excels in problem solving and crafting solutions. Our organization is stronger as a result of Steve's great work.

Randy Harris

I hired Steve into a new role at O'Charley's shortly after I joined the company and had the pleasure of working with Steve for approximately two years. He quickly established himself as a credible, respected resource in the company. He was able to develop and implement a talent assessment/talent development strategy in a company with 25,000 employees that is heavily dependent upon the quality of management (i.e. at all levels) in a 350 location, geographically dispersed organization. He is an excellent coach, who had a very positive impact on all levels of management, as well as the hourly employees they led, including both professionally as well as personally. He joined O'Charley's during a period of transformation of both the company, as well as the HR function. I am confident his leadership and many contributions contributed positively to the transformation at all levels. Steve brought tremendous passion, commitment and integrity to everything he did--and I am equally confident he will continue to going forward. I would hire Steve again if the opportunity presented itself.

Larry Hyatt

I worked with Steve for approximately two years at O'Charley's Inc. Steve walked into a new role for O'Charley's, and into a company that was initially skeptical of the need or value of an HR Development professional. Steve had a big, positive impact on the Company, and quickly proved the value of his role. Restaurant companies create competitive advantage by providing outstanding food, service and value to customers, inducing them to want to return. As with all multi-unit service companies, the quality of the customer experience depends in large part upon quality, training, and motivation of the first-line manager. Steve developed and implemented programs and processes to assess our existing talent, identify key success factors, and close the gaps. Steve was a big part of our turnaround. He is a skilled professional, a great team builder and team member, and a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend him.

Carol Arrowood

I had the priviledge of working with Steve for approximately two years while employed at O'Charley's. While Steve's education and experience were extremely impressive, his personality and his approach with others within the organization were two elements that I would attribute to his success. He was always approachable, he listened well, his instincts were dead on, and he was always helpful and supportive. Steve was able to accurately assess the organizations' needs and then recommend and successfully implement the appropriate initiatives with the full support of the executive team. As the expert in his field, I learned a tremendous amount from him in a short amount of time. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge and his time to develop both his team and his peers. He was a mentor and advisor to many individuals at all levels throughout the company and without exception, all would say that they had the honor of working with him and benefitted from the experience 

Chuck Willis

As the architect of our culture and leadership development processes, Steve McMillen's contributions have been invaluable and will serve as a blueprint for our future success with the Human factor. His guidance and long-term focus on the cultivation of talent at all levels helped ensure our leadership depth/bench and the agility of our team to adapt to dynamic market conditions and changing customer needs. Steve led the charge in providing quality programs for the selection, orientation, training, and development of our Executive, Management and Hourly Team Members improving the skills, knowledge, abilities, and competencies necessary for individual and organizational efficiency and productivity. By integrating human resource development into the strategic planning process, Steve ensured that human resource activities supported the organization's overall mission, vision and values.

Ken Camp

Steve McMillen is an exceptionally talented executive and one with whom I worked closely in the areas of Leadership Development and Topgrading.  Steve has an excellent international reputation as a practitioner of the art and science of talent identification, evaluation and development.  He is a high-impact player who shoots straight, has high integrity, and is an outstanding coach for senior executives.

Greg Freeze

Steve McMillen is the consummate professional, colleague, mentor and coach. He is a life-long learner and his depth of knowledge in Organizational, Leadership and Human Development is virtually unparalleled. When he joined O'Charley's he quickly adapted to our industry and our geographically dispersed, low margin environment. A number of key initiatives he developed had a transformational impact on our company. His tireless efforts were driven to align people and actions toward strategic initiatives with unwavering attention to ROI. Steve's insightfulness into people and skill at understanding and breaking down issues is remarkable. Steve is an outstanding leader and would be a valuable addition to any organization. Personally, my life and career are richer for having had the good fortune to work with and learn from Steve McMillen.

Tommy Daniel

Steve is a results oriented expert in the talent management arena. During my work with him over several years he exemplified the ability to connect HR initiatives to the business and win the support of his line business leaders.

Susan Williams

Steve has the innate ability to lead others in a positive, performance focused manner. He impacted O'Charley's in many areas by providing leadership and vision for his departments. Steve crafted a talent management strategy that focused on the retention of high performers and centered selection efforts on the best fit competencies. Both endeavors produced significant contributions to the bottom line. Steve's style centers on bringing out the best in others and coaching them to achieve goals and objectives. I am a better person both personally and professionally because of Steve guidance.

Mindy Lauber

For several years I worked for Steve while at Hillenbrand Industries. My respect continually grew for his expertise regarding leadership development. His depth of knowledge, passion, and smart, intuitive decisions are unequalled. But what truly makes Steve stand apart is his unwavering honesty and ethical approach to his craft. He has a deep level of respect for his customers, as well as others in leadership development, and brings a friendly, collabortive and supportive attitude to every buiness situation. I learned something new every day from him.

Don Maier

I had the privilege to work closely with Steve at Hillenbrand Industries. Steve led our Talent Development and TopGrading efforts. After receiving my personal feedback, Steve served as an extremely effective coach and helped me plan and execute my individual development plan. His professional advice and assistance was outstanding. Steve is a brilliant individual that really understands talent and what it takes to create high performance teams. He is an extremely effective leader and delivers exceptional results.

Dave Robertson

Steve is an extrordinarily gifted Leadership Development executive who understands the complexity and challenges of large and small organizations and how to help them achieve their business objectives. Steve led the very successful effort to re-engineer the talent base in a $2+ billion enterprise and created and executed a leadership development strategy which drove significant improvements in business performance throughout the organization. Steve is a highly ethical, focused, energetic and committed individual who would be a credit to any organization

John Dickey

Steve McMillen was the chief architect of Hillenbrand Industries' executive development program. Steve's contributions, entrepreneurship, and energy led to a complete and successful turnaround enterprise-wide in talent management. Steve introduced several critical talent practices, including "Topgrading- How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People", a refreshed Performance Management program, and developed and implemented and advanced Learning Management System via Saba. Steve's contributions helped to establish a foundation whereby shareholder value moved to higher levels. Steve is one of the most widely networked professionals that I know - he is connected to hundreds of professionals worldwide. An effective public speaker with excellent interpersonal skills, Steve is an expert at moving and educating executive teams and employees from the shop floor to the C suite.

Chris Burke

Steve functioned as a leadership development/career coach for me while I was in a leadership role at one of Hillenbrand Industries' subsidiaries. He was one of the most impactful individuals relative to my development - and prepared me well for my new role as a company president. I highly recommend Steve

Jim Merrell

Steve McMillen is in the top echelon of corporate training and development officers in the world. He is willing to challenge CEOs and their executive teams to greatness, and he knows how to make that happen!”


  • Northern Kentucky University, Distinguished Alumni Professional Achievement Award
  • Cincinnati Human Resources Professional of the Year Award, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)
  • National Excellence Award recipient for CLASSE Network Programs and Activities, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)
  • Role Expert: Models for Human Resources Development Practice, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)
  • United Appeal Campaign, Distinguished Service Award, Northern Kentucky University



  • Co-Author: Stress: Living and Working in a Changing World, Whole Person Associates
  • Co-Author: Building Community: The Human Side of Work, Thomson Executive Press

Selected Community/Professional Involvement

  • University of Tennessee, Advisory Board-Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • PeopleAnswers, Executive Advisory Board
  • Northern Kentucky University, Advisory Board-Masters Program in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology
  • The Conference Board, Founding Member, Leadership Development Advisory Council
  • IAMS, Corporate University Advisory Board
  • Harvard University Business School, New Media Group, Advisory Board
  • American Society for Training and Development, Cincinnati Chapter, Board of Directors

Work experience


O'Charley's, Inc.

O’CHARLEY’S, INC. 2006-2008 —Nashville, Tennessee.A leading casual dining restaurant company with 360 restaurants organized into 3 concepts, located across 23 states; 2007 revenues—$1 billion: 25,000 employees.

Vice President and Corporate Officer, Human Resources & Training and Development—2006-2008

·Designed and led the executive team-building/development process, which resulted in the creation of the business turn-around strategy and drove increased effectiveness, communication, and cohesion of the new senior team.

·Restructured and consolidated the leadership/training and development functions, resulting in cutting costs by $650K+, staff by 12%, while concurrently driving enterprise restaurant re-branding initiatives and improving the core management development program content and delivery.

·Managed the consolidation, vendor selection and implementation of an enterprise wide web-based talent assessment system that improved performance, reduced manager turnover by 4% and resulted in a total enterprise cost savings of $130K+ in year one.

·Spearheaded the development and execution of a talent review process for all vice president level positions and above, which drove organizational restructuring, the movement towards a performance-based culture and resulted in a 37% Topgrading of incumbents.

·Implemented 360 feedback assessment/coaching process, resulting in the creation and execution of individual development plans for the “top 100” leaders, resulting in 20%+ of this group receiving internal promotions during a two year period.

·Led team that created and rolled out “The Journey” Learning Map process, to communicate O’Charley’s mission/ vision/ values to all employees, resulting in 72%+ employees indicating that they understood the strategy, their role in its execution, and believed in the organization’s vision for the future.

·Identified and validated competency/performance based profiles for all mission-critical leadership roles, assessed all director level and above incumbents against those profiles, resulting in the identification of key strengths and gaps for all roles, which then drove the enterprise-wide leadership development strategy and actions.

·Led the team that conducted an engagement survey for all employees, resulting in the establishment of baseline metrics(including rational/emotional commitment, discretionary effort and intent to stay), delivery of feedback to employee populations and the development of targeted action plans to address key gaps and leverage strengths.


HILLENBRAND INDUSTRIES, INC. 1998-2005—Batesville, Indiana.A leading international manufacturer and provider of products and services for the health care, financial, funeral service industries; 2005 revenues—$2+ billion; 10,000 employees.

Vice President and Corporate Officer, Leadership Development— 2001-2005

·Led Topgrading initiative to build a performance driven culture, resulting in 80%+ of top-100 leaders functioning as “A players”, and a concurrent share price increase of 120%+ over a four year period (profiled as “best practice” in Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win By Hiring, Coaching, And Keeping The Best People, Bradford Smart, Penguin Publishing Company 2005; and Training Today: Building A Performance Culture Based On Talent, July-August 2002).

·Created an enterprise-wide leadership talent review process that resulted in the identification of “mission critical” leadership roles and talent/capability gaps.This process led to the creation of new development assignments for 60%+ of the top 150 executives over a two-year period (featured in Industry Week, December 2003 as “best practice”; and Training Magazine: Measuring Corporate Smarts, August 2002).

·Established a targeted executive coaching process to focus coaching resources on critical strategic initiatives and high potential leaders, resulting in a 50%+ ($250K+) reduction of coaching costs and enhanced execution against business goals (profiled as a “best practice” in Corporate Executive Board “Gold Book,” Maximizing Returns on Professional Executive Coaching, 2003).

·Accelerated development and “ready now” status of 120 high-potentials through customized leadership development programs.

·Designed, developed and implemented a leadership on-boarding process that reduced by 50% the assimilation time, and accelerated the performance of newly hired talent

·Led the design and implementation of Normandy and Gettysburg leadership experience programs that resulted in improved alignment, cohesiveness and performance of the executive leadership team.

·Designed and implemented a CEO/ Executive Leadership Team performance management process resulting in improved executive goal-setting aligned with strategic business initiatives, strengthening performance review and evaluation processes.

·Created board member search, evaluation, and orientation process that facilitated the selection of seven new directors, and enhanced overall board governance capability.

·Led creation ofPeak Performance Center (modeled after USMA/ West Point Center) which focused on the development of the knowledge, behaviors and attributes of exceptional achievers.Center targeted leaders in new development roles, on acquisition integration teams and high-potentials leading key strategic initiatives (Journal of Organizational Excellence: Hillenbrand Industries Builds Leadership Capabilities to Drive Its New Business Strategy, Winter 2003).

Director, Leadership Development & Performance Improvement— 1998-2000

·Established Executive Leadership Development function that was recognized internationally (CRF Publishing—High Performance Leadership: Leaders Who Inspire and Deliver, London, April 2003; and Effective Talent Management, London, October 2003) for “Best Practices” in Leadership Development and Talent Management.

·Developed and validated an integrated leadership competency model that was used in the identification, assessment, and development of leaders throughout the enterprise.

·Designed and implemented a pre-employment/promotion assessment capability that resulted in the accurate and efficient assessment and selection of 500+ leaders.

·Managed the enterprise-wide implementation of a learning management system used in the deployment and tracking of learning for FDA compliance and sales/ service development.

·Led the implementation of an ongoing workforce engagement initiative that resulted in enhanced leadership retention rates over baseline metrics and the improvement in enterprise “Manager Quality” as evidenced by pre/post survey results.

·Created a web-enabled, 360 feedback process and on-line development tool, linked to the enterprise leadership competency model and talent management processes.

·Designed and managed “leadership summit” programs for the top 150 leaders, to integrate and align leadership development actions with key business growth initiatives.


The Thomson Corporation

THE THOMSON CORPORATION, 1993-1998—Stamford, CT.A leading global provider of integrated information solutions to business and professional customers; 1998 revenues--$6+ billion; 40,000 employees.

Vice President, Human Resources Development— 1997-1998

·Spearheaded redesign of executive development strategy, processes and services for The Thomson Corporation (TTC), a group of 100+ operating companies resulting in development offerings aligned with revised organizational strategyfocused on accelerating growth, and leveraging operating company “best practices” across the enterprise.

·Managed The Thomson Development Program at Columbia University, a three-year executive program for high potential leaders.

·Designed and delivered team-building programs to facilitate the consolidation of 8 companies’ sales forces.

Director, Leadership Development— 1993-1996

·Developed/ managed a network of 60+ line manager trainers who delivered leadership development programs globally.Program network resulted in $2 million cost savings over a four year period, while receiving “superior” customer satisfaction/ quality ratings.

·Implemented leadership development program for 500+ high-potential managers at 20+ locations.Pre-post evaluations demonstrated that participants increased overall leadership effectiveness by 28%.

·Managed partnership with Harvard Business School Publishing New Media Group.Implemented The Interactive Manager, an e-learning program developed by Harvard to 15+ sites worldwide, achieving 87% participant satisfaction ratings and resulting in 82% reduction in training costs.

·Managed the design, integration, and implementation of a global training management system, supporting 75+ companies at six sites.

·Launched and managed Thomson’s Performance Development Quarterly, a quarterly periodical targeting 4000+ Thomson leaders worldwide which provided content to enhance performance and ongoing development.



A leading publisher of textbooks and software for educational institutions; 1993 revenues $115+ million: 700 employees.

Director, Training and Organizational Development—1988-1993

Program Director, VistaSystems Division—1986-1988


Bachelor of Science

Master of Education

Books/Articles Featuring My Work


Vendor/Business Partners

Master/Individual Certifications