Kania D. Lottie’s foray into human resources happened by accident.
She joined FHLBank in Indianapolis as a staff attorney in 2008. Over the next seven years, she worked closely with its human resources director while also serving as corporate secretary for the board of directors.
Then a casual lunch conversation with management led to a new career opportunity for Lottie, honored today as the 2019 Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professional of the Year. The award was presented at the Indiana Chamber’s 55th annual HR Conference.
“I talked about my interest in HR – how much I enjoyed working with them from the legal side – and one thing led to another! Their wheels started spinning because they knew that the current HR director was planning for retirement. I thought I was simply having a conversation over lunch and they had another plan in mind.”
Along with excitement, Lottie felt a twinge of fear walking away from her legal role. She and FHLBank leaders found a unique way to merge her talents. In 2015, she transitioned to her new position. To her delight, Lottie remains involved in the legal side of operations – primarily in employment law issues.
“People always ask, ‘Which do you like better? Legal or HR?’ and I say, ‘I have the best of both worlds now.’ I feel like I’m in my happy place because I can still be a people pleaser as I love helping people and still use my legal skills at the same time.”
Among her responsibilities are executive and professional coaching. Drawing on her own experience at FHLBank, she encourages flexibility and creativity.
“We try to get people to be more open-minded when it comes to thinking about advancement because it may not be, ‘Oh, my boss has been here 30 years. I have nowhere to go,’ she asserts. “Or it may not be, ‘This person just got hired in the role above me, so now it’s (my current position) going to be forever.’ It’s thinking a little bit more outside the box instead of knowing the exact career path.”
At FHLBank, Lottie serves as first vice president, director of HR and Diversity & Inclusion. In addition, she’s chair of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion Council, an internal advisory group, and one of FHLBank’s three ethics officers.
Volunteer activities, to name a few, include membership on the alumni association board of directors at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law as well as the Geist Montessori Academy. She also provides pro-bono legal services as part of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Homeless Legal Aid Clinic.
“Although I didn’t grow up in HR, I can definitely tell that it’s changing for sure,” Lottie reflects. “It’s definitely becoming more a part of the business. The technology is changing, how you interact with the business and the organization is changing. I even changed our structure here at the bank about a year or so ago to a business partner model because it gets us more involved and engaged with the business and helps us know what’s going on, on an everyday basis. We’re more in the know and a part of the decisions, whereas before it almost seemed like it was a totally separate part of the business.”