John Plusquellec is a Managing Partner and is one of the original founders of Hula in 2012.
1. What areas do you specialize in/what is your background?
I have always tended to be a generalist, both as a practicing HR professional to my experience within the SAP/HRIS world. Within the SAP world, I’ve always felt that I am very good at being a solution architect, seeing the whole landscape and defining solutions that were holistic and comprehensive. On the non-technical side, I’ve always been the guy that gets dropped in to broken projects and asked to fix it. I’ve definitely been put on projects where it’s managing myself and/or the team out of tough situations!
2. How did you get your start?
I started out as a practicing HR professional for Baker Hughes back in the mid-nineties and moved over to Ernst & Young in their SAP HCM practice in late 1998. After SAP Academy, I jumped into SAP Organization Management (OM) and Personnel Administration (PA) on my first projects. I soon moved to the boutique firm PremierHR where I had my hands in pretty much all of the HCM modules along with taking on a lot of lead roles and project management.
After leaving PremierHR, I had a short stint as an independent before joining forces with David Nesper, one of the other three Hula Managing Partners, to form PrimeWave Consulting. As an independent and at PrimeWave, I continued to rely purely on my SAP HCM consulting skills filling various project related roles across a couple clients.
Next was the opportunity that laid the foundation for the formation of Hula. It was the engagement at Marathon Oil where it started out as a partnership between PrimeWave and LongBridge Consulting, which brings in the final triumvirate of Managing Partners at Hula, Jai Shah. In this new assignment, we were asked to help Oil lay out a strategy and plan for upgrading their HRIS after the recent split from Marathon Petroleum, and thus began a six month HR strategy engagement.
During this strategy engagement at Marathon Oil, SAP purchased SuccessFactors and thus began Hula’s opportunity to launch into the new Cloud wave of ERP. This has been a long and interesting journey for me that has spanned 20 years and I feel that it’s really getting even more exciting with all of the changes we’re seeing. However, the biggest change I’m most excited about is seeing the impact that Kahuna has over the next months and years!
3. Who would you say was your biggest mentor or had the biggest influence on your career (if any)? Why?
There have actually been several key people in my professional career who’ve shaped my successes. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people that I like and trust immensely and most importantly, those from whom I can learn and be a better person. These are all people that are still active in my life and very close friends and family.
Early in my career, Phil Rice, the HR VP from Baker Hughes, provided me with basic principles of being a good human resources professional. His continued message to me was to always, beyond all else, “Do the right thing, what you know in your heart is best, even if that means going against management.” This was a great foundation which served me well in my HR profession and in life.
On the more technical path of my career, SAP, David Nesper got ahold of me (probably me more latching onto him…) very early on my first SAP project. Over several years, well beyond my first SAP project, Dave helped shape my skills as an SAP consultant. It was less about explaining how to solve specific challenges and more about how to approach both technical solutioning as well as being a consultant. Technically, he had me focus on understanding the underlying architecture of SAP rather than the specifics of how one piece of the system works. “If you understand the data dictionary and how the application is constructed, you can then understand how to dig into any part of the system and figure out how it works.” On being a consultant, when frustrated with crazy demands (and clients), he simply stated, “That’s why companies pay us, to come in and solve problems and to do difficult things. If it was easy, there would be no need for consultants.”
Continuing with consulting mentoring, Jai Shah has in a very short period had an impact on me becoming a better consultant and business owner. Specifically, those that know me well know that I can be pretty uptight and nervous about many things, especially with doing things I’ve not done before. Jai sees no task or challenge as insurmountable and makes completing it look relatively easy. With being a small business owner, there are many things that must be done which you’ve not done before. So, unbeknownst to Jai, I have been trying to emulate his confidence in tackling many of these daily challenges!
Derek O’Malley-Keyes, someone with whom worked with for a short period, has been a friend more than a colleague over the years, has guided me on how to make good decisions. He’s always been a great sounding board, listening to countless stories over the years, providing very direct feedback, and encouraging me to trust that ‘inner voice’ on doing the right thing. When I’ve not done such a good job, he’s been right there to encourage me and stay positive, but to also kick me in the pants so I don’t do it again!
Lastly, my Mom and Dad have been huge mentors. Not so much in my adult years, but rather with all of the life lessons that they packed in the first 18 years of my youth. Armed with my mother’s tenacity and attention to detail and my father’s strong will and determination to always succeed and learn from mistakes, I had the perfect foundation on which to shape my career.
4. What has been your most memorable experience with Hula Partners?
The kickoff meeting at Cameron for the launch of Kahuna with their engineering pilot group. Tom White was presenting to a rather large group of engineers and executives, giving an overview of the product and Jai and I were seeing that a dream, which had started in July 2014 with the start of development of Kahuna, was now being realized.
5. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in your career and why?
The creation of Hula has been my greatest accomplishment. This because it’s been consistently the most challenging but also because I’m getting to share in its success with many people with whom I work and that I respect greatly.
6. Outside of work, what are your greatest passions or hobbies?
Along with always needing to stay physically active, my family and friends are my greatest passion. I believe in spending as much time as possible with those that you love and respect, regardless of where it is. I love all of the routines that I have with my family and friends, like riding bikes, Saturday morning breakfast, walking along the beach in Maui to get coffee and the local shave ice, driveway sessions of drink and laughter with the neighbors, going to the same great restaurants and pubs all the time, and the list goes on!
In other words, my biggest passion is enjoying life to its fullest, by spending time and doing everyday things with the closest people in my life!
7. If you could do anything or go anywhere, what or where would it be? Why?
This is a question with a never ending response! While I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel quite a lot and see and experience many great things, it has only made me realize how much more there is to see and do. Travel will always be a passion of mine as I love meeting new people in new places and learning from new experiences. The next chapter of travel is that I am excited about traveling more with my daughter, to experience new things through her eyes.
Outside of doing the obvious ‘more travel,’ if I have the resources after slowing down from the current pace of work, I would love to learn additional languages and possibly different musical instruments because I believe these are things that make you a better person by expanding your mind.