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2019 Top 10 30-Somethings: Erin K. Stewart

Top Ten 30 Somethings

Photo: Erin K. Stewart with her Top 10 30-Something award at ACC's 2019 Corporate Counsel University.

Erin K. Stewart, with her fast-paced personality, enjoys challenges that require instinct and gut reaction. So it’s no surprise that the 39-year-old ended up at one of the fastest-growing woman-owned businesses in the United States: Pinnacle Group, a staffing and managed services firm. As general counsel and vice president of human resources, Stewart has helped guide the company through its rapid growth.

Erin K. Stewart standing next to a grand piano.Because Pinnacle is a workforce solutions company, an alignment of business and human resources is paramount. As a staffing company, people are the core of Pinnacle’s business — meaning that any HR risks are also business and legal risks. Knowing this, Stewart was concerned when she saw that “HR was not functioning at the needed level, considering the size and sophistication that Pinnacle was coming into after a period of high growth.”

She decided a department overhaul was needed. Matching HR’s function with the needs of the business, Stewart hired new personnel and established department goals and standard operating procedures, including using electronic files and automated onboarding processes. Within the restructured department, she created an independent contractor classification tool and introduced materials to simplify compliance regarding worker classification, the US Fair Labor Standards Act, per diem rules, and benefits offerings.

By automating systems and introducing efficient tools, human resources staff were able to deliver better customer service to existing and incoming employees. Stewart shares that as a woman- and minority-owned company, Pinnacle takes pride in having a diverse and inclusive workforce. She experienced this firsthand as a working mother at the company.

From her first interview with Pinnacle’s CEO, the two women connected on their belief that it’s not about work-life balance but rather work-life integration. The flexibility to deliver great business results during hours that accommodate shifting priorities has produced loyalty and trust within the company.

Prior to developing Pinnacle’s human resources strategy, Stewart addressed the need for more robust compliance and risk management functions. “Over the years, clients have become significantly more risk averse when it comes to using contract and contingent labor,” she explains. Of particular concern is co-employment risk, which is when a client is found to be a joint employer of a contract worker and may end up jointly liable for violations of applicable law.

In order to retain current clientele and attract new ones, Stewart focused on developing stronger compliance capabilities with both client contracts and employment regulations. As part of this approach, she realigned the risk management and supply chain function to report to the legal department.

She also instituted internal compliance trainings for staff and moved the legal department from paper files to digital by using contract management software. Her creation and reorganization of departments dramatically improved the level of service Pinnacle’s legal department was providing to its clients as well as its internal business units.

Stewart also juggles several initiatives simultaneously in her community. Through Pinnacle, she leads the company’s involvement as an industry partner with P-TECH, a program that prepares underserved high school students to be career ready upon graduation. The dual high school and community college enrollment model partners with companies such as Pinnacle to allow students to gain work experience while still in school.

In her personal time, Stewart is the president of the Plano Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors — an organization close to her heart, as she and her three children all play violin. She is also treasurer and secretary of the Nina Vaca Foundation, which was established by Pinnacle’s CEO in 2017. The foundation supports international community building through education, entrepreneurship, and infrastructure development.

With dynamic women like Stewart driving Pinnacle forward, nothing ever stays static. New challenges are constantly arising — which is exactly how she prefers it.

More 2019 Top 10 30-Somethings

Fernanda Beraldi

Brian Buckham

Thomas Cluderay

Lewis Dolezal

April A. Goff

Sadeq M. Kahn

William K. Piotrowski

Melissa Reiter

Alana C. St. Aude

About the Author

Danielle Maldonado is the editorial assistant at the Association of Corporate Counsel

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