This is the fifth interview in a series that spotlights coworkers who make Bell’s the brewery it is. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Everyone’s career progresses in different ways. One of the most important steps is finding something you’re passionate about and a job that allows you pursue that. We recently sat down with Brenden, who started at Bell’s as a temp employee and is now a recruiter in HR. Brendan tells us how his passion to help people fuels his role every day.
Brenden, thanks for sitting down and chatting with us today. How are you doing?
You know, I’m very busy, but I love being busy, so I can’t complain. Just graduated from college, went to Electric Forest and attended the Crafted for Action conference in Atlanta.
That sounds like the best kind of busy! How was the conference?
It was absolutely amazing. We learned a lot about how breweries can form partnerships with their community, provide better education and information about craft beer to invite more people to enjoy it. A bunch of really great people from different backgrounds within the brewing industry.
So, what do you do day-to-day as a recruiter?
When someone needs to hire and fill a position, they work with us. We’ll meet with the hiring manager to see what they are looking for and what qualities would be a value add to their team. And from there, we’ll post the job, gather candidates, sort through applications and push those candidates through to review. From there, we do phone interviews, in-person interviews and hopefully make a hire.
What are you looking for? What makes someone a “good Bell’s coworker?”
You know, there’s not really a specific “best fit” for a Bell’s coworker. We love everyone from all types of backgrounds. If you just want to be a good person and do well not just for the company, but the community and the world at large, that’s someone we really want to work with. We want someone who can face adversity with a smile… just an overall good person who really loves what they do and is passionate about their work.
What are your favorite questions to ask during an interview?
People interest me, learning what makes them tick and what they are passionate about. So, my favorite question is that initial background question: what inspires you? Why are you interested in this role? How can they connect their background experience and apply it here? I also like to hear about people’s connection to the brewery, what it has meant to them over the years. Those are some of my favorite questions during an interview.
You’ve been here for seven years, that’s a big part of anyone’s life. What do you love about Bell’s, and what has kept you here so long?
I started off as a temporary worker in our hop field. As the harvest was wrapping up, I was asked to go to the packaging department because they needed some additional help there. I spent the next three weeks learning what I later found out was the hardest machine to operate. My line leader loved that, <laugh>. I just found a passion for packaging. I wasn’t really sure if this was going to be a career, it was more of a summer job, but once I found my groove, I developed a love for the people and the people I worked with. Especially being on third shift, there’s a different kind of culture there. We’d hang out on weekends, and during our shifts we always had each other’s backs.
A few years later, I was promoted to a leadership position on second shift. It really opened my eyes to everything that went into how the brewery operated as a whole, and how hard many people worked. That made me want to do my job well, not only for the company, but because of all the things we do for the community, such as sponsoring Kalamazoo Pride or sustainability efforts. I felt really good working for this company that’s doing so much to be an ally for their employees and community.
How did you end up working as a line lead in packaging to a recruiter in HR?
While working on the bottling line, I really found a love for the people I worked with, and I was trying to figure out ways that I could help them, and other people, in the company. I was also going to school at KVCC (Kalamazoo Valley Community College). That eventually led me to human resources, and I finalized my path in school. I was encouraged by leadership at Bell’s to continue my studies and to pursue a career in HR, and I transferred to WMU (Western Michigan University). Then a position for an HR admin opened, which I applied for and got, which had led to my current role.
And you recently graduated, congratulations! So, you were working in HR while going to school to learn about HR. What is it about working in this field that satisfies you?
I’ve always wanted to help people. When I was on third shift, we developed a bond and took care of each other because there weren’t a ton of other people in the brewery. This often happens on any night shift; you could feel left out. So, I really wanted to be that person that could help them out, not just on third shift, but anyone who may feel like they were not feeling supported. I’ve always told someone that if you need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. I will always try to help you when I can.
Besides those personal connections, how does HR at Bell’s advocate for coworkers?
We’ve created many committees covering several aspects of people’s lives. Whether that’s wellness, fitness, mental health, DEI, we work to ensure people have the platforms to share their voice and be part of conversations. We’re also really encouraging people to pursue their passions throughout the company and provide any resources to help with that. We have a true open-door policy: if anyone needs anything, we are there to help them in every way possible, whether it’s benefit changes during a big life change, or something smaller they need support with.
We’ve talked a lot about what Inspired Brewing means here at Bell’s. What inspires you?
We have plenty of great coworkers who do a lot of great work here. Feeding off that makes me want to do my best, not just for myself, but for them, too. I feel like I’d be letting someone down if I wasn’t trying my hardest. I’m inspired to create opportunities for coworkers to find and pursue their interests and passions, to find their groove within the company, and then truly excel at it. That’s what Inspired Brewing means to me.
Thanks for chatting with us today, it’s great to see how you’ve grown your career to help others do the same!