Handshake Honor Roll: Announcing May 2022 Winner

Celebrating the people who open doors & make careers happen for early talent.

Announcing May’s Handshake Honor Roll 2022 winner…Danny Combs, Director, NA Talent Acquisition Commercial and Employment Branding & Initiatives at Procter & Gamble! 🌟

Danny sat down with our team to share more about how he started his career at P&G, where he draws inspiration from (calling all sports fans 🏈), why he is passionate about representation in the recruiting process and the workplace, and his advice for today’s job seekers.

Plus – in honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we’ve asked Danny to share how P&G is supporting mental health and wellness with early talent. Be sure to read the full interview below to learn more about the exciting debut of their MeQuilibrium program.

Congratulations, Danny! 

What was your first job outside of college and how’d you find it?

My first job outside of college was as a Human Resources Business Partner with Procter & Gamble’s Health Care Research & Development organization. I found out about the opportunity after attending a panel session featuring a senior P&G HR leader during the orientation for my Masters of Human Resources program. I’m not trying to date myself, but Handshake had not yet come to Ohio State when I was in college. So, for the most part, I was only limited to the employers that would recruit at my career fairs. Ohio State (my alma mater) was not a “Core School” for Human Resources at P&G, and if I hadn’t had the opportunity to hear the amazing stories told by this senior leader, I likely would not have pursued P&G as intensely as I did during my career search.

Why are you passionate about recruiting early talent or increasing DEI?

I was a first-generation college student who didn’t necessarily have strong role models to lean on while pursuing a career in the “corporate” space. There were not many people from my hometown that went on to work at companies like Procter & Gamble, and I believe that I was very lucky to make the connections in college that enabled me to believe that this career was a realistic possibility. If I didn’t meet people who came from a similar background as I did and that achieved an inspiring level of success within their careers, I don’t think I would have even known how to get into the career path that I’m on today. Representation matters so much for early talent to believe that they can achieve their career goals. It’s so important for early talent to see people who look like them and have similar experiences to them excelling in their career, and it is my goal to build out recruiting strategies where we have representation, in all aspects, at every step of the recruitment process.

How did you land in your current role? What’s your favorite part of the job?

I have always had a passion for recruiting. In college, I was fortunate enough to work with Ohio State’s football recruiting office as a host to their players and families. However, when it was time for me to move to a new assignment at P&G, the last space that I thought I would end up in was Talent Acquisition. I saw the function as a place that slowed my business team down from hiring instead of enabling it. However, my manager sold me on the opportunity by telling me that I could be part of the solution to bring meaningful change to the organization. It was inspiring, and as I came into the role, I quickly learned how dynamic and complex the recruiting space is at a company as large as P&G. And that’s my favorite part of this job! I have a passion for trying to solve the “unsolvable” problems, and in the talent space, they’re unlimited. Every day is a new challenge, and once you bring meaningful change to one area, another challenge arises. 

What are some accomplishments you’re particularly proud of this year?

In my opinion, one of the greatest modernizations over the past couple of years in the campus recruiting space is the recruiting timeline. Traditionally, we would see the majority of our recruiting occur in October and November. However, we started to see a trend where top talent was receiving offers earlier and earlier. A key data point that we were fixated on was that 70% of talent will accept the first offer that they receive, and with that, we set out to accelerate our campus recruiting timeline. We took several steps including posting our requisitions sooner, utilizing Handshake to encourage applications from students before the peak fall season, and holding virtual events to build consideration and desire with these candidates so that we could process them through our funnel with greater efficiency. As a result, we were able to extend 85% more offers before October 15th than in previous years. Doing this enabled our teams to reach top talent sooner, focus more on closing the sale, and be even more hyper-focused later in the fall to fill our remaining spots.

This month is mental health awareness month. Can you share how P&G shows early talent that they’re committed to their mental health and wellness?

One new innovation that we are very excited to launch starting this year is offering certain parts of our MeQuilibrium program to candidates throughout the application process! MeQuilibrium, or meQ, is a stress management app designed to help P&G employees discover simple techniques to build their resilience and shift their response to stressful thoughts and actions. This is a benefit that we offer to all current US employees, and this year, we are very excited to be introducing it to candidates at a certain point in our application process! Applying and interviewing for jobs can be stressful, so we see this as a helpful tool for candidates to use throughout their process with us or any other companies that they may be applying to! It also gives them a sneak-peek into several of the great benefits that we offer our employees to reinforce the importance of prioritizing mental health and wellness!

Who are your heroes?

I’m a huge sports fan, and I get most of my inspiration from professional athletes that are at the top of their respective sport. Tom Brady, for example, fascinates me. To be clear, I’m not a Patriots or Buccaneers fan, but there has never been someone as dominant for an extended period of time in the NFL. I think it stems from how he approaches the process of continuously getting better that inspires me the most. I remember watching a press conference after a game that his team lost. In the game, Brady had one of the best games of his career. However, when asked about his thoughts on the loss, Brady said that he needed to be better. He said that he always focuses on what he can control, and he knew that there were parts of the game where he could have improved. As the leader of the team, he didn’t throw any of his teammates under the bus. Instead, he took on accountability and admitted where he could improve; even after statistically having a great game. There are several other stories from top athletes that I get my inspiration from, and it’s great because the inspiration comes out of one of my greatest passion areas of being a fan of sports! 

What advice would you offer to today’s jobseekers?

Don’t view your first role as the first day of the rest of your life. View it as the stepping stone to get you to where you want to go. Every opportunity I’ve had through college and within P&G has contributed to how I make an impact today, and in my next role, it will only continue to grow. Today’s job seekers shouldn’t be fixed on one career path or one career type. There are more options accessible to candidates than ever before, and companies (P&G included), are looking for individuals that have a passion to develop a multifaceted skill set. So look to round out your skillset, and view every opportunity as a chance to grow and learn something new!