Alum Discovers Career Path through Successful Internship and First Job
A successful internship and a company that created a role for her were the springboards Cassie Childers-Harmer ‘07/MBA ’08 needed to get a foothold in the field of human resources. Eleven years later, her work in HR as Director of Compensation Administrative Services for one of the largest supermarket operators in the United States is being recognized, as she is named one of the Top Women in Grocery (TWIG) nationally.
Presented by the publication Progressive Grocer, the TWIG awards program recognizes the integral role women play across all segments of the North American food retail and grocery industries. Harmer was recognized as a Rising Star, and several achievements were included in Progressive Grocer’s listing:
Harmer managed compensation programs and processes for all Ahold Delhaize USA companies (Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford, and Stop & Shop), supporting more than 240,000 associates. She steered the department through multiple company reorganizations; she led all compensation-cycle work related to merit programs, with nearly 100% accuracy; and she effectively managed short- and long-term incentive plans. She also helped build an online knowledge center dedicated to compensation documents. A member of World at Work and the Society for Human Resources Management, Harmer was chosen to attend an executive development program at the University of North Carolina’s business school.
And it all began at York College, where Harmer commuted to class and worked throughout her years as a student. A homeschooler, she enrolled in the College’s Dual Degree Program, which allowed her to earn both a degree in Marketing and an MBA in five years.
“I have told anybody I can tell about a program like that, because it was so great for me,” she said. “It was a big commitment, but I was able to get my master’s in just a year. I worked full-time, but it can be done.”
Harmer recalls her “incredible experience” at the College’s Business School (now called the Graham School of Business), which included mentorship from faculty members Mary and Chris Meisenhelter. “The Meisenhelters were key leaders within the School,” she said, “and well-known in the community.” Chris put her in touch with Voith-Hydro during her junior year, as they were looking for a Marketing major who would help them with the intranet site within their HR department. “When I came in, I got a lot of exposure to their HR department, and I did a lot of things. I ended up staying in HR after graduation.”
Her next move was an entry-level benefits role with a company called Harsco Corporation, an environmental solutions company that was at the time based in South Central Pennsylvania. “They took a chance on me,” Harmer said. “They had a great leadership team who really taught me about HR. They saw potential, so they created a role – a generalist role – that allowed me to rotate through various areas of HR.”
Harmer worked in benefits first, then in HRIS (HR Information Systems), then in compensation, an area she never left. “That really meshed well with my skill set, what I like to do,” she said. “I then went to Ahold USA’s Retail Business Services (RBS), which is my current company.”
Harmer and her family – husband, Brandon, and daughter, Amelia – are active members of Pleasant View Church in Red Lion, PA. Continuing the work she started as a teenager, she leads worship as part of a team and leads a small bible study group. Her daughter is a student at York Country Day School, an affiliate of York College. “We toured YCDS right before the pandemic, and we just knew this was the right fit. They have an incredible staff and community for our daughter to learn and grow.”
Harmer looks forward to growing with RBS, and she is very proud of who she works for. “We care about families eating well, that’s what it is about. The market and the world are changing, so there will be a never-ending set of opportunities in the future. We have an incredible leadership team that supports my development.”
And how does she feel about being named a Rising Star for TWIG? “For me, it’s truly a reflection of my team and what we’ve accomplished together,” Harmer said. “I wouldn’t be the recipient without my team members, who see a problem and figure out how to fix it, for both internal and external partners. As the saying goes, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ ”