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Leander LeSure, ’95 MA-IR

As vice president of human resources and relationship leader for global technologies, information management, and mergers/acquisitions at American Express in New York City, Leander LeSure has a wide array of responsibilities. Among other tasks, he also juggles business strategy development, performance management, talent assessment, organizational design and effectiveness, compensation management, employee engagement, and employee relations. The knowledge and support he received from the HRIR program at the Carlson School has been integral to his success, he says.
        One insight LeSure gleaned from the program was a big-picture understanding of how the various pieces of HRIR fit together. “The Carlson School provided the fundamentals of understanding all facets of HR—compensation, staffing, training, and labor relations,” he says. “The coursework was designed with all of those elements in mind.” Case in point: the program’s strong focus on statistics. “I remember thinking, ‘Why am I taking a year of statistics?’” he says. “But it’s really a problem-solving approach. It was beyond just learning statistics—it was learning how to apply it to business and human resources problems. I think that way today. In my current role at American Express, I am responsible for leading and managing different facets of human resources, so understanding the relationships between them is very critical. You can’t manage them in isolation; they heavily influence each other.”
        The Carlson School HRIR staff and faculty are another strong suit, LeSure says. In particular, he credits Professor John Fossum for his encouragement. “John knew how I was doing every step of the way,” he says. When LeSure graduated, he thanked Fossum for all he had done. Fossum’s response has stayed with LeSure. “He said, ‘If you feel you are always in debt to something, you will always keep paying back,’” LeSure says.
        LeSure continued his involvement by serving on the Carlson School Alumni Board for three years. “It is about giving back because the program provided such great support for me,” he says. “If it weren’t for the staff and professors like John Fossum, I would not be where I am in my career.”

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