Portfolio Company Spotlight: Q&A with Cheryl Wagner, Aerofil’s New HR Director

Aerofil Technology, Inc., a contract manufacturer that provides aerosol formulation and packaging capabilities, has recently named Cheryl Wagner as its new Human Resources Director. Learn what qualities she seeks in Aerofil candidates and why she is excited to be a member of the HBM portfolio company family.


Please tell us a little about your professional background. 

CW: My career has always focused on human resources, and I have a strong manufacturing background too. For the past five years, I worked at a global company called Rotometrics, where I handled HR in manufacturing plants and also at the corporate levels of the company. Before joining Aerofil, I had multi-site responsibility for all aspects of U.S. human resources management. That’s something I really enjoyed. In that role, I discovered the key to success is having strong leaders in your sites to help you move initiatives forward.

What interested you about the opportunity with Aerofil?

CW: When I interviewed, I was struck by the positive energy at Aerofil. There’s a lot of excitement around their new partnership with HBM — not only does Aerofil have a vision to become one of the best places to work, but they also have the support to make it a reality. Basically, you can feel the enthusiasm about the future of Aerofil and the fact that they have HBM behind them. At the leadership level, we have short-term and long-term plans for growth and truly being the best in the business. I can see that Aerofil has a lot of great people who will execute that vision, and I’m proud to be a part of that team.

What excites you about the partnership with HBM?

CW: I really appreciate their willingness to invest — whether it’s in our people, in developing best practices, or in other aspects of the business. And I’ve already found that HBM is supportive in ways that set it apart from other private equity firms. For example, when I worked at a portfolio company owned by another firm, I didn’t have the opportunity to interact much with that private equity firm. In fact, only my CEO and CFO did. But with HBM, it’s different. I like the amount of positive interaction and support that we get from them. And I like the reporting structure of having a dotted line up to the holding company.

What are you hoping to accomplish during your first 90 days as the Director of HR?

CW: The short-term goals are definitely recruiting and retention and then reviewing our policies to get us to a best-practice HR function. We’ll be looking at that as a whole to determine what we need to do to recruit and retain strong talent.

How do you view leadership development? What excites you about HBM’s leadership development initiatives — how do you envision rolling out some of those initiatives at Aerofil?

CW:  Leadership development is very important to me and to the success of an organization. When we invest in our leaders, it helps them have the right tools to support the culture the employees need and to drive the business. It also creates a positive environment when your leadership is being invested in — when they see that, they recognize that the company has their best interests at heart.

A few of my managers did participate in HBM’s Leadership in Action class. Their feedback has been very positive on lessons learned, and also on the level of interactivity within the class. We’re actually planning to host some additional Leadership in Action classes to get all of our supervisors, leaders and managers through this valuable instruction during the fall and winter.

If a person was interested in joining Aerofil, what would set that candidate apart in the interview process?

CW: I’d look for candidates who are energetic and upbeat, and who have the intelligence and strong drive needed for success. As we hire, I’m thinking about the exciting environment we’re building for Aerofil’s future. We need to hire people who have the qualities to support our vision, and I do think you can get a sense of that in an interview. You can definitely see somebody who has the right drive for success, based on some of their accomplishments.

Depending on the role we’re hiring for, I’ll look for somebody with a strong business mindset and understanding of manufacturing and how to take Aerofil to the next level. It’s truly an exciting time to be part of the Aerofil team. The vision of Aerofil — with the partnership of HBM investing in the company to encourage best practices and help support the growth of the business — makes it a very attractive employer from an HR standpoint.