3M's SVP of HR Gets Honest about What's Great and What Could be Better about Working at 3M
Oct 15, 2018

3M was recently listed 21st on the World’s Best Workplaces list by Fortune and Great Place to Work, so we sat down with Kristen Ludgate, 3M’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, to chat about why she thinks 3M made the list, where 3M can continue to enhance the employee experience, and her career at 3M. 

How long have you been with 3M and what different titles have you held?

I always say people shouldn’t care about titles, so let’s just say in my almost 15 years with 3M I’ve had nine or so different roles across Legal, Enterprise Services and Human Resources at 3M and various external roles as well. 

And what drew you to 3M in the first place and why do you stay here?

3M is the best of all worlds. This one company is so rich in its diversity and reach that it can take you to many different geographies and industries. If you are a curious person, you can do and learn so many different things and work with amazing colleagues. 3Mers themselves are also what make me extremely excited to be here. It’s a special company with really special people. 

  • What characteristics make the people here so special in your opinion?

    So many things!  For my top three I would say 3Mers have high integrity and are highly creative and collaborative. 

  • As you know, 3M is a global company in every sense of the word. Where have you been able to travel during your time with 3M?

    Because of 3M, I’ve been able to travel beyond anything I ever would have imagined!   I’ve been all over the world in every region we do business. It’s incredible to see the geographic diversity of our company and how we can succeed in so many different markets.  Honestly, though, I’ve probably traveled less than many 3Mers. So many 3Mers are experiencing the world in many different ways – through various international assignments in addition to travel. 

  • 3M’s brand is all about improving lives all over the world. How do you see your work connecting to that?

    My job is to make 3M a great and energizing place to work for the more than 91,000 employees we have all over the world. People spend so much of their time and energy at work, so we need to deliver a great and supportive experience. We are working to empower employees by giving them flexibility to choose where and when they work. We also want to give employees the tools to improve lives outside of their normal roles through our 3M Impact and 3Mgives service programs. And, we all need help sometimes, so we provide employee assistance and health and wellness support to make sure our employees are taking care of themselves. 

  • 3M didn’t make Fortune’s Global List of Best Places to Work last year, so in what ways do you think our employee experience has improved?

    3M has always been a great place to work! We’ve recently put a lot of focus on being people-centered and making the workplace feel like home for many kinds of people. From a Human Resources standpoint, we’ve improved benefit plans and increased our focus on employee development. And, we’ve created sustainability goals that will increase diversity in leadership teams. 

    Improving the employee experience is a journey that never ends – the progress we’ve made this far is due to efforts that have been happening for quite a while.  This includes the great work by our Employee Resource Networks, who help drive employee engagement, provide development opportunities, and ensure we are hearing from diverse communities within 3M.  Delivering on business results and still making 3M a great place to work will continue to be a goal of ours well into the future.  In fact, we can only deliver for our customers through our employees, so supporting our teams is a business priority in addition to the right thing to do!

  • That’s all great to hear. Where do you think there’s still room to improve?

    Right now we are working on two specific sustainability goals – doubling the pipeline of diverse talent in management and providing development opportunities for 100% of our people to unlock the potential of those who already work here.  Continuing to drive toward these goals is a priority.  

    Another area of the employee experience we are working to improve is in inclusion. We want 100% of our employees to feel like they belong here, so asking what we can do to make 3M even more inclusive is super important.   As the number of employees who have been here less than five years continues to grow, we are also thinking a lot about onboarding and working hard to understand how the workforce of the future is changing in terms for what they are looking for from an employer.

  • You mentioned listening to what employees want. What are some ways in which employees can share their feedback about 3M and how do you use that information to make changes in the company?

    We have an open door – we want to hear directly from our employees. I encourage employees to talk to their managers, HR professionals and people in their Employee Resource Networks about how we can continue to make positive change. 

    We also survey our employees for their opinions often and pay attention to external venues like Glassdoor and Indeed, then look at how we can take action from those items. We are also looking at new ways to crowdsource ideas from across our workforce. In fact, we are launching a global crowdsourcing initiative this week to ask 3Mers how they experience 3M’s culture and workplace—what’s great about being here and where we can improve.  I’m excited to hear what people have to say!


  • One of the things that employees pointed out in the Fortune survey was the emphasis on professional and career advancement at 3M. Can you speak to specific ways 3M encourages professional advancement for its employees?

    We are very serious about that at 3M – people spend a lot of time in their careers here, and we all need to keep learning and growing together to keep up with a fast-changing world. Besides the sustainability goal I mentioned of developing 100% of our employees, we encourage employees to develop through rich career paths,  overseas assignments,  Lean Six Sigma roles, and a large variety of virtual learning and development programs. 

    Giving employees freedom to develop has a long history at 3M.  Since the 1950’s, we’ve encouraged our employees to take the time to innovate outside of their normal jobs through our  15% culture. And we encourage them to partake in service projects around the world through 3M Impact, our global pro bono program, and other volunteer opportunities around the world.

  • What advice would you give to those interested in a career with 3M?

    First, think broadly about 3M!  We are a science company, and we attract top STEM talent from around the world, but we also hire across so many business and functional disciplines.   We accommodate many different career paths here, and in fact you can have different careers in one company due to our diverse businesses.  

    Second, know that learning and curiosity are at the heart of what makes people happy here – for scientists and everyone else!  3M is a place for people who pursue bold ideas and enjoy working together to do it.

    Third, keep building your skills. Know what your domain expertise is and ground yourself in that but keep building upon it and be willing to stretch into new areas. 

  • Is there anything else that you want current employees or job candidates to know about working at 3M?

    3M is a place where we do business the right way, focus on serving our customers, and make the world better.  There are so many opportunities here, but to me what makes 3M really special is how we work together every day.  I’m proud to be a 3Mer!

  • Interested in being employed at one of the world’s best places to work?

    Join our talent community to learn how your skills might be a fit at 3M when an opportunity opens up.

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