Mark Petrarca among winners of Milwaukee Business Journal HR Awards


Mark PetrarcaMilwaukee, Wis. —A. O. Smith Senior Vice President Human Resources and Public Affairs, Mark Petrarca, is among the winners of the 2016 Milwaukee Business Journal HR Awards.

According to the Business Journal, the awards were established to recognize the important work individuals, companies and organizations do in the field of human resources to make southeastern Wisconsin firms and organizations successful.

The main requirements were that a company or organization nomination be based on an HR program or practice currently in operation, or recently completed, and that the program/practice be the result of an organization’s own work and not that of a consultant.  Nominations were then vetted by a panel of judges made up of local HR professionals and editor in chief, Mark Kass.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ajita Rajendra, nominated Petrarca for his outstanding work in helping develop a human resources strategy designed to support the business while underscoring the people characteristics the company needed in order to remain successful, which was later named the People Strategy.

In 2006, Petrarca and his team introduced a “People Strategy” focused on the concepts of developing and sustaining a culture of employee excellence. At the same time, Petrarca created a global Human Resources leadership team to provide strategic oversight and governance to the HR function at A. O. Smith.

The People Strategy defines Employee Excellence as a “collection of highly skilled, well-informed employees who are engaged in their work and focused on sustained superior performance.” To achieve this state, the People Strategy focuses on the five elements identified as making A. O. Smith a good place to work:  Attractive Work Environment; Competitive Total Compensation Package; Opportunities for Development; Open Communications; and Recognition for Achievement. 

“Mark has really been the driving force behind the global Human Resources leadership team, which worked together to develop an HR strategy that has helped us attain and retain the very best employees around the world,” notes Ajita.

The winners’ profiles will be published in the May 20 issue of the Milwaukee Business Journal and they will be honored at a special event in downtown Milwaukee on the same day.

Below is a complete list of 2016 HR Awards recipients:


  • Publicly Held Companies - GMR Marketing
  • Large Private Companies (more than $250 million in revenue) - West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., American Transmission Co.
  • Medium Private Companies($50 million to $250 million) - Dohmen
  • Small Private Companies(less than $50 million) - Trans International, Guaranty Bank


  • Publicly Held Companies - Mark Petrarca, A. O. Smith Corp.
  • Medium Private Companies - Leslie Angove, Ridgestone Bank
  • Government - Maria Monteagudo, city of Milwaukee
  • Challenge Award - Karla Barillas, St. Anthony School