If any job required a background in psychotherapy it might be a job in human resources (HR). That’s one of the reasons why Lewis Franco was cut out to be Concept2’s Human Resource Director. He holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and an undergraduate degree in Business Management. A good combination, right? We thought so, and Lewis was hired in 2007.
One needs to use a broad brushstroke to cover all that an HR department handles but in a nutshell, it’s all about the people—recruiting, hiring, training, developing, team building, handling benefits, and keeping up with tax and labor laws. Lewis is a team of one, and juggles it all very well and with a steady calm. Lewis says that his therapy training has taught him good listening skills and empathy. “Actively listening and hearing someone out before trying to solve a problem is important.”
Lewis’ interest in counseling came out of a period of time when he walked across the country—yes, walked—from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. on a peace march for nuclear disarmament. He had finished college at the University of Texas at Austin, spent the summer at Berklee School of Music and got a job in the music business. Disillusioned with what he felt was a “cutthroat and me-first industry,” he got involved in the peace march. Soon after the trek began, the march stalled in the Mojave Desert. The organizers declared bankruptcy and sent everyone home! However, Lewis and about 300 others decided to continue on their own. “It was an amazing learning experience about human behavior.” Ironically, the marchers had a hard time keeping peace within their ranks and routinely found themselves in conflict for various reasons. It was out of these internal group struggles and subsequent resolutions that Lewis found he had an interest in psychotherapy. After receiving his master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, he worked in the field for eight years doing individual and couples counseling, music therapy and stress reduction using exercise and mindfulness meditation.
He found his way into human resources after the intensity of working with chronically suicidal patients, juxtaposed with the birth of his first child, led him to seek some stress reduction of his own. He took an accounting job at a small Vermont renewable energy company but before long, started doing hiring, recruiting and HR as the company grew exponentially over a 10-year time period.
The common thread throughout Lewis’ life journey is music—he’s been playing guitar since age six and is a well-known Vermont singer, songwriter, and jazz and blues guitarist. He’s written and recorded four CDs and a collection of kids’ songs. His band, “Lewis Franco and the Missing Cats,” plays venues throughout the state. He even brings his musical talents to Concept2. He has played at company parties and leads the staff in singing “Happy Trails” (a favorite tradition!) when there’s a retirement.
Lewis lives in Maple Corner in Calais, Vermont, where he plays music, Wiffle Ball (he’s a 10-time Wiffle Fest Champion) and pond hockey. He is married to Heidi and has two children, Louisa (19) and Joe (15).