Forrest Cook, Senior Consultant – Employee Benefits & HR

Forrest Cook will tell you that he is unabashedly a gearhead–his late mother even joked that his first word was “Chevrolet.” From the time he was a small boy, Forrest absolutely loved cars. That childhood delight has turned into an adult appreciation that has spanned the decades since. “I typically own three to five cars at any given time and really enjoy the overall concept of the design and the freedom they provide,” Forrest says. “I go to auctions and car shows as a hobby—it’s something I can really get lost in.”

With 1,400 model cars, auto memorabilia, literature and books, Forrest has become his friends’ go-to for advice when purchasing their next automobile. And for the kids in the neighborhood, he has a place set up for them to come play with his Hot Wheels. “I love being able to share my collection with friends and children in particular,’ he says. “It’s a thrill to watch them get excited about it.”

Just like his fascination with all things gear-related, Forrest is as passionate about his job as senior consultant at Valent Group. Before coming to the company in May 2014, he served as vice president of Human Resources and Risk Management for NCP Solutions, director of Human Resources for Healthcare Realty Management/Healthcare Realty Trust, director of Human Resource for Southeast Health Plan and as a professional recruiter for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “This job is a good blend of all the things I’ve done before,” Forrest explains. “I’ve brought several friends and their businesses to the company—it’s the ultimate networking adventure.”

Every day is completely different from the one before and there is no typical day scenario. “I work with our customers on compliance issues with laws, regulations and the Affordable Care Act, designing benefits offerings, consulting on Human Resources matters, interpreting and creating policy,” Forrest says. “The best part is the interaction with the clients and companies I work with and getting to know their organizations. I truly become part of their team as well.”

Although he is very involved with professional associations, particularly the Birmingham and Alabama HR State Councils, another organization close to Forrest’s heart is the Birmingham Humane Society, where he serves on the board of directors. After his dog died last year, the employees helped him adopt a perfect little dog named Frisbee to replace the one he lost. A miniature Australian shepherd/Pomeranian mix, Frisbee loves to run like crazy and play with his toys with his dad. Forrest is an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal and reads several more newspapers online. He also enjoys spending time outdoors at his retreat on Smith Lake, at the beach or traveling. “One of my favorite places I have ever visited was Vancouver, British Columbia,” he says. “It is a fusion of Asia, Europe and North America where you have the best of the mountains, a world class city and international cultures. I would love to go there again.”

We love sharing our team and will be sharing more employee spotlights soon. In the meantime, check out more about Forrest and his role in our leadership team.