Friday water cooler: President, astronaut…HR leader?

Readers share their journeys to HR.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.

Less than half (46%) of US college grads over the age of 25 work in the field they studied in school, according to data-analysis company Intelligent. That figure includes HR Brew’s reporters, who majored in psychology, music education, and history (we bet you can’t guess who studied what!).

Career-changing and reskilling have become increasingly hot trends, especially in recent years, as workers have sought to better align jobs with life goals. HR Brew asked readers how they found their way to HR—their answers may surprise you.

Chris Whaley, for example, founder at team-building consultancy Escape to Expand, said on LinkedIn that he went to school for aerospace engineering before working as a crime analyst. He finally landed in HR after transitioning into business project management.

Meanwhile, Margaret Rafferty, head of people and culture at hospitality company Convene, said she was always interested in HR, but didn’t take a direct route there. “I spent a year in the Caribbean after school, working as the first mate on a sailboat and bartending while I thought things through,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be in New York, so I moved back and started looking for jobs that were interesting to me. I ended up in a role in hospitality HR with a great mentor, and it stuck.”

Several readers said they started their careers in public service as police officers, teachers, and members of the armed forces. Cortney Lamar, an HR generalist for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in Florida, who was previously a police officer, told HR Brew that the people skills she learned while on the force have helped her in her current role. “They have a term…verbal Judo,” she explained. “It’s how to get people to comply with you without having to use any kind of force. So, learning how to talk to people is very important…and that has really helped with my current position.”

Mary Clermont, chief people officer at virtual assistant company Interactions, also served her community. “During my five years in the military, I achieved rank as a captain, company commander before pivoting to a more traditional career,” she wrote to HR Brew. Clermont later accepted a managerial role at PepsiCo, where she created a new university recruiting program that got her into HR.

Hey, you. Yes, YOU, there in the back. Was HR always in the cards, or has your career taken shape differently than you planned? What would you tell your high school self about choosing a career?

Join the discussion on HR Brew’s LinkedIn page, or reply to this email with your thoughts.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.