Coworking with Stephanie Standish

VP, administration at Retail Industry Leaders Association
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Stephanie Standish

· 4 min read

On Wednesdays, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with HR Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Stephanie Standish wears many hats at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), where she spearheads the organization’s admin, accounting, IT, and HR functions. HR is particularly near and dear to her because it has been a department of one for more than seven years. Though Standish fell into HR when her predecessor retired, her diverse professional background has made her uniquely qualified to tackle the complex role.

How would you describe your specific job to someone who doesn’t work in HR?

In the trade association world, I would describe it as a “Jill of all trades, master of none” situation. I own the HR portfolio as a department of one, but I also oversee operations, IT, and accounting—all the infrastructure necessary to run a successful business.

Do you feel like you were thrown into your HR role? Did you have mentors?

I would say it was definitely a trial by fire. One thing that I think…made me successful is that I’m a good project manager. If I was not a good project manager, I don’t think I would have been able to navigate all of the different responsibilities that come with the role. I did have six months of a mentor…shadow[ing] the lady who was retiring.

What’s the best change you’ve made at a place you’ve worked?

Moving everything from paper to digital in 2017, my first year in the position. I was even on the Zoom bandwagon in 2018, well before Covid. I’m also proud of subtle changes I’ve proposed and executed in the last few years that create a more inclusive and authentic environment. Our dress-code policy is “dress for your day,” which allows you to bring your authentic self to work (of course, no explicit or offensive gear), and flex PTO allows for unlimited PTO so employees can do what they want—get your work done, but life is short...enjoy it!

What’s the biggest misconception people might have about your job?

That HR is always waiting in the wings to find fault with employees. Or that we’re not approachable—most of us are! The future of HR to me is [being] business partners in all things, instead of just this person you talk to when you get in trouble or need a benefit. We’re much more dynamic than that. You partner with us on hiring, DE&I, operations, safety. There’s so many different things that [HR] touches, that it can’t just be someone who sits up there away from people and doesn’t interact with them or help them.

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What’s the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

The humans I get to spend much of my time with. [As a] small team of 50, we are family.

What trend in HR are you most optimistic about? Why?

Not sure “optimistic” is the right word, but I’m most excited about the possibilities of HR in the metaverse. The possibilities are endless in terms of creative ways to tackle the future of work—I’m still wrapping my mind around it, and trying to figure out how to tackle it before everyone else catches on!

What trend in HR are you least optimistic about? Why?

Recruiting and retaining talent. As a small nonprofit, I have to be creative in competing with large and benefit-rich organizations as they continue to offer more of everything…Our messaging is really around the culture of flexibility and access to leadership that we can provide…You can have all these benefits and great little treats and stuff like that at larger, benefit-rich companies…We can offer, because of our size, a more intimate and collaborative work environment that other companies might not be able to.

Tell us one new or old HR tech product or platform that’s made your life easier, and why.

Built for Teams. As a small company and HR department of one, I needed a software platform that was easy to use and budget friendly. Built for Teams is my one-stop shop for recruiting, onboarding, position management, PTO tracking, and time management. Best of all, the employees like using it because it is so easy to use. I recommend!

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

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