A lot of HR professionals might tell you that they fell into an HR career. I feel I was directly led to HR by virtue of my previous experiences. The combination of what I achieved and what I was interested in – namely, purposeful work – led me to HR, a field I’ve now worked in for more than 20 years. Don’t get me wrong, not every role in my work history was for a purpose-driven company. BUT my passion to do ‘purposeful work’ did finally bring me to Televerde. And the work I do today is the most purposeful of my entire career!
Here’s a little background for you: I started my first job in HR because I had ZERO HR experience. That doesn’t make much sense, does it? It sure sounds like I fell into HR, but I still hold firm to my point that I was led to this profession. At the time, the experience I did have was in healthcare and business. I began my university days as a nursing student but learned very quickly – when I had to give shots in my first class – that nursing was not for me. I switched my focus and pursued a degree in business and finance instead. When I graduated, I applied for a job at Star Expansion as a benefits coordinator, a role in which I was responsible for paying retiree pharmacy claims.
Here’s where the ‘led’ part came into play – I was hired because I had a combination of business and healthcare experience, not because I knew anything about benefits or HR, for that matter. I understood the business, which was the most important part – and still is to me today.
I would describe the next part of my career as “Take a Leap and Trust in Yourself.” A prime example of this was in 2006 when I had to decide – with just one weekend to think it over – whether to pack up and move to Paris to take on the biggest gig of my professional career (at the time). I worked for a big French bank in their New York office and was offered a role in Paris… an excellent job opportunity that I didn’t know how to do, on a continent in which I never lived!
If you haven’t already guessed, I took the job and was determined to figure out how to do it. I had done back-office HR (benefits, compensation, expat stuff) in the past, but I was tasked to create the bank’s global Top Talent Identification and Development program. What the heck did I just sign myself up for?
I had no reason to have this job, but my boss saw something in me that I didn’t even know was there. And I was just gutsy enough to trust him and smart enough to learn as fast as I could. They asked me to stretch to my full potential and so I did. I’m thankful I did because my career has since continued to blossom and how much I love my work has greatly enhanced.
So, because I persisted, kept taking leaps, and trusted in myself to do what I had never done before, I found my calling.
Today, I’m an executive at Televerde, responsible for growing the business through its people. We provide sales and marketing services to B2B businesses – many of whom are household names in the technology world. It’s my job to make sure our business hums by focusing on the employee experience. We emphasize working together as a team and we develop talent to ensure we can meet our clients’ goals.
Aside from helping our clients’ businesses grow, where does purposeful work come in? It’s our business model and our lifeline for success. Televerde runs its contact centers inside women’s prisons in Arizona and Indiana. We have highly trained and highly impactful contact center team members who return incredible value for our clients.
Much like my former boss saw something in me and asked me to stretch myself for the job in Paris, we see something in people that most companies don’t – talent, desire to learn, and a hunger to change their lives. We help these employees stretch themselves to learn new skills, dig really deep into the technical nature of our clients’ offerings, and be the best of the best in the business. And time after time, they prove that they are!
Our team members on the inside learn marketable job skills they can use once they “graduate” from prison. Recidivism (the rate at which people return to prison) amongst Televerde “graduates” is a fraction of the national average because we focus on their professional development, self-esteem, and ability to support themselves (and their families). There is definitely purpose in that!
So no, I did not fall into an HR career. The culmination of my education, my experiences, and my passion to do purposeful work led me to my role with Televerde.
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Author: Lynne Oldham
As Chief People Officer, Lynne transforms HR teams into value-added business partners by focusing on developing people, organizational capabilities and competitive growth.