While Michele Davis may have transitioned from a profession in sales to one in human resources, the talents to be a successful and respected HR practitioner come easily to her.
From her sales background, Michele brings a deep understanding of working with large data sets and performing complex analyses. With her extraordinary time commitment to volunteering comes a human perspective and empathy. Put the two together, and Michele has what it takes to not only understand the business of HR, but the ability to engage with people to make a company run smoothly.
It’s this collision between volunteering and sales that brought Michele to HR.
“While I love to advocate for those who cannot help themselves, what I love most about HR is that I’m given the opportunity to get to the heart of any problem so that people need not be rescued at all,” she explains. “For example, if I can utilize my skill set of reading and analyzing large datasets with my ability to empathize and communicate to get ahead of my company’s employee attrition, I will have saved the company the overhead cost of replacing a valued employee and have helped employees become more engaged in their job.”
And that’s exactly what Michele did while working as a Human Resource Coordinator at WageWorks. There, Michele had been running monthly and quarterly turnover reports and annualized them to predict future turnover based on trends within each business unit. In the process of running and analyzing these reports, Michele found that a certain business unit was showing an upward trend in turnover. That’s when Michele stepped in.
“The HR generalist team and I discussed ways we could engage that group. We discussed filling empty seats so that the team would be less stretched,” Michele describes. “We talked about hosting quarterly or bi-monthly employee appreciation events to thank them for their hard work and long hours. After many months of these appreciation events, employees across the site and in the business unit where turnover was trending up began to engage in the activities and with other employees on the floor. I saw a general boost in morale from these activities based on employee feedback and personal observations.”
It is these types of real-world situations and work challenges that Michele brings to each of her Human Resource Management classes—both online and in the classroom. Working toward attaining the full certificate, Michele is currently taking Employee Relations, her fourth course in the curriculum. Michele is also one of our 2018 Scholarship Winners, allowing her to take another course this year in a financially strapped situation: Not only is she paying back her student loans, but she’s also saving to take care of her parents in retirement.
“I am the first one of my family to graduate from university, and am eager to further this success into an opportunity to take care of my family in the future, as they have been my greatest support.”
What has your experience been in the courses you’ve already taken?
I took the first two courses online, and would like to highlight Systems and Technology instructor Jun Cruzat. He facilitated the online class discussions in such a way that it was impossible to feel disengaged with the course. He personally FaceTimed each student to hear about their interests, goals and aspirations in relation to the course and HR in general.
At the time, I was coordinating the RFP process for my company, WageWorks, to get a new HRIS system, and he was a great resource for me to ask questions. This course also challenged me to engage with and leverage social media platforms in a new way at work, stretch video presentation skills, and research new technology vendors that were out of my ken.
The most recent course I completed was Talent Management and Workforce Development. This was the first course I took in person on Saturdays, and I highly recommend this method of instruction as it was exciting to have class discussions in person, work in groups and network with other professionals who are also passionate about human resources. I made some great friends in this course!
That course instructor, Ron Coverson, has a lot of great experiences and industry insights to share based on his expertise and many years of experience in his own career. Ron encouraged us to think critically and creatively about situations we have encountered in our careers, as well as situations we had not yet encountered or thought of. Talent management relates to every aspect of HR; it helped me confirm that I’m on the right path in my career as I begin to focus on people management and business consulting, as well as the HRIS foundation upon which my career began.
Instructor Jun Cruzat on Michele: “A highly intelligent student, Michele generously shared her knowledge and experience in HR systems with the other students, providing helpful framework and context to today’s technology environment. Her yearning to continue to grow in her HR expertise showed up in myriad ways—through her creative wiki project addressing a problematic leave process to her participation and insightful questions during the course of the semester.”
In addition to implementing staff appreciation events while at WageWorks, have there been other examples of bringing lessons learned in class to your work?
The Systems and Technology course helped me to create an organized process charter, think of critical questions to include in the HRIS RFP and build a business case for the executives who would be approving the new HR system.
The Talent Management and Workforce Development course was great practice in project management and implementing talent management processes at a small or large scale within companies. I can see myself continuing to utilize skills learned in this course as my career progresses.
As you continue toward completing the certificate, how would you move the HR field forward?
HR has been historically viewed as an administrative field, which will always be an important part of HR; however, I think that HR professionals can continue to move the needle forward on becoming more strategic consultants to our employees and business partners by utilizing all the metrics and technology at our fingertips.
I began my career with an HRIS systems focus and have moved into an operational role at Guidewire Software where I can become more employee-facing. I’m passionate about helping employees find purpose and growth in their career, become more engaged with the company, and resolve issues with coworkers or leaders when they arise. I plan to move my career toward a Human Resource Business Partner position in a couple of years.