On Monday, March 2, SHRM@QU was able to engage in conversation with Guest Speaker: Brandy Roberts. Roberts is a Leadership Development Program Lead (Rotations) at AT&T. Roberts was able to discuss a typical day of working at her company, her greatest accomplishments and insight on careers in HR.
1) Can you tell us about your position (what does a typical day look like)?
On a typical day, I meet with participants in our program about where they are in their current position. My job is “leading leaders.” Currently, I have about 70 active participants in the program with 36 new people starting in July. The meetings I have with them typically take about an hour. We look at strengths and gaps as part of a performance appraisal. Their first rotation is on the front lines of core operations. We look at their undergraduate degree and training and place them outside of their comfort zone for this first rotation. This is meant to stretch them, to challenge them and to see their leadership ability.
1a) What is it like giving a 90 minute interview?
Exhausting, but you get into a rhythm and you get used to it. Sometimes I do 5 of them in one day. It’s also interesting to compare people side-by-side.
2) What training/education/degree is required for this career?
I have a unique background. This position is more relationship management, more development. So definitely having a background in HR helps. I am in the Talent Management arm of HR. I have had training through Talent Management workshops, but my undergraduate training was actually in Criminal Justice. You really need to focus on your transferable skills. I worked my way from the bottom up, starting with data entry in the aviation industry. Take opportunities that are given to you! I did marketing, trade shows, sales, management, etc. Management, Marketing, and Strategy are all great areas to learn.
3) What personal characteristics does someone need in order to be successful in this career?
Patience is #1. One of my colleagues is an HR Generalist, which allows for broad knowledge transfer. You also definitely need to be a people-person. I had about 62 meetings last week with our participants. Being organized also helps! Excel is key. Lastly, you have to be able to roll with the punches and be able to handle different personalities.
4) What do you like best about your job/career?
I couldn’t be happier. This has been a phenomenal opportunity for me. I get to see the ecosystem of AT&T from a bird’s-eye view, which allows me to continually learn. Leadership development and executive development are really cool areas.
5) What do you like least?
There is a stigma of HR, a fundamental bias that it’s a “complaint department.” But it is so much more than that. It’s talent management, diversity and inclusion. Thought goes into everything, which is an amazing thing.
6) What advice do you have for someone considering a career in this field?
Always remember that developing others is something everyone should do. Of course formal training is a plus, but never forget, working with different personalities, even if you disagree, developing them is the goal. Insecurities arise, so you need to be patient.
The SHRM@QU members greatly appreciated these words of wisdom. We would like to thank Brandy Roberts for taking the time out of her busy work schedule to talk with us about her career and share her advice.