Why I love working in HR | 15 HR experts explain why they love what they do, and their top career tips

Why I love working in HR | 16 HR experts explain why they love what they do, and their top career tips

Working in HR can sometimes be hard – but it can also be immensely rewarding. Day in, day out, you can be juggling a whole range of spinning plates, constantly trying to make sure one doesn’t drop. Whilst at the same time, doing your best to support your company’s biggest asset – their people.

Well we thought we’d share a bit of well overdue HR love.

We’ve scoured the globe to speak to some of the world’s leading HR and People experts to find out: what makes them tick? What do they love about working in the sector? And what are their top career tips?

Their answers are enough to spread a bit of extra joy to your job this week; and remember why you love what you do, too.

Read on to see what they say; and if you want to share the love some more, why not let us know on Twitter, why you love working in the sector, too.

1.  Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and co-founder and principal at the RBL Group: ‘Be clear about what you want, who you serve, how you build, and where you are’

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘I wrote a tribute to HR professionals where I compliment HR professionals for being the emotional care givers as organizations go through the trauma of social disruption. HR professionals are learners who seek new ways to solve old problems, enablers who make others better, and value creators who help all stakeholders win.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
Don’t run up sand dunes. I do this by being clear about what I want, who I serve, how I build, and where I am.’

Connect with Dave on Twitter or Linkedin.

2.  We’re given a chance to create meaningful and lasting relationships, says Aadil Bandukwala, evangelist at predictive outbound hiring solution Belong

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘Everyday we’re given a chance to create meaningful and lasting relationships, learn new things, live our passions and solve complex problems that can impact the lives of millions of people. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the HR industry for a little over a decade now and am grateful for the lessons it has taught me. Creating lasting relationships and a strong belief in Steve Jobs’ maxim “the journey is the reward” is what inspires me and brings me to work every single day with much enthusiasm.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘One of my mentors shared this quote with me which has stayed with me for years: “If one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings” by Gustave Flaubert.’

Connect with Aadil on Twitter or Linkedin.

3.  My best career advice? Do what you love, says Josh Bersin, principal and founder, Bersin by Deloitte 

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘I love helping HR professionals improve their companies, and I love the profession itself. It’s a complex and very important domain, and most HR professionals are passionate, hard-working, collaborative people.

‘I also love studying data, understanding how the economy and political factors weigh into HR strategies, and how technology continues to impact HR strategies and solutions. It’s a fascinating, growing, very important part of business – and as AI and more technology enters the workplace, HR strategies have become CEO-level issues in topics like engagement, reskilling, digital leadership, and organizational redesign.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘My father taught me many years ago (and he lived this way) to do what you love. I never really focused on money or position in my career, I always gravitated towards jobs, work, and companies I truly enjoyed. By doing that I developed a series of wonderful career experiences and it has all been wonderfully fulfilling.’

Connect with Josh on Twitter or Linkedin.

4.  Gemma Dale, co-founder of The Work Consultancy, and HR writer, coach, speaker and blogger of People Stuff says to never stop learning

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘The opportunity to make people’s working lives better, even in a small way.’

What’s been the best piece of career advice anyone’s ever given you?
‘Never stop learning.’

Connect with Gemma on Twitter or Linkedin.

5.  It’s the passion that still inspires me, says David D’Souza, head of engagement and learning at CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘I love working in a profession that is still maturing and exploring different ways to make a difference. One of the benefits of my role is getting to speak to a range of HR leaders doing great work, but also to see the next generation of practitioners coming through. It is meeting the students coming through and seeing their passion and ambition that really inspires me.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘Serve by leading and lead by serving. It keeps things nice and simple – you are here to support others, and sometimes that means you have to lead them.’

Connect with David on Twitter or Linkedin.

6.  ‘Businesses don’t serve people – employees serve people’ explains Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at the Lighthouse Research & Advisory and host of ‘We’re Only Human’ podcast.

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘I’ve worked as an HR leader for an Inc. 500-ranked technology start-up and in various other roles across the HR field over the years, and the thing I loved then (and still do) is that people are the core of the business. Businesses don’t serve people – employees serve people.

‘Businesses don’t make products – people make products. And that concept of the workplace being a very ‘human’ place to be doesn’t change despite all the automation that we’re seeing; it’s [actually] a chance to be more human and stand out from the crowd.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘The best manager I ever had did a wonderful job of coaching me and encouraging me to explore areas of HR until I found out what I did and didn’t like. If I was going to give that advice to others, it would be to continuously explore and experiment within the HR profession to find which specialties and options are most compelling and exciting, and then spend more time trying to do those kinds of things. Don’t settle for being average at everything – be great at something.’

Connect with Ben on Twitter or Linkedin.

7.  Dr Tanvi Gautam’s best piece of career advice came from her grandfather. Tanvi is founder of the Leadershift Inc, a keynote speaker, and C-suite adviser

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘Best piece of advice I ever got was from my grandfather – “always leave a place better than you found it”. It has been a theme in all institutions and clients I have been associated with. It drives me to learn more, to do more and be more. If we all did that bit to make it a little better, imagine the world we would live in!’

Connect with Tanvi on Twitter or Linkedin.

8.  Gautam Ghosh is a consultant at talent advisory services at VBeyond Corporation, a search and RPO consultancy

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘As a consultant in HR I get to interact with a variety of people in different industries – and every interaction is a learning opportunity.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘Always look out to the edge – that’s where the next wave of change is coming from.’

Connect with Gautam on Twitter or Linkedin.

9.  My best career advice? Work out who you are and be that, says Jon Ingham, HR and organization development consultant at Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Services, and author of ‘The Social Organization’ 

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘There are some great people working in HR. I love working with them. We just need to ensure that our search for business relevance doesn’t detract from what makes us so special in the first place. We should be spending at least as much time encouraging people in the rest of our businesses to become more like us, as we do trying to become more like them.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘Work out who you are and be that.’

Connect with Jon on Twitter or Linkedin

10.  If I can help someone thrive, then I’ve added something to this world, explains Susan LaMotte, founder & CEO of exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘The simple fact is jobs are vital to our society and our worth as human beings. If I can play one small part in helping someone find a workplace and employer where they can thrive, add value and be valued, then I’ve added something to this world we live in.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘Don’t lead your work. Let it lead you. I absolutely love what I do and from that one piece of advice have learned a great deal about where to spend my time and energy.’

Connect with Susan on Twitter or Linkedin.

11.  Founder of HR Bartender blog Sharlyn Lauby loves that HR is never boring, and always challenging. Sharlyn is also president of ITM Group Inc

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘One of the things I love about HR is that it’s constantly growing and changing. From compliance with new laws and legislation, to technology and employee expectations. It’s never boring and always challenging.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘My father-in-law told me: “Live where you want to live and then go find a job there.”’

Connect with Sharlyn on Twitter or Linkedin.

12.  Lisa Rosendahl, human resources director at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and co-founder and editor of Women of HR blog shares the two things that keep her coming back

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘Over my many years in HR, there are two things that keep me coming back. [Firstly], The variety of work that comes into the department each day. We work with everything from recruitment, benefits, and pay administration, to labor, employee relations and workforce development. It keeps me and my staff on our toes.

‘[Secondly], the people I work with. I have had the honor of working with some of the most dedicated HR professionals in the field and look forward to coming to see what they are going to do to solve a problem, provide a resource, or improve a process to the benefit of our customers and staff.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘I have had the benefit of mentors and coaches over the years but the best piece of career advice I received was when I was first starting out, frustrated that another colleague (obviously much less qualified than I) received a plum assignment I had my eye on. The advice went like this…

‘“You are responsible for your own career. Stop thinking that if you work hard and do a good job people will notice. They are too busy working on their own careers. Uncomfortable as it may seem, tell people what you’ve accomplished, why it’s important to them and to you – and never forget those who helped you along the way.”’

Connect with Lisa on Twitter or Linkedin.

13.  HR is the internal organs that give companies life, explains Shally Steckerl, chief sourcing guru and founder at The Sourcing Institute and author of The Talent Sourcing & Recruitment Handbook

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘Exposure. There is no other department in an organization with such a wide berth. HR, and particularly recruiting, is involved in all levels of an organization top to bottom, and in every function of the company. People are the most important and valuable part of a company; HR is the internal organs that give it life.’

Best piece of career advice ever given you?
‘Ask more than you tell. Listen before questioning. Understanding comes through observation without expectation.’

Connect with Shally on Twitter or Linkedin.

14.  No day is ever the same, says John Thurmond, regional human resources manager at Team Fishel, and co-host of Twitter chat #HRSocialHour

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘I started my career as a teacher and ‘fell’ into HR.  Since then, I’ve worked in several industries and with companies from 200 to 20,000 employees.  I like the fact that no day is ever the same and that I truly learn constantly. The HR people I’ve gotten to know from working together and via social media globally are some of the best people ever!’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘“Take time for you.” Human Resources pros help a lot of people (management, employees, and peers) every day and often forget to find ways to better themselves. If it’s reading blogs, taking part in a Twitter chat, or attending an industry event, be sure to find ways to take that time for you.’

Connect with Jon on Twitter or Linkedin.

15.  Getting the right people working in the right ways means companies can achieve more than they ever imagined, says Perry Timms, founder and chief energy officer at PTHR (People and Transformational HR) and author of ‘Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business Strategy’

What do you love about working in the HR sector?
‘That business and work is all about people. Companies have very little true value outside of their people.  Machines, products, buildings, and even brands can all be replicated by others – but how you get the best people for your organisation, do best by them and for them, and let them do their best, means the difference.

‘So, I love working in this sector because of the inputs and ideas I can bring to help more workplaces de-mechanize and re-humanize. It saddens me that so many of us tolerate our work when we should celebrate it as part of who we are.  It should be beyond the salary for as many of us as possible.

‘If Elon Musk is revered for his audacious entrepreneurialism, it’s also clear that some influential HR professionals can help him realise his vision by getting the right people involved in all the right ways to deliver on Hyperloop, Space X, Tesla and more. Without great HR Elon might not be as successful as his dreams. With the best HR support, he could even see things go beyond some of his imagination.’

Best piece of career advice ever given to you?
‘”It’s  not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”. It was from a book by Paul Arden and I gift a copy of this to whoever I want to help the most. Essentially, it’s not just your skills but your will too. Your drive could determine how clever, successful and impactful you are on others and the world.’

Connect with Perry on Twitter or Linkedin.

Why do you love working in HR? Let us know on Twitter by tweeting us @SagePeople. Or, want to find out more about what’s on the minds of HR and People leaders? Download our research report from 500+ HR leaders on the challenges facing the sector. 

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