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Did you back into HR?

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

Katherine Arroyo, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Class of '23

I've spoken with many Senior HR Professionals and we all seem to have one big thing in common. We did not start our careers in HR, nor had we even thought about going into HR when we were younger. Instead, HR was something we all "backed into", or sometimes "fell dramatically and uncontrollably" into. This is my condensed story.

I held many unrelated jobs during my early career. I found great success as a high-school algebra teacher, then I eventually moved into Finance and dabbled in a few HR-ish tasks. Then, unexpectedly, I landed a job in a manufacturing company, as an HR Manger. This is the "dramatic and uncontrolled" part of the story. The CFO had great faith in me and he knew I would eventually figure it all out. I was expected to know how to manage: benefits, payroll, compensation, succession planning, recruitment, employee relations (Union Relations in my case), FMLA, Workers' Compensation, and compliance.

Thus started my urgent journey into learning everything about HR. I studied hard and passed the PHR test. Then a few years later I received my SHRM-SCP. I found a graduate certificate program at Cornell and dove into Employment Law. My job provided new opportunities and I moved into Employee Relations and then HR Compliance, and that's where I found my true calling.

I really do, eat, sleep and enjoy all things HR Compliance. I'm obsessed with the "why" behind our governing laws and statutes. I want to cite case law and work on negotiations. I want to protect my employer from making employment lifecycle mistakes and help them avoid liability.

Tulane's MJ-LEL program has enhanced my future aspirations. I'm so lucky to be part of an amazing Cohort (Go Nachos) and I can't wait to complete this program! I may have backed into HR but it's part of who I am now. I honestly can't think of anything I would rather do.

Best wishes to all in Capstone!


This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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Jan 06, 2023

Kathy - this is great

Well written - like HR many people in my field back into it.

But you are an amazing HR leader 😎

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