Ellen McCrary could never answer the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Her frequent trips to the college advisor’s office to declare new majors resulted in enrollment in a three-day career assessment on campus. When the results arrived, she was told, “You scored high in each area, so you can be anything you'd like to be” . . . a frustrating conclusion. She maintained a 4.0 GPA during a whopping seven years of undergrad and eventually received an Education/Curriculum & Instruction bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigahs). After graduation, she chose homemaking to raise four kids on her family farm, later adding two bonus stepkids to the mix.
While helping with carpool at her child’s school, a parent approached her about a summer gig developing curriculum for the learning/development department at SGS. Founded in 1878, SGS is a Forbes “Global 2000,” which ranks the company among the largest in the world. The experience at SGS was key, because this afforded Ellen the opportunity to learn HR (human resources) the right way. By immersing herself in “best practice,” she was mentored in the most effective way possible. She quickly adapted and approached HR with a hunger that prepared her for advanced roles.
Ellen found HR to be the perfect blend of her experiences and knowledge, marrying the right brain with the left. “HR is an amalgam of creativity, data, leadership, compassion, knowledge, and the law,” says Ellen. “It’s a profession where my diverse interests converge within one job role.”
Now leading people operations at the oldest family-owned chocolate company in North America, Ellen and fellow executives receive abundant latitude to collaborate and elevate the employee experience. “We recently celebrated a product anniversary — the 100th anniversary of Heavenly Hash — and I partnered with a wholesaler to create home decor for the community. The products are now sold in boutiques across the gulf south, which enables our customers to celebrate our iconic candy tradition.” This is quite the opposite of her penchant for reading case law and spreadsheets!
When she isn’t working in the factory, Ellen enjoys eating her way through New Orleans with her husband, needlepointing kitschy ornaments, gossiping with fellow politicos, and being amused by her humorous teenage children (three of the six still living at home).
It’s a popular joke that people rarely find HR professions, because the professions find them, and Ellen is so thankful to have been discovered!
Image Credits: Ellen McCrary