HR Career Breakthroughs: Joshua Combest

Manager of People Strategy, ObserveIT

By Mark Feffer Jun 1, 2016
​Joshua Combest. Photograph by Tracy Powell for HR Magazine.
Joshua Combest started his journey in HR as a generalist at a Whole Foods Market near Boston. When he was promoted to payroll and benefits specialist lead, his responsibilities expanded to include assisting HR staff at several other stores. He left Whole Foods when he reached a position that likely wouldn’t have resulted in a promotion for several years. He joined ObserveIT in December 2015 to create its HR function.

Breakthrough Moment
While at Whole Foods, the corporate HR group asked Combest to help train employees in using a new software system from Workday. The reason? As the system rolled out, Combest wasn’t afraid to put himself out there. “I was replying to a lot of e-mails that asked questions and wrote brief training documents as questions came up,” he says. The team writing the official documentation noticed his work, incorporated some of it into theirs and then reached out to Combest about contributing to their companywide efforts.

Lesson Learned
Besides providing a feeling of validation at an early point in his career, this experience taught Combest that networking and helping others are critical to an HR practitioner’s success. It’s a concept that fits with his credo: “I see HR as customer service on steroids,” he says.


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