Member Spotlight: Toby Atkinson, SHRM-SCP

Regional talent acquisition manager, Cintas Corp.

Jun 1, 2015
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HR Magazine June 2015

Toby Atkinson will be taking a break from HR next month to represent her home state of Illinois in the Mrs. United States competition.

At the five-day event in Las Vegas, contestants will compete on beauty, charm, personality, poise and eloquence.

Atkinson sees the competition as an opportunity to focus on herself rather than solely on her roles as wife and mother. “Not only did I start to look different, but I’m starting to feel different,” she says of her pageant training.

Atkinson has always had a competitive spirit. She is president of the Grundy Will HR Association, a chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which won SHRM’s Membership Star status last year for its rapid growth.

After graduating college in 2005, Atkinson went into retail. When she filled in for an HR manager who went on leave, she fell in love with HR. “It was like tasting candy for the first time,” she says. “I simply wanted more!”

So she found an entry-level HR position at Cintas Corp., where she now trains hiring managers on recruiting, diversity efforts and college relations.

What’s your work philosophy?

It means a lot to me to lift and build people up as I approach each day. In the event I am promoted to a different position or moved to another location, I hope that my reputation precedes me in a positive way.

What are you passionate about?

I am very passionate about youth education. I volunteer with an organization called Youth Guidance’s W.O.W., which stands for “Working on Womanhood.” It provides school-based counseling and mentoring for at-risk girls. Being part of this movement has been a spiritual experience for me, which is something I didn’t expect.

Have your HR skills come in handy during the Mrs. United States pageant?

A big part of the pageant has to do with being able to answer questions on the spot and being knowledgeable about current news and trends—sounds similar to any HR role I’ve served in! I have been able to draw on the communication skills I learned in HR. I’ve had to convey both difficult and positive information to people while keeping them engaged.

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