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HR director, Universities Space Research Association
For as long as she can remember,
Valerie Utsey has had a passion for space science. When she was 10, she spent a week at the
U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. So working for a nonprofit independent research organization that directly supports
NASA is a dream come true for her. She’s especially proud of a class she developed to help scientists transition to management positions.
Outside of work, Utsey also reaches for the stars as a volunteer with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She served as president of SHRM’s Largo, Md., chapter, the Human Resource Society of Prince George’s County, last year. The chapter was named a 2014
SHRM Foundation Champion for helping to raise funds for HR research and scholarships.
How did you get interested in HR?
While still in college, I got my first professional job with a bank. It allowed me to see what a big impact HR has in transforming people, from helping them through the hiring process to training them to successfully do their jobs. As a result, I changed my major from science to HR and received a master’s in labor and human resources.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and she struggles in the areas in which I excel: organization, time management and planning. In helping my daughter overcome these challenges, I have learned training methods that I’ve taken to work to help employees with similar issues.
What are you passionate about?
I see a huge need to help women transition from government assistance to jobs that allow them to take care of themselves and their families. I organized a SHRM chapter program last year to collect clothing and financial donations to assist the nonprofit Dress for Success. I enjoy using my HR skills to help people create resumes and learn interview skills.
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