HR a ‘Natural Fit’

By Kathy Gurchiek Jun 23, 2015
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​Ronda Wakefield, SHRM-SCP

Ronda Gress Wakefield, SHRM-SCP, worked as a training and evaluation coordinator for a group home in Montana before following her HR career path.

“I was in HR before I even realized what it was,” Wakefield said. The single mother of four worked full time and raised a family while she was a student; she graduated cum laude in 2008 from Montana State University with a bachelor’s degree in HR/organizational communications. Today she is the HR manager at Nomad Global Communication Solutions Inc., where she was named Employee of the Year and awarded the Exceeds Expectations Award in the past year.

“I went from helping children [at the group home] to helping employees and employers,” she told SHRM Conference Today. “It was a natural fit.”

Wakefield is attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition as one of the five recipients of a new scholarship the SHRM Foundation awarded in 2015. The nearly $2,500 scholarship gives HR professionals who might otherwise be unable to attend because of a lack of financial support the opportunity to experience Annual Conference. It comes with full-conference registration, up to four nights at a conference hotel and a $500 travel stipend.

She’s eager to attend conference sessions on leadership and management, as the CEO of her organization is looking to her to develop and implement a leadership initiative for managers by the end of 2015.

“My organization has never really supported the full HR role; they see it primarily as the hire/fire department,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “The CEO said they never realized what the role actually entailed or what they could expect out of it until I came on board.”

Wakefield is an advocate of lifelong learning. She was working on her master’s degree in HR until a shortage of funds halted that goal, but she plans to return to her studies eventually. In addition to her full-time job, she works two part-time jobs—as a waitress and as a bookkeeper—to help put her daughter through college.

She is president of the Flatland Valley SHRM chapter. Wakefield volunteered to serve as secretary at the first chapter meeting she attended, has sat on the chapter’s board for nine years and is a member of Montana’s SHRM state council. She attended the SHRM 2015 Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., and returned to Montana motivated and invigorated. “SHRM has become my life,” she said.

“I’ve always believed anything is possible, within reason, but we have to put forth the effort, set a goal and go for it,” she said. At age 47, she added, “I have a lot of things left to accomplish.”

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News.

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