Sean Hudspeth, SHRM-CP, once thought about becoming a teacher.
So his decision to move from an HR role in the auto industry to one in a school district seemed like a good one.
“I’ve always had a strong desire to share my knowledge with others and see others grow and develop in their professions,” he says. “I consider myself lucky.”
In May 2020, Hudspeth became the chief human resources officer at Wichita Public Schools, which has 9,500 employees.
With his position starting soon after the pandemic shut down schools, it was a trial by fire. He didn’t meet many of his staff in person for months because they were working from home.
In addition to coaching his 33-person HR team, Hudspeth has taught HR and management classes at local universities. He also helped develop the careers of other HR professionals through his volunteer efforts with the Wichita chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), where he served as president, among other roles. He co-chaired the Kansas SHRM State Conference in 2018 and 2019, and in 2021, he received the Trombold Achievement and Kansas SHRM Professional of the Year award.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The teacher shortages, which are just about everywhere. We’re doing some nontraditional advertising and visiting universities to promote diversity and inclusion in the teaching profession. We’ve also launched an incredible stay interview process and a “Grow Your Own Teacher” program to build student interest in teaching.
What are you passionate about?
Giving back to the community where I live and work. I volunteer at school, church and local nonprofits. I deliver food through Meals on Wheels, serve meals to the homeless through our local food pantry and have served on several nonprofit boards.
What’s your favorite business book?
I enjoyed Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (Avery, 2018) by James Clear. It forces you to look at good and bad habits in our lives that usually require little to no effort but have a big impact on our everyday lives as leaders.
Photograph by Tim Davis for HR Magazine.