Pam Bratton once worked as a police dispatcher in a tiny Texas town best known as the home of 27 bars and 27 churches.
Fresh out of community college, she learned a lot about the law by reading case files and assisting the town judge in court. The job also gave her a unique vantage point to study human behavior.
But it wasn’t until she explored HR that she finally found her niche. With a push from her employer at the time, she began following legislative issues for the Austin Human Resource Management Association, a chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). For the past 10 years, she has served as co-director of government affairs for the Texas SHRM State Council, tracking proposed legislation and testifying before the state legislature. She also works on federal legislative issues as an A-Team captain within SHRM’s national advocacy network.
“I love being able to tell our story to legislators,” she says, because they don’t always understand the impact that proposed laws will have on employers and employees.
In 2018, Bratton was named Volunteer Leader of the Year by the Texas SHRM State Council.
What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?
I had to work twice as hard because I didn’t have a four-year college degree. I read as much as I could to help me understand how business works. When I lost my daughter in a car accident, I paused, healed and then refocused on my career. When you realize that things can change in a split second, you learn what’s important and don’t get hung up on minutia. I was able to let go of stuff that just didn’t matter.
What’s your work philosophy?
Be present in mind, body and spirit. When I’m at work, everything else is out of sight and out of mind. I treat my job like everything in the company is my responsibility. It’s all my job.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Forgive everyone. Until you let go, you will not have a peaceful or joyful heart.
Photograph by Inti St. Clair.