Alex E. Alston, HR director at The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colo., is among the five new members of the Emerging Professionals Advisory Council (EPAC) for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Alston and the other four individuals join a 10-member council that represents SHRM's five regions—North Central, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and Pacific West. Council involvement offers leadership, speaking and travel opportunities, including attendance at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 in New Orleans.
EPAC members are SHRM members, have held an HR or related position for three to five years, and preferably have experience as a SHRM student chapter leader. They have, at minimum, a bachelor's degree related to HR.
SHRM Online spoke with Alston about his HR journey.
His HR background: Alston originally planned to study veterinary medicine at Texas Tech University in Lubbock until he attended his first animal science class.
Not only did he feel out of place—"I sat in the class looking like a city guy. Everyone had their jeans and cowboy boots on"—he knew it was time to change direction when the class started concentrating on areas of study he had no interest in.
He discovered a passion for the hospitality industry during a gap year working in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Alston then headed back to Texas Tech and graduated in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in restaurant hotel institutional management. He worked as associate market manager at Expedia Group in Dallas before joining Sceptre Hospitality Resources (SHR) in Houston in 2016. He held a variety of hospitality roles before moving into HR.
In 2020 Alston joined The Springs Resort and Spa as HR director, where his responsibilities include communicating with 145 cross-functional team members, conducting employee background checks and exit interviews, representing the hotel at hearings, working with the hotel general manager and resort owners to assess training needs, and developing training programs.
He will move into his new role at the company as corporate director of HR, based in San Antonio, in mid-March.
His schooling: In addition to his bachelor's degree, Alston holds a certification in hospitality manager leadership from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute.
Why HR? "SHR catapulted me into human resources," he said, and it was there he developed a passion for training and development.
"I love getting a chance to work with people and watch them develop. My favorite part of being in HR is seeing someone start out in a line-level role then grow to become a salaried manager."
Is there an area you'd like to specialize in? "I love the learning and development side of HR," Alston said. "This and recruiting are probably my two favorite things about my role. The reason I find it very rewarding is seeing someone coming in brand-new in their career path and then flourishing to become a leader at the resort or in another career of their choosing."
He created a proposal for SHR's CEO that resulted in Alston being named HR training and development manager in 2019 and running the company's program.
What he likes about the hospitality industry: "It's a blast. Every day is different. You get an opportunity to make an impact with people because you're [interacting with] people from all walks of life."
He also enjoys discounted rates on rooms, food and beverages at The Springs Resort and Spa and free use of the natural hot springs.
Role of EPAC Members
Members meet virtually on a monthly basis to:
- Provide feedback or suggestions to SHRM on potential and existing services and experiences for the betterment of emerging professionals (EPs) within the SHRM community.
- Assist SHRM with identifying strategies for gaining and retaining EP members.
- Encourage recognition of EP programs that chapter and state council affiliates lead.
- Connect with other EP members using social media and various local events and activities.
- Promote and coordinate the establishment and support of activities at the local level, and strategies that help SHRM student members transition from school into the workforce as emerging professionals.