Updated: Aug 30
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Today we are talking with Danielle Ames about her career as a Retail HR Manager.
I have been lucky enough to not only work alongside Danielle during my time at adidas, but to also have her as a close friend. Let me tell you something about Danielle...she is the BEST person at building you up, challenging you when you need it, and cheering you on in all of your endeavors. I have been so lucky to have her in my corner as I have embarked on this small business journey.
On a professional level I also have to brag about Danielle. She is an amazing public speaker and advocate for change. I have had the pleasure of watching Danielle lead multiple public speaking events and seeing her in action is nothing short of phenomenal. Danielle has a way of inspiring those around her while also motivating them to accept nothing short of the very best in themselves. I know she is an asset to her HR team and I am so thankful I get to share her career journey with all of you today.
Now let's learn more about Danielle...
Name: Danielle Ames
HR Manager, Retail
Time in Current Position: 8 months
Where Can You Connect with Danielle?
Connect on LinkedIn!
What does a day in the life of a Retail HR Manager look like?
A day in my role can vary a bit each day. My role as an HR manager requires me to support both retail and corporate employees.
As an HR manager, I support leaders from Director level and above. I help their employees with development and training options, diversity and inclusion resources, new leader development, performance management and investigations when needed.
As a retail HR manager, I support the retail HR team (those who support brick and mortar stores) with monthly data points regarding headcount in stores, hours worked, and project support. Any new initiatives that may launch and support our retail stores is something I would jump in to support.
My day to day can look like, running multiple reports in excel, partnering with our HR services team to access new data points, or meeting with various partners to consult on employee needs. I must say that the consulting space is my favorite!
What roles did you have prior to your current role?
I have had a variety of roles prior to landing this one. I got my first job at age 16 where I worked in customer service at a grocery store. During my junior year in college, I started working full time as a bank teller, while also finishing school full time. Whew, I do not miss that hustle! While in college I worked for 3 different banks and eventually worked my way up to a licensed mortgage officer.
After graduation, I had this strong desire to work in HR. My degree is in organizational leadership and business, but I had the gut feeling I would enjoy HR consulting. I took my first job in HR at Eaton as an analyst. I got to work for a fast-paced global company and partner with recruiters and HR Business Partners (HRBPs) to create offer letters and packages for employees in their warehouse locations. It was a fast-paced role, but allowed me to learn so much.
After Eaton, I went on to work for Children and Family Services as a continuous quality improvement officer. In this role, I did auditing of the caseloads from social workers to ensure that state mandates were being met when families were supported by the agency. This was an emotionally demanding role, but very rewarding as I enjoyed writing both qualitative and quantitative reports. After about two years I was ready to go back into HR and was looking to move from Ohio. I left Ohio to move to Portland, Oregon and took an HR Information Systems (HRIS) role supporting Midwest retail store fronts with hiring and staffing needs.
How did your experience in previous roles help you succeed in your current position?
My prior experience helped me in so many ways. Working in banking customer service taught me how to develop relationships with people and get buy in. I've learned that people prefer to do business with you if they can understand or relate to you.
My experience in HR Services based roles taught me the importance of data. I learned how important it is to audit every metric especially in larger companies. I also took a stretch assignment at my current company before officially landing my current role. This experience taught me so much about how to support people managers and give them the tools they need. I am still actively learning, but all of my prior experience has been very valuable. There is no better experience than a real life application of skills.
Is there any specialty training or area of expertise needed to succeed in your current role?
I think the specialty training I needed in HR is experience. Getting my feet wet in HR early on in analyst and coordinator roles helped me to understand back end data and how it supports various teams. While operational roles aren't my favorite, they are vital to many organizations.
I am also currently studying for my SHRM certificate to help further my HR understanding. SHRM is the Society for Human Resource Management and is the gold standard for HR related topics. They provide expertise on current issues impacting the workforce.
Finally, I would recommend having a network of HR professionals to help you as your grow in your career. They can help talk through scenarios and explain how things are handled at various organizations.
How do you think your job will change in the next 5 years?
What a great question. I think my job will change immensely in the next 5 years.
I think data will need to continuously be readily available at an enterprise level. Data impacts many people and as the staffing and turnover trends continues to change, especially for retail organizations, it will be more important than ever to keep up to date on all that is happening.
While we are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, how HR professionals support employees will likely change. HR managers need to be more empathetic to people and their needs now more than ever. We need to be flexible in how we support sick employees. We also need to be understanding and provide resources to support mental health as its key to employee success. I also think we need to continue providing resources on diversity, inclusion, and equity as they are vital to supporting every person on their individual journey.
I also think the HRBP role will continue to be defined in the coming years. There are conversations about the level of support HRBPs should provide with recruitment and talent. These definitions will likely vary based on the size of organization, but I have a feeling that the administrative tasks will need to be shared with other HR professionals. As HR is asked to be more flexible, HR services or coordinator based roles may need to help support data and administrative needs. Lastly, I think HR managers will need to continue to engage in trainings to shift and open mindsets to support inclusive employee support models.
What parts of your job do you find most rewarding?
The parts of my job I find most rewarding are building relationships and consulting with others. I LOVE feeling that I can be a resource to others and help create solutions to challenges in the business. Even though I am new to project management, I do enjoy seeing the final outcomes of projects knowing that people appreciate the solution or resources that make their jobs easier.
On a personal note, I would have described myself as more of an introvert prior to my current role. The HRBP space has helped me to open up more, be more of my full authentic self, and be more confident in my career. I also really love the human interaction aspects of HR. Being empathetic to others, supporting them, and being a part of the amazing brand I work for brings a lot of joy.
Do you work more independently or as part of a team?
My job is a mix of working both independently and as a team.
As an HR manager, I sometimes work "independently" to partner with my leaders and understand their needs. I will then circle back to them and provide them with resources, updates, or solutions.
With that said, "partner" is the key word here and I am not sure if I can deem that as independent. Partnership takes relationship building and team work to keep the ball rolling. We all have to be in alignment with the needs of the business and the people. I often consult with my director and senior HR managers for guidance or examples of similar scenarios they have experienced.
In supporting the retail HR team, my projects would not be successful without the buy-in and understanding of my team. For me it is rewarding to be able to have visibility to other areas of the business, build relationships with colleagues, and gain an understanding with a wide variety of people.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume?
The most interesting thing about me that you won't learn from my resume is that I have developed a love for public speaking. I am SO thankful for the people and colleagues in my life who have given me opportunities to speak. I gave my first speech sometime in elementary school and as a thank you my old principal took me to see Maya Angelou speak live. Thinking about this moment still gives me chills and makes me cry. I knew at that moment I wanted to be a great speaker.
Two years ago I was given the opportunity to speak on a panel giving career advisement and resources for Black Women's Equal Pay Day. I realized how important the pay disparity for black women and ALL woman was to me. I also realized how many women desired more opportunity, an understanding on how to pivot in their careers, and the need to take more ownership of their career journeys. I remember being SO nervous to speak on that panel and afterwards I nearly cried that I almost didn't do it.
In 2020, I went on to plan, host, and moderate (for the first time) a virtual panel for Black Women's Equal Pay Day. This time I brought in an HR expert, an internal employee, and a special athlete guest who took the time to share their knowledge. I learned that moderation is even harder than panel or public speaking, but so rewarding. To be able to facilitate the content and knowledge that was being presented is a skill in itself. I hope to continue to hone my craft and speak publicly in a way that allows me to give back to women and young adults.
If you are interested in learning more about Danielle and her experience, please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn. There is a direct link at the top of the blog!
If you would like to be featured on the Talent Spotlight Series, please contact me here!
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