I was so excited when Jackie Oliver agreed to do a Q & A with me for the SHRM18 Blog. I met Jackie when I first landed at SHRM in 2005 and we worked together for two years before I transferred to Public Affairs. Jackie is an unsung hero at SHRM. She is one of the hardest working, kindest, smartest, most dependable and most caring individuals at SHRM. She is a role model and one of the reasons SHRM continues to be a great place to work. If you see things working well on the outside, it’s because Jackie is making it all happen behind the scenes on the inside. Period. If you get a chance, stop by the Volunteer Lounge and #SHRM18 and say hello. Tell her I sent you!
Jackie, tell us more about you and what you do for SHRM.
My career began as an administrative assistant for the U.S. Army while living in Taegu, Korea. My father was in the Army and one of the benefits I received as being an Army dependent was the opportunity to work part-time during the summer for the Army. This was my first opportunity to see what it was like to “be an adult” and to make my own money. Over the course of the two years that I worked as an administrative assistant I learned many skills that I continue to use to this day. Once state side, I worked part-time at McDonalds and attended Fayetteville Technical Community College.
After graduating with a degree in Business Computer Programming I relocated to Alexandria, VA and accepted my first full-time job at First American Data Services in Reston, VA. As a Lockbox Coordinator, on a daily basis, I helped to process payment for over 300 clients including DC Government taxes. After being there for five years, the company was purchased by Suntrust Bank and the operations were moved to Richmond, VA. I had only been in the Virginia/Maryland/DC area for a few years and liked it, so instead of moving to Richmond, I accepted a job with the American Industrial Hygiene Association. As a Support Services Administrator, I assisted with all aspects of the call center as well as assisted in the mailroom when needed. After six years with AIHA I was ready for a change.
In 1998 I accepted a position with SHRM. Over the next 19 years I had over seven positions in the Customer Care Center including Manager, Team Leader, Administrator, Trainer, and Project Specialist. In February 2018 my position was transferred to the Accounting department. In my current position as Accounting Specialist I am responsible for the setting up products in SHRM’s AMS as well as helping to manage the vendor relationship for the company that produces the badges for the Annual Conference. I am looking forward to learning the Accounting side of SHRM as well as taking on new responsibilities.
This year will be the third year that I have worked in the Volunteer Lounge at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition. The volunteers are such a key part of the conference experience. Working the in the lounge allows me to ensure the volunteers have all they need to make the conference a memorable experience for themselves and our attendees.
One of my passions has always been helping others. SHRM has always given back to the community in various ways. One way they do that is by sponsoring a local shelter at Christmas. Each year I coordinate with the Alexandria Community Shelter to help SHRM staff provide gifts to the families. I obtain a list of their wishes, and a team of SHRM staff make ornaments with the wishes on them, and then we hang them on a tree in the lobby at SHRM. Staff take the tags, purchases the gifts, and then we deliver them to the shelter about a week before Christmas. We have received letters and visits from some of the residents letting us know how grateful they are. Many of them do not have the extra funds to purchase gifts, so by providing gifts it allows their children to have Christmas. This is one of my favorite parts of my job.
What is one fun fact about Jackie Oliver that’s not on your resume?
One thing that is not in my bio is that I love to enter sweepstakes and have won many over the years. The first sweepstakes I won was Publishers Clearing House. I did not win the big prize, but I won over 20 cookbooks. It was so exciting to see that sweepstakes were actually real. My first year with SHRM, I won $25,000 in a sweepstakes. The prize allowed me to help various family members that were in need. Over my 30 plus years of entering sweepstakes I have won trips (Ireland, Hawaii, Jamaica, and Chicago), tickets to the NFL draft, gift cards, tv’s, t-shirts, and multiple small items like key chains, coupons, food. The ultimate win would be the HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes.
You’ve been with SHRM since 1998 and have seen a lot of change. How has SHRM’s conference registration process evolved over the last 20 years?
One of the biggest changes has been more automation. We have gone from filling out three-part carbon paper registration forms to self-service kiosks. You can go online and register for the conference from your hotel room, and by the time you get to the convention center, your information has been uploaded into the system. You tell us your name and we are able to print all your materials right away.
After 20 years with SHRM, I’m sure you have several great stories and memories from past conferences. Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences and how it affected you?
One of my favorite memories from conferences is being able to meet people from all over the world. I grew up in a military family and used to travel the world and would meet people from all over. I love to hear stories about their lives, their travels and how our conferences help them to advance in their careers. It is a reminder that we need to slow down and take time to enjoy life. Helping with the book signings over the years has allowed me to meet some of the people on my bucket list (Terrence Howard, Blair Underwood, Laila Ali, Holly Robinson Peete).
What are you most looking forward to at #SHRM18?
SHRM has an Annual Conference Corporate Delegation program that allows groups of five or more to register and receive group benefits such as discounts on seminars, preconference workshops, as well as access to a lounge specifically for the delegations. I help to manage this program and am looking forward to meeting the delegation attendees so I can find out how the registration processed worked for them and if they have any suggestions on things that we can do to improve the process.
This will not be your first SHRM conference in the windy city. What are your favorite things to do while visiting Chicago and what recommendations can you share with SHRM18 attendees?
My favorite things to do while in Chicago are to eat and shop. The Navy Pier has it all. Shopping, good food and activities on the lake. Depending on the time of the year they also have Cirque du Soliel shows. The Magnificent Mile also has great shopping and dining for all price ranges. I have family in Chicago so I always have a mini family reunion and a home cooked meal while in town.