Human Resource Professional Day 2019 | Spotlight: Tracie Sponenberg

September 26 is #HumanResourceProfessionalDay. 

Every day, HR professionals positively impact the lives of employees in workplaces around the world and contribute to the business strategy that allows their organizations to compete, grow and thrive. 

We asked our bloggers to share their HR stories.

My HR Career - Why I Started, Why I Stayed

While most HR professionals I know seemed to have fallen into HR, I dove headfirst into my career…… in high school. Thanks to an early mentor, my Aunt Janice, who worked in “Personnel,” I understood from a young age that I could combine my love for business, people, and psychology in the discipline of HR (my undergrad degree in psychology would come in very handy in the years to come!) While it has taken a long time for most businesses to see the value of HR, I saw early on the impact HR could have on a business, and was fortunate to report directly to the CEO from very early in my career. Now, as Chief People Officer of The Granite Group, I get to finally and truly have the job I was meant to have - working in the C-Suite helping the business achieve its strategic goals through its people strategies - but without losing sight of the day to day issues. My favorite thing to do remains visiting our team at each of the 40+ locations. I listen for a living, and I love it.

But, I did not arrive here immediately, and I certainly did not arrive here alone. I started my career at UPS, where I worked as part of a large HR team, for a large, global company. I learned about patience, teamwork, diversity and inclusion, staffing for a large facility, and much, much more. I had many terrific coaches and mentors and they prepared me well for a career in leading HR departments for mid-sized companies, which is where I truly found my home.  

My first position leading HR was at The Concord Monitor, a newspaper and publishing company in NH. I remember my first day, 20 years ago, vividly. I was TERRIFIED. Talk about impostor syndrome! However, I succeeded Laurie Murphy, a seasoned HR leader who served as a mentor and coach to me then, and again many years later when I followed her into my current position! Laurie, along with many fantastic leaders I met through my early involvement (with Laurie’s encouragement) in my local SHRM chapter, helped support me in my new leadership role. Their support was critical to my success and enjoyment of that role. 

Many HR practitioners get into HR because of the people. We are, after all, the People People. And that is definitely true for me. I adore the team members at each and every location I have worked. But for me, the reason I got into HR, and stay in HR, is the people - the HR people. My earliest mentors - my Aunt Janice, Connie, Gayle, the other Gayle, Laurie, Sandy and many more. My HR partner in crime, Michelle. My team of Theresa, Janet and Abby. My HR Rebels - Stephanie, Alicia, Bev, Linda and many others. And now, I get to give back by serving as a mentor and coach myself, to my certification students, those new to the HR field and those thinking about pursuing HR as a career. They keep me in this amazing, challenging, frustrating, beautiful profession.


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