SHRM Helps Break Through Barriers

As part of SHRM’s 2016 Annual Conference and Exposition theme of “Breakthrough” we’ve asked SHRM Members and HR professionals to share their “Breakthrough Moments.”  SHRM member Terry J. Gottleib, a senior manager of Human Resources, shares her breakthrough moment and how it’s helped her gain confidence and confidence in her career.   


by Terry J. Gottleib

April 28, 2016


I was thrust into an HR position thirteen years ago by a boss who saw my potential and believed enough in me to take on this huge responsibility.  I had to quickly learn what the heck all the acronyms stood for like HIPPA, FMLA, FSLA, ERISA, etc. and take a crash course in labor law. It was a lot of trial by error for the first few years.

While I have had many pivotal moments in my career, the biggest breakthrough moment was when that boss who believed in me left the company abruptly a couple of years ago.  I was at the executive level at the time but was left without my mentor and my support.  The new senior management did not seem to hold a high opinion of HR and the importance it has in company strategy.  I was excluded from meetings and business decisions, my assistant quit, and the employees and I felt lost… for a while.

Sure, I started browsing job boards and even went on a few interviews. Then came the “A-HA” moment.  I realized that I had invested too much in the company and its success to abandon my efforts at a time when the employees and the company needed me the most.   I challenged myself to gain the trust of the new boss and help him, along with other trusted managers, to take the company to the next level.  This empowered me to do things I had never done before! 

I realized that I had freedom to create and execute new initiatives.  I created an MBO review program, developed and rolled out a company-wide employee survey, presented valuable metrics, and, most importantly, I worked on my own professional development.

I studied hard for the SHRM-SCP exam for many months and enrolled in a terrific online SHRM prep course with a live trainer. I sweated through the exam.  When I received the confirmation email that I had passed, I literally cried.  Earning this certification validated my knowledge of my craft and my ability to be a senior business partner and decision maker on a global level. I proudly added the SHRM-SCP badge to my email signature and received congratulations from my family, friends, and colleagues.

I’m happy to say that I am now a respected member of the team and have a great relationship with senior management.  Determination, knowledge, along with a positive and caring attitude gave me the ability to break through barriers. 

I hope my experience helps others to empower themselves and overcome obstacles that may seem unsurmountable. Drive your career to the next level and feel great doing it!



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Wow! Awesome! Congrats to you Terry. I am challenged by this piece. Please, how can I be a member of SHRM. I am a fresh graduate from the University and I will really love to delve into the world of HR. How can I start? Here is my email address Thanks in anticipation.

Congratulations on a job well done. Not all employers know or understand the strategic value of the HR function including HRD. When the opportunity presents itself to both inform and educate executives regarding how the function can help drive an organizations toward its vision and mission, it should surely be capitalized on.

This is a great testimony and encouraging to me and others.!

Thank you for sharing. This has motived me to finally work towards the CP exam as I am a recent graduated(bachelors) and was involved in my local student chapter of SHRM. I realize to advance my career. I need to get that certification.

Dear Ayobami,
Thank you for your message!

Terry: Congratulations on persevering and a job well done. I am most happy for you as you worked so hard to overcome a major internal perception that some have of the HR functions. I worked for a persons many years ago that had a similar opinion of HR. The problem is that HR does not make money. Once the senior managers see that it can keep them out of trouble HR gains favor in the company. I wish you continued Good Luck. Frank

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