This month, the Strategic Human Resource Management students were visited by a program alumnae, Kendra McAdams. Kendra graduated from the MBA program in 2012 and has since been working in various HR roles at Bank of America. In our workshop, Kendra spoke with us on the benefits and caveats of working in an HR generalist role as well as her experience with Bank of America’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and programs.
One of the benefits of working in a generalist role that Kendra shared with us was being able to move around within the business and work with different clients on a day-to-day basis. When you’re in a generalist role, you’re not “locked-in” on any specific area within HR. So, every day can present new challenges. However, one of the caveats, ironically, was that every day can present new challenges. While it may be interesting and exciting to be working on something new every day, it can also get overwhelming or stressful. For example, whatever your plans are for the day can be interrupted if something comes up where you must shift gears to address a new and more important problem. Kendra also recommended that HR professionals in generalist roles experiment and take time to work in other, more specific HR roles. She explained that this would not only increase your knowledge and skills in another role, but it would deepen your understanding of that role and improve your experience and potential as a generalist.
Kendra also shared with us some of the activities and initiatives around diversity and inclusion at Bank of America. This is a popular topic and major area of interest for many of the current Strategic Human Resource Management students and we were excited to learn about what D&I looks like in a real organization. From what we learned, Bank of America is engaged in many initiatives that we commonly see and learn about, like employee resource groups and inclusion training. However, the most interesting and unique initiative is their Courageous Conversations program.
The purpose of Courageous Conversations is for leaders to organize discussions on sensitive or historically taboo topics and provide a safe place to have a formal and respectful dialogue that helps everyone learn and grow. Some topics they have discussed in the past include paternity leave, political-related events, and race-related events.
Overall, we were very excited and happy to have had an hour to speak with Kendra and ask questions about her experiences after she finished the MBA program. It was even more meaningful to get insight from a SHR MBA alumnae.