James Watson (0507969)
Instructor: Instructor A. Lovering
HRD 300-2, Interview Assignment
Human Resources 360o: The Person, Profession, and Perspective. Focused, determined, intellectually curious, and hard-working are just a few terms to describe the gentleman I had the pleasure of interviewing. Mr. Ray Harrell is a seasoned HR/HRD professional with a plethora of work experience and knowledge in the arenas of human resource management and human resource development. A combination of education and practical skill has allowed Ray to climb the HR ladder and view the profession in his unique way. When I asked him where he was from, he jokingly started his response with “From a land far, far away,” as if he was going to share a fairytale. Early in our conversation, I could see that Ray possessed a high degree of professionalism; it but now I realized that he also had a great sense of humor. In this paper, I will first give details on how Mr. Harrell entered the HR/HRD profession. I will then describe, through his eyes, a day in the life of an HR/HRD professional. Finally, I will reveal Mr. Harrell’s take on the future of HR/HRD and discuss the advice he has given me to help me prepare for such a dynamic profession. The content from this interview served as my primary source of reference. I interviewed Mr. Harrell on March 17, 2011. Coming from humble beginnings, Ray Harrell surprised and impressed many with his career achievements. Often overlooked as the middle child of three, Ray has gotten used to finding ways to make himself stand out from the rest of the bunch. His exemplary educational background in both information science, as an undergraduate and HR as a graduate, has allowed him to differentiate himself from most of his competition. When asked how he found his way in the HR career field, Ray was candid with his response. He explained how he was chosen from three hundred applicants for the position he currently holds. Prior to this position, he acquired work experience with companies both in and out of the HR profession. “My first job in HR was at Harley-Davidson as a benefits intern,” said Ray. When I asked how he attained an internship with America’s most popular motorcycle manufacturer, he shared how he had received it through his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. “Although the internship paid very little, I am forever grateful for the experience and to the University for providing me with such an opportunity,” said Mr. Harrell. Several years after his internship with Harley Davidson and with a desire to engulf himself fully in HR, Ray relocated to North Carolina and procured a six-month position as a benefits administrator. He was then promoted to an HR specialist position, where he took on most of the responsibilities of an HR manager within the facility. “My duties, however, included basic HR as well as global management…my regional manager had the years of experience but no degree at all, and the U.S. HR manager had a degree (not in HR), but no HR experience at all,” said Mr. Harrell. These conditions required Ray to serve as a liaison by pulling together the knowledge and abilities of the two managers into effective HR practices. When asked what kind of skills or knowledge he found most helpful for getting started in the HR/HRD field, he spoke of how he had taken classes in staffing, statistics, diversity, and other various HR/HRD courses. However, he also expressed that class work alone is not enough to prepare an individual. “Getting hands-on experience was by FAR the best teacher of HR principles and practices. Theory is great, but practice is a whole other tool for learning,” Ray said. He added that courses in industrial relations and employment law also helped clarify certain principles. Mr. Harrell’s view on the skills and knowledge needed to break into HR/HRD is interesting, but it is not uncommon. Indeed, many professionals within the industry and the world of academia share his...
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