In this B-side, we sit down with educator, HR Business Partner, public speaker, and Austin Human Resource Management Association (AHRMA) president elect Angela Shaw to discuss her journey of professional reinvention.
#AHRMA #ProfessionalDevelopment #PublicSpeaking #Hardworkpaysoff #HumanResources
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and yes, you’re listening to a B-Side. Now, yes, we’ve introduced the purpose of a B-Side before, but remember, every episode is someone’s first episode. So for our new folks, B-Sides are essentially random shows we have in-between the larger shows. These are much less structured and somehow even more lit. Now, listen. I know, the regular shows are lit, but these are somehow more lit than our regularly scheduled shows. Sometimes they’re discussions that the hosts have. Sometimes they’re extended monologues, or maybe they’re even a chat with a special guest. Today we have such a guest. Her name is Ms. Angela Shaw. Angela is a public speaker, educator, and has functioned as an HR business partner for both the private and public sector. She is the president-elect of the Austin Human Resource Management Association, a not-for-profit association of over 800 resource professionals in the greater Austin area representing more than 500 businesses. Angela, welcome to the show.
[Sound Man throws in children’s applause]
Angela: Thank you so much, Zach. I’m excited to be here. And thank you for that intro. That was wonderful.
Zach: No problem, no problem. So tell us a little bit about yourself.
Angela: So I am a professional who started a little late getting serious about her career, and not that that’s a bad thing–I certainly don’t feel bad about it, and I’m proud to say now, in my mid-forties, I’m finally on a career path that I want to be on. So just a little more about that. It was about probably ten years ago that I really became focused on my career and serious about setting a path. I was very intentional about going into HR. In the beginning, I was in administrative roles. I was in a small organization, and through attrition I became responsible for some HR training duties, and I have to say that was the point for me. I remember the very first training I conducted for staff, and the feeling of accomplishment that I had from that, it was like no other feeling, and I knew then and there that I wanted to go fully into HR. And so I began looking for a job in HR, and I found one, and I have not looked back since. I feel like at this point it’s important to say, noteworthy to mention, that I am the only person in my immediate family of parents and siblings of seven people to graduate from college, and while they were supportive, sometimes the understanding of why I just have continued to push myself into staying busy professionally hasn’t always been there. And I love my family because they’re an integral part of who I am and my base of where I come from, but I didn’t wanna let where I came from define where I was going. So once I got into an HR job I began to really learn and practice HR, and what I found was that I wasn’t gonna be able to move forward without credentials. So my experience and my smile wasn’t going to be enough. So by then I had a few years of HR experience under my belt. I had also gone through a major life change, which was a divorce, and that was the true catalyst of my reinvention. So early 30s, I learned through that divorce that nothing was guaranteed, and I learned that it was up to me to be able to take care of myself into retirement and that me, myself, and I were gonna be all the identity that I actually needed. So it took me a few years, but literally I had to physically, emotionally, and spiritually recover from the divorce, and that’s when I set out on deciding what my career path would be in HR. So by this time I was certified in HR, I knew I wanted to stay in HR, and so I started working towards getting my Bachelor’s degree. I took my first college course at the age of 30, and it took me eight years to finish, but when I tell you that that was probably the biggest accomplishment of my life, that is certainly the truth. I graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in my love of HR. So by the time I completed my Bachelor’s degree, I was in an HR management position, I was leading staff, and I had become a strategic business partner in a growing organization. So I had really accomplished something that up until then had only been a dream of mine and that I didn’t even know I could actually do, but soon after completing that degree–then I started to really sit down and chart what my continued success would look like. So I wanted to be a chief HR officer. I still want to be a chief HR officer. And what does that path look like for me? I thought about what other professional accomplishments I could achieve that would help me on this track to being a chief HR officer. I also thought about how I could reach back and help others. So everyone, but particularly people who come from under-represented groups that I identify with. So women, people of color, people over the age of 40, you know? That was in December of 2012. So since then I have really been able to grow my career in multiple ways by being intentional. So I’ve held leadership positions in HR in different organizations because I really wanted to get different industry experience. I’ve held multiple volunteer leadership positions in several organizations, and as you mentioned, I’m currently president-elect of AHRMA. I also teach a class as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College, so I teach an Essentials of HR class, and this year I really began public speaking on HR topics, but the one closest to my heart being diversity and inclusion–
Zach: So talk to me about that though. Talk to me about how you were able to–first of all, thank you so much ‘cause you’re giving me a lot, even in, like, just the introduction of who you are, and you actually answered a couple of my questions, but I want to pause you really quick because I really want to hear more about the transition, how you pivoted–’cause you explained the pivot in your early 30s to really being a more focused HR professional, but talk to us please a little bit more about how you pivoted from that or in that to being in public speaking. I’d love to hear that.
Angela: So I feel like in my journey there’s been a lot of denials based on things that I was not able to change about myself, these unconscious biases. That’s a phrase that we hear a lot, you know? I feel like I received a lot of denials in my life, whether it was trying to get a job I felt like I deserved or being promoted, or someone even deciding that I just–you know, I wasn’t worthy of them hearing what I had to say. That was the pivot for me when it came to speaking, public speaking, and as I had volunteer leadership roles they kind of naturally provide a platform for you to be able to speak about different things, but I intentionally sent a proposal to speak at an event. So DisruptHR is a movement that is sweeping the world, and they had an event in Austin, and I saw something about it, and I sent a proposal, not knowing whether or not I would actually get it, but I find that if you want something to happen, obviously you speak it into existence, but then you follow that up with action, and that’s what I did by submitting the proposal. And they picked me, and I spoke at this DisruptHR event in Austin, and I was so proud, but it was the feedback that I received afterwards that was so pivotal for me. So if you public speak and people come up to you afterwards and they say, “Oh, you did a great job, and I really enjoyed that,” I’m sure it’s true, but that’s very subjective. But if somebody comes up to you afterwards and they want to engage with you in conversation to follow up what you talked about, that’s how you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. You said what you were supposed to say. You touched somebody. You want to move somebody to action, and so that’s what the public speaking has become for me, that opportunity to reach one and teach one. Every person that I get to touch that wants to take action means that I’m successful, so that’s really where the public speaking piece comes from, giving a voice and a platform to everybody who’s been denied or under-represented groups who feel like they don’t have a voice. That’s where it comes from.
Zach: That’s awesome. And so, you know, you’ve mentioned your age, and you’ve mentioned just the–I think that’s a critical part of your journey and your story, right? So what advice would you have for older, more seasoned professionals who may feel like it’s too late for them, considering that there is a perception that this current era is dominated by millennials and that really if you’re not with a certain age bracket, you don’t count or you won’t be heard as much. I’m curious because, you know, a lot of our listeners are younger professionals. However, we have professionals who are Gen X and who are even baby boomers, right? So, you know, when I listen to your story, I’m encouraged because it reminds me that there’s no point in your life where it’s too late to try something different or to even reinvigorate yourself, and so I’m curious – do you have any advice for the 30-something, even the 40 or 50-something out there who’s looking to make a transition, who may have some questions or anxiety around how to go about doing that?
Angela: I do. So I love to use my personal story as an example as hard work pays off and that no matter what doors are closed or how many glass ceilings you feel like there are, everybody has the opportunity set a goal and then work towards that goal. I would tell them–so I rep Gen X all the way, that’s what I am, but I have a couple of millennial traits, and I feel like I have some baby boomer traits also. So I would tell them to make sure they’re setting their personal goals, and make their goals about them. It’s not about anybody else. They can’t compare themselves to other people. What they can do is put in that work and then let their path continue in its own time and own way the way it should. I would also tell them it’s never too late, never. Every day that you wake up is an opportunity to get better. I love to say that. So that’s an opportunity every day to actively work towards a goal that you might have for yourself. So that would be my advice that I would give to anybody. Keep at it. Set your goals and keep at it, and don’t compare yourself to other people because everybody’s path is different.
Zach: Well, that’s amazing, and I appreciate that, and I’m sure our listeners appreciate that as well. So before we go, do you have any final shout outs? Any more words of wisdom that you’d like to share in part for us?
Angela: I do. So I’ll start with the final words before I give the shout out. I stopped keeping track of how many denials I received. So I think anybody who’s in an under-represented group knows what I’m talking about when it comes to these denials that are real, but I stopped keeping track of the denials, and instead I started keeping track of my successes that I’ve had in my journey. And so my final words of wisdom to anybody is to do that. No one’s stopping you but you, so stop keeping track of those denials and start keeping track of your successes. And as my final shout out, I want to shout out anybody out there who is working towards a goal and feels like you’re alone. You are not alone, and your hard work is not in vain. Hard work pays off, and I’m a prime example of that. And lastly, Zach, I just want to thank you for giving me some time to tell my story. I hope–if there’s at least one person out there who hears this story and feels in any kind of way inspired then we did our part. I also want to tell you I’m a fan of yours. I wish you success in everything that you do and everything that you want for yourself, and I will always be a supporter.
Zach: Angela, first of all, thank you so much for the love. Thank you for your time. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a wonderful story, and it’s a story that needs to be told because I believe that we live in a time today where, you know, social media and just the way that we consume content, it’s easy just to think that, you know, only a select few can be successful, right? But to your point, it’s about working hard. It’s about being intentional. It’s about being consistent, and it’s about being true to who you are and true to your own story, right? So you epitomize that, and I’m really just thankful to have you here. I definitely want to shout you out. I want to shout out the Austin Human Resource Management Association, and I want to make sure that we have you back on the show.
Angela: Absolutely. Thank you, Zach.
Zach: Awesome. Well, look. That does it for us today, guys. Thank you for joining us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to follow us on Instagram at @LivingCorporate, Twitter at LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com. If you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at email@example.com. Don’t forget – we also have a Patreon. So if you’d like to support us through Patreon, make sure to check out the links and information in the show notes below. My name is Zach. You’ve been talking with Angela Shaw. Peace.
Latricia: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.