HR Practitioner Spotlight: Jennifer Payne, @JennyJensHR

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HR Practitioner Spotlight: Jennifer Payne

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a 15+ year HR veteran, and one of those rare people who have worked for the same company that entire time (crazy, right?). Convention says that you need to bounce around to many jobs and companies to gain diverse experiences, but I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to do just that within the same company. I work in grocery retail, and that’s an industry where longevity is fairly common, and many people work their way up through the ranks. Though I never worked in our stores, I have been able to work my way up within the HR department.

Over the years and at various times I’ve focused on employee and labor relations; learning & development; recruiting, hiring, and onboarding; employee engagement & recognition; workforce & succession planning; and whatever other initiatives the company has needed me to focus on. I’ve done mass hirings, downsizing and staff reductions, rebuilding corporate infrastructure after separation from a parent company, acquisitions & mass onboardings…when you’ve been with the same company for an extended time, you tend to see a little bit of everything through various different business cycles. There’s been good times and bad times, but regardless there’s always been something to learn! My current position is Manager of Talent Acquisition & Development.

That’s my “day job” if you will, but outside of that I also blog and have been active on social media teams for SHRM Annual, NY SHRM, and the HR Technology Conference. I love networking and learning, so I embrace opportunities to challenge myself outside of my normal day to day responsibilities.

Why HR? What made you pick this field?

Like many other HR pros, I fell into it. My degree is in Marketing, and there was a time that I was hoping to go into sports marketing (my internship was with the Buffalo Sabres hockey team). When I graduated from college, I took a long term temp position within the HR department at my current company to make some money and gain some corporate experience while searching for my “real job.” The longer I worked in the department, the more I began to realize that HR was much more than I initially thought. So when a permanent position became available, I applied and was hired. At that point, part of me was still hoping to shift back to marketing, but as the years went on and I continued to learn and grow, I realized that HR is where I was meant to be.

What inspired you to first start writing your blog?

Truthfully, I was just in the right place at the right time. The concept for Women of HR was born during a girls weekend in Chicago, when several of us who had initially connected on Twitter gathered to meet in person, drink martinis, enjoy some spa time, and get to know each other better. I had never really considered blogging at that time, but agreed that I’d give it a try. Five years later, I’m grateful that I did. Blogging gives me an outlet beyond my day to day job, and allows me to continue to challenge myself to be a better HR pro.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m grateful for the various opportunities I’ve been able to experience working for the same company for so long, but on the flip side of that, when you are in the same place for an extended time, you need to make a conscious effort to stay in tune with what’s happening outside of your world to avoid suffering from a little tunnel vision. Blogging keeps me fresh and focused on trends, new ideas, and in general on what’s happening outside of my immediate world.

What’s your favorite social media channel?

I’ve always been a fan of Facebook, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to Twitter. Twitter is amazing for finding and making new connections, for quick and broad crowdsourcing, and for finding and sharing information. I wouldn’t be where I am today or know many of the people I know today without it. But I’m just not as great at using it for continued conversation as I’d like to be. My days are too hectic sometimes, and when I do have a few minutes to check in, I feel like it’s difficult to find and jump into those conversations. I’ve been able to make much deeper connections with people through Facebook, and be a part of much deeper and more meaningful discussions, especially through some of the groups I’ve joined. It’s much easier for me to jump in on conversations when I have the time through that platform.

What’s happening in HR that has you most excited?

When I was in college, I would have never thought about pursuing HR, because I had no interest in “firing people and enforcing policies.” That’s exactly what I thought of when I heard the term human resources back then. But students who pursue HR now are pursuing a much different career. It has evolved to so much more than the “policy police.” Of course you have to do the basics correctly – that’s the ante to even get in the game. But once you have those pieces in line (and probably even in many cases automated) there are so many other interesting things to focus on. I love that more and more practitioners are seeing the value of shifting away from focusing strictly on compliance, policy enforcement, and transactional duties. There seems to be a genuine appetite among many to make the profession a true contributor to business results. I also love that there’s a growing interest in learning more about technology, how it can make our jobs easier, and how it makes us more effective professionals.

In one word, what does the future of HR hold?


How can people contact you?

They can connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, or contact me through the blog.

Before we go, let’s play two truths, one lie.

  1. I’ve performed with Gladys Knight.
  2. I’ve flown a plane.
  3. I’ve carried an Olympic torch.

Leave your guesses in the comment section and I will reveal the right answer next week! 


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