Consultant Amanda Brunson named rising female HR star

29 March 2019 6 min. read
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Amanda Brunson, a human resources generalist at Radixx International, has been named one of the US’ top rising female HR stars by Sage People. sat down with Brunson to find out more about her background, views on human resources trends, and her take on working in consulting.

Tell us a little about yourself and your career.

I don’t think anyone ever knows what they really want to do with their life until they’ve had an opportunity to dip their toes into multiple career paths. My background includes experience in journalism, psychology, customer service, accounting, and now human resources. I landed in human resources because I enjoy helping people, which I know is the cliché answer, but it’s true - I have a passion for helping people follow their dreams. 

I moved to Florida in the summer of 2014 so I could attend the MHR program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. I was hired by a beer distributor as an HR intern within two months and worked there in various positions until after graduating from Rollins. Through networking, I was connected with the director of finance at RW Block Consulting when she was looking for an HR generalist to help out. The organization was growing and the responsibilities were too much for just one person. I was honored to be selected for that role because I was still growing professionally, but they had faith that I was the right person for the role. I gained the trust of the team and felt like I made a difference there. 

The organization was acquired at the end of 2018, and it was no longer the right role for me, which is OK. I always say that things happen for a reason. No sooner than I started looking for a new role, I found a company in downtown Orlando that was looking for an HR generalist. I loved them, they loved me, and I started working for them in mid-March. I look forward to supporting a new organization and getting to know a new group of employees. 

Amanda Brunson, a human resources generalist at Radixx International, has been named one of the US’ top rising female HR stars

My career isn’t just my day job, though; I have a lot of extracurricular responsibility. Over the past few years, I have been involved at all levels of the Rollins College SHRM Student Chapter, and I have held multiple roles on the Greater Orlando SHRM Chapter. I am currently the director of communications and marketing. I am in my second year on the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council. I studied for and passed my SHRM-CP certification exam in early 2018. I write for the SHRM blog, will be a blogger for the SHRM 2019 conference, and I share a blog with a friend called “The Future of HR.” I love writing and I love helping people, so I took the two loves and combined them in the hope I could make a difference, influence change, and support others. My expertise is in areas applicable to young professionals, so my main focus is usually on topics that [they] can relate to. 

I’ve even contemplated writing a book for students transitioning to the professional environment in my spare time. This year, I’ve increased my speaking engagements as public speaking is something I still struggle with, but I want to get better at it. I feel like the only way to get better at something is to do it. So far in the first quarter of 2019, I have been a speaker at three separate events. Finally, I was recently honored by Sage People as a HR Rising Star for 2019.

A friend of mine tells me that just hearing my schedule makes him tired, but I really enjoy all that I do. I realize that one day I may want to slow down and just focus on one or two things, but for now I am living life to its fullest. I am honored that I was recognized as a rising star in the HR field, and I look forward to seeing what else I can do in the near future. 

What key developments do you foresee in the HR space?

I think almost anyone you talk to in HR will say that artificial Intelligence (AI) is a significantly growing trend. But I think what you’ll see shifting is instead of people fearing that AI will take over our jobs. We are seeing organizations partnering with AI to enhance the workspaces. Whether that means automating talent acquisition functions, communicating with chatbots to better improve our online experience, taking over administrative tasks that take up way too much of our time, plus so much more. AI will be a valuable resource to all of us in the near future. For more on this, I highly recommending talking to Ben Eubanks, who has written a great book on the topic: “Artificial Intelligence for HR: Use AI to Support and Develop a Successful Workforce.” 

"Top trends in HR? Artificial Intelligence and the movement towards a more employee-centric culture."

Another key development that has started trending already and I think will continue is creating a more employee-centric culture. While businesses are very important, businesses are able to function because of their people. Ensuring that your people are successful is the key to having a prosperous business. Whether that means reevaluating your company’s culture, providing more flexibility to employees, or providing additional perks like unlimited PTO (personal time off), all of these are going to be essential in creating an employee-centric environment. 

What is your advice for others hoping to work in the consultancy industry?

Before I started my career in HR, when I heard the word consultant, I have to admit I was a bit naive. I always thought about HR consultants, but never about consultants in general. I took a consulting class in my graduate program and it was an eye-opener. I learned about how many different types of industries need consultants with all backgrounds, because when you really think about it, a consultant is what I refer to as a SME  – subject matter expert. If you are a SME in finance, you could be a finance consultant. If you are a SME in construction or engineering, you could be a consultant for organizations that are expanding. 

So my word of advice is that if you find something you are passionate about, become an expert. Learn everything you need to know about that topic and topics that may coincide with your expertise. Eventually you will become the SME that people are coming to for advice. You can then either work for yourself and provide your services to those that need you, or you can seek employment at an organization that is known for their consulting skills. Either way, you have it made because you are the SME.

See the website of Sage People for an overview of the entire top 10 rising female HR stars of 2019.