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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About HR From Someone on the Inside

Photo credit: Getty Images/ferrantraite

Photo credit: Getty Images/ferrantraite

For most employees, our interaction with Human Resources feels like a fleeting moment when we’re first hired–it’s a blur of benefits, organizational policies, administrative “paperwork” and office perks. However, what we don’t realize is all the hard work HR departments perform that not only smooths out the onboarding process but each workday thereafter.

HR professionals continually experience something new and interesting because HR’s role is situated between the ever-changing competitive challenges organizations face and the needs and concerns of employees. Globalization, technological advances, regulatory changes, workforce diversity, and other societal shifts make the HR world an exciting and dynamic environment in which to build a rewarding career. HR is also demanding, which is why earning a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Development from Villanova University is so valuable.

To get an inside look at how the knowledge and skills you gain earning a master’s degree are put into action on the job, we asked Alex Miller, HR business partner with Northrop Grumman, how his graduate degree from Villanova has prepared him to overcome his daily workplace challenges.

Q: What is a typical day at work like for you?

As someone who works in leadership development, there is no typical day at work–each day is a new day with different challenges. However, our team is always striving to design, develop and execute leadership development programs that help prepare the current and future leaders of our organization to take on bigger and broader roles within the organization in an ever-changing, dynamic environment.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our company has amazing opportunities for every employee, and to grow and succeed, you must be able to step outside of your comfort zone.

Q: How does your advanced degree help you in your day-to-day tasks?

Having an advanced degree in Human Resource Development plays a huge part in succeeding in my current role. A large portion of it is focused on administering 360° assessments to our employees participating in our leadership development programs. Statistics, Organizational Development, and Training and Development are some of the classes that helped set the foundation of how to carry out best practices in this area.

Q: Has a master’s degree helped improve your workplace for fellow employees?

A master’s degree has certainly helped me improve my workplace for fellow employees. I took a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) class because I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the business context for these initiatives. After graduating, I can certainly say it was one of my favorite classes. Sure enough, I end up at Northrop Grumman, which strives to be a leader in this area. My exposure to D&I prior to starting at Northrop Grumman has allowed me to become a catalyst for D&I initiatives we roll out, which ultimately pushes our company to become even more innovative and competitive.

Q: The Human Resource Development Program at Villanova is in the Psychology Department. How do these two fields work together?

These two fields complement each other very well. In fact, my B.A. is in Psychology and my M.S. is in Human Resource Development. I believe this combination gives students the skills to succeed in business because both fields are concerned with maximizing human potential. It is extremely rewarding to see employees leave our leadership development programs revitalized, energized, engaged and ready to apply the skills they’ve learned to their jobs.

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d share with fellow employees outside of the HR department?

I would tell these people to get to know a few people within their Human Resources department to gain an understanding of what they do. In my career, a lot of people outside of HR do not realize how deep and broad the field really is and the parts of the business it touches. At the least, you’ll unveil the mystery of what an HR department actually does, and at the most, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of a business’s most important asset: its people.

To learn more about the Master’s of Science in Human Resource Development from Villanova University visit them for the Human Resource Professionals Information Session November 17.