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Career Changes & Potential Illegal Activity at Work

The Black In HR (TM) is proud to announce our new weekly blog with Ayesha J. Whyte, JD, SPHR. Ayesha is a strategic human resources leader and seasoned attorney who has served in leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company, Amtrak and WeWork. This week, Ayesha provides guidance and answers questions important to our readers on topics related to leadership and career changes.


How do I move from Employee Relations HRBP to a Director level role? My ultimate goal is to be a CHRO.

This is an excellent question and one in which I have experience as I went from a specialist in employee relations to a CHRO. The first step is to gain more generalist experience.


If you do not have one yet, consider getting a HR certification from SHRM or HRCI. Second, seek out a mentor who is either an executive in HR or Operations. A large part of moving into senior level roles is understanding the operations (profit & losses) of the business you're in, how many employees it takes to sufficiently run and/or grow that business and how to manage an internal budget.

When you have the first two steps in place for 6-9 months, request to meet with your CHRO informally to discuss your career progression and share what you have been doing in preparation for that next role and ask if there are any projects that you can work on to stretch your skills. With these steps you will be well on your way.



What advice would you give to a professional seeking to branch out into other areas of HR after specializing in one area for several years?

My advice is to get exposure to that other area of HR prior to applying for a move. You can get exposure through stretch assignments in the other areas. For example, if you are looking to branch out into People Operations start by asking to be involved in the next employee engagement survey which involves operations, analytics and employee engagement. Also, look into getting a specialized certification in the area of your interest (e.g., Talent Acquisition, Compensation/Benefits, etc.).


How would you recommend asking for a release & severance package from a company where I am unhappy? The company is doing potentially illegal/shady things?

So this is a tricky one, and this is my advice as an HR professional and NOT as an attorney. If you would like to resign and have another job offer in place, draft an email to HR and your company’s internal counsel stating that the environment that you are currently working in has made you uncomfortable. You can concisely state the reasons why. Make sure you send a copy to your personal email. Let your employer know that you wish to leave the company amicably and with a severance that will allow you to more easily transition into a new role. You will hear back from your company within a day and you will be able to take it from there. Please know, your company may not be willing to give a severance but if nothing else you have placed your concerns in writing and have another job to go to.



From Ayesha: Advice & opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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