Good to Know: SUDIAH HAYNES - The Mother of Reinvention
Sudiah Haynes is a Human Resources Administrator in the Oil and Gas industry in Houston, TX. This Long Beach, CA transplant relocated to Houston a few years ago and upped the ante on her career path. She is now making her mark in the Human Resources field.
Sudiah graduated high school at age 16. She worked for a year before heading off to Southern University. After college, upon returning home, she says she lost some focus. “I began working jobs, just to make sure I had enough money in my pocket and gas to get to the hottest parties any night of the week. I soon got tired of working dead-end jobs in customer service so I got serious. I knew I was capable of and I wanted more than to listen to customer complaints.” Part of what helped Sudiah get serious was having an unbelievably incredible, supportive mother who, herself, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. “She nurtured me and pushed me to excel continuously. She raised me to be culturally aware, spiritually grounded and to work hard. Also, the girlfriends around me, that were also partying with me at night, were growing professionally so I found motivation to strive for more for myself. We all had similar upbringings - inner city homes, single mother raised, college educated. We supported one another as each of us graduated, got better jobs, and made more money. I went from customer service/call centers to client services and beyond without looking back. I’ve since transitioned into a Human Resources career that I am proud of, where I can secure a job with any company, get paid substantially, and work in a position that is in line with my personality. The same can be said of the circle of sisters that supported me. We are all successful, career-focused (not consumed), life-loving, beautiful black women.”
Thanks for making time for this interview today. I’ll get right to the Q&A and ask, what did you study in school?
English. I actually wanted to write and go into journalism.
Oh, in that case I may have to ask you about being a contributing writer to Positive Black in the future.
You already did. (Laughs) You came at me all at once with the interview request, writing.. everything.
OK. That sounds like me. (LOL) So where did you study?
I went to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A classic school. What lead you into the Human Resources field?
It was actually by chance that I got into the HR field. I wasn’t seeking this field. I knew I wanted to make a change career-wise. I knew that I was strong on the administrative skills side and I ended up kind of falling into this path.
Happily falling into it?
Oh yes, happily falling. It was something that, from the outside looking in, I’d originally perceived as untouchable. It was like “How do you get into that mix?” It is female-dominated in most companies and often White female dominated at a lot of companies so it seemed like something out of reach. But I did it. Now, I’ve been in H.R. for seven years.
You came from the administrative and clerical side? What was your path to Human Resources?
After college I came back home (Los Angeles) and I took jobs in Customer Service, in call centers in different industries. I knew what I wanted to do so I repackaged myself targeting a more clerical-related position as opposed to a production person. I had other skills and was able to successfully move into a clerical position.
So what was your next move?
While working in the clerical field I started to take stock of what I was currently doing that I could apply elsewhere. For one, keeping information confidential, which is Business Etiquette 101. Also, I knew my strong organizational and administrative skills could be an asset. I updated my resume and targeted job openings that were a fit for my updated skill set, and talked my way into them. What are three things you’d recommend a student can do to prepare for working in the H.R. field?
I would say prepare to work hard. Be prepared to work with people at all levels from executives, to hiring managers, to other employees and even third party personnel vendors. Be prepared to talk and talk and
and talk and try meet everyone’s needs. AND if you can’t meet everyone’s needs be prepared to say so. Being prepared would mean having excellent communication skills; being personable, being relatable. There will come tough situations where you will have to have difficult conversations and if people don’t feel like you are listening to them or engaged, they may not open up to you. Prepare yourself by knowing employment law on a basic level.
What about the diplomacy you employ when working in HR? I mean, in scenarios like layoff situations and irate employees, YOU can’t snap. Or should I say snap back.
Yes, that can be tough. I mean, you’re human too. And having to wear the hat of employer and employee can be difficult. You always have to walk that line that defines you as a company representative and still relate to employee’s day to day issues.
What about networking? Do you network with others in your field outside of in-office work?
I do network when I am out at HR professional events, making sure to always keep business cards on me. I make an effort to not only discuss what I do professionally but also what I’m interested in personally (the positive upliftment of black girls).
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Married with children, and an expansive record collection. In five years I see myself as a HR Professional but also involved in Community Outreach with a focus on helping black girls strive for greatness.
Oh, so you aspirations outside of the HR field? Entrepreneural plans?
I have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, and I once had my own small business selling women’s trendy accessories while living in Los Angeles.
I have always been passionate about self-image and self-esteem building in black girls, along with hip-hop culture. Ideally, I would like to create my own non-profit version of “Black Girls Rock”.
So, you find some credibility in the idea that to increase your potential for success you should surround yourself with positive people?
There is strength in sisterhood by keeping positive, motivated, goal oriented women around you. It is extremely important for growth, personally and professionally, to seek to build relationships with other women that are in key, decision making positions. In most of my career my managers have been women and what I've found is a shared
experience in the reach for the next level. In their proximity, there have been invaluable bits of mentoring and guidance they’ve deposited into me along the way. Yes, there will be “haters” and corporate bullies, but having knowledge of your creator and self, a strong work ethic and being a consummate professional will take you where you chose to go.
I never grow tired of these success stories in the Black community. There’s nothing like setting a mark for yourself and hitting it. It takes some self-discipline and focus to stay on your path but it can be done. Sudiah Haynes is living proof of ‘to each his reach’.