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Monday Motivation - Kara Boyce

Human Resources Manager, Bryden Stokes Ltd.

Who is Kara Boyce?

I am a woman of God, a wife, and an optimist. I love to encourage others and to add value in any way that I can. I am a true foodie; I love to try new dishes and more recently I love to cook new dishes. I am fearless with goals and dreams but am completely scared of grasshoppers. Most of my time outside of my career is spent on building my marriage with "Davey", serving at my church, progressing my businesses, or writing and recording music in the studio. I occasionally have my closest friends over at our home but they would usually grill me because I often drop to sleep before 10:00 pm.

What does a typical day for you look like?

A typical day for me begins with a devotional; it sets the stage for my character. It's a way to remind myself of who God wants me to be daily. From there, I listen to a good audio, maybe Les Brown, Myles Monroe or Steve Harvey while I'm preparing for work. Once I get into the office, my time is no longer my own, it is no longer about me; so I use the time during my commute to fill my own tank. It is important to be full in order to encourage.

On the more professional front, I am guided by my to-do list. I review my list when I get into the office, and identify the priority items. I'm a hybrid between "early riser" and 'night owl" which means I am most productive in the morning and then again after 3:00 pm. So, I structure my days according to my peak times. I usually leave time between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to meet with employees, send emails, do the more administrative functions or work on last-minute items. If I ever find myself in a rut or ever feel overwhelmed, it's mainly as a result of not referring to my to-do list. It really is a necessary tool.

What was your first job?

Wow. My first job was a summer job with M.G. Tucker, the dealer for Honda (now closed). I was 19 years old. I can remember it so clearly. It was for a period of 3 weeks and I got paid each Friday in a brown envelope. Mrs. Tucker would come and sit in front of my desk and say great job this week and hand over the "big bucks" (LOL). I felt independent. I opened my first account on my own with my first week's pay. I remember one lesson I learned from that summer job was to always ask questions. I was relieving the Administrative Assistant during her holiday, so some of the functions included scheduling valuations, collecting payments and so on. I remember writing a receipt and making a mistake. So I tore the receipt out of the book and threw it into the trash. When it was time to reconcile, Mrs. Tucker had lots of questions. I remember digging through the trash out of fear of being fired. The Sales Manager and someone that I will continue to hold dear to my heart (late David Foster) sat me down and gave me a pep talk about asking questions and seeking guidance. A lesson I continue to practice to date.

I then moved on to work for the Katwalk Boutique, where I developed my selling skills. Outside of selling clothing and accessories, I had to sweep and mop the floors, take out the trash, ensure the changing rooms were clear until I then graduated to opening and closing the store. Shanelle (my then boss) instilled great lessons on entrepreneurship.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Human Resources Manager.

My journey to becoming an HR Manager was without a doubt ordained by God. Outside of the two jobs mentioned previously, my professional life really commenced with RBTT Bank as a Teller. I was studying Psychology with Law at UWI and due to some unforeseen financial difficulties, I needed to find a job to finance the remainder of my studies at the Cave Hill Campus. On reflection, that was my first obstacle. I had two choices at that point; I could have drowned in my own pity and be a victim to "an unfair world", or get up and make a way. And so I did. I found a job. My brothers were a really big support during this time as well and they chipped in until I got my first pay cheque. I was then promoted within one year to CSR Complex and then again in another nine months to Account Manager.

At the point of the offer for Account Manager, I remember asking some of the others in the field about their experience in the role and whether the targets were attainable. Each individual that I spoke to gave the same response; "you will never hit the targets, that's just how the system was created" or, "it is stressful". It is either I spoke to the wrong individuals or I was motivated by their responses. Nonetheless, I took that job and rose to the Top 3. What were the lessons here? Your journey is yours and yours alone. Be teachable but not impressionable. Always believe in yourself and the desire you have within to succeed. Mindset is everything!

I went on to complete my degree and received a scholarship to pursue my MSc in Labour & Employment Relations. I continued to work full-time and study full-time. I had classes every day, including Saturdays. I played volleyball up until that point and made the sacrifice to quit playing until I completed my studies. I was determined to stick to the timelines and the goals I had set for myself.

Upon completing my Masters, while I was on holiday from the bank, I visited the Secretariat for the Human Resources Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) to become a member and to network with HR Professionals. On my first visit, I had a great conversation with one of the employees who then shared an advertisement with me for the position of Labour Management Advisor with the Barbados Employers' Confederation (BEC). At the time, she was not sure whether my application would be accepted since the deadline was two weeks prior. Despite that factor, I got dressed up, printed my CV, and visited the BEC with a request to speak directly to the Executive Director. Unfortunately, Mr. Walcott (the then ED) was on a business trip so that did not go as planned. I then emailed him, got a response that led to an interview that led to the offer of a Research Officer position. Fast-tracking my experience with the BEC, I was promoted to Labour Management Advisor (the actual position that I wanted) after three months as Research Officer and spent three remarkable years with that company. It was such a fast but intense learning curve that involved a series of continued personal and professional development trips to represent employers throughout the Caribbean and Europe, participation on Boards and Committees, and so on. The highlight for me throughout this journey, however, was the opportunity to learn from so many business owners, MDs, CEOs, and other HR Professionals while supporting their various organizations in HR and IR.

My lesson here was simple; if you are the smartest person in the room, then change rooms; but if you are not, then shut up and listen. A harsh reality for most of us, but a humble lesson that will catapult your career.

I then moved on from the BEC to work with one of the MDs of a company that was previously on my portfolio. I am very selective with those I choose to learn from and be mentored by. I joined my current company as the HR Officer supporting an HR Manager with 25 years' experience. Only to recognize recently that she was downloading her wealth of knowledge and experience, moulding me, as she prepared for the next phase of her life. So, as life would have it, she moved on to pursue her passion and I was promoted to HR Manager.

The weeks between learning the news of her transition to receiving the offer for the position were filled with such anxiety, fear, self-doubt, and much more emotions. I remember being rushed to Sandy Crest while in excruciating pain and saying to the Doctors, give me drips and I'll go back to work, I cannot seem unreliable at this critical time. Instead, they demanded that I take leave for two weeks - (I negotiated that downward of course) - and insisted that I see two specialists. I still tried to push myself beyond my limits and had a complete breakdown. It was at that point that I let go and trusted God to take the lead. Today, I am proud to be learning from an amazing leader and expanding my perspective of HR in the workplace. Some days are tough, then there are others when I get the opportunity to pray with employees and speak life into their career paths with us, but through it all Colossians 3:23 keeps me going. There are exciting times ahead.

How best would you advise individuals to stand out on the job market and aspiring HR professionals?

Network, network, network! Get a mentor. Join a professional organization such as HRMAB and volunteer to gain experience. If you can, attain some knowledge in Financial Management to add greater value to the business as opposed to confining yourself to HR. Finally, make 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie one of your favorite books.

What is one common myth about the Human Resources profession that you would like to clarify?

"HR is simply there to hire and fire" - The HR profession continues to develop and expand. It's no longer personnel management but contains options such as HR Generalist, Compensation Specialist, HR Business Partners, Talent Management, and so on. Choose the area within HR you wish to pursue and go after it. HR is now taking a seat at many business tables, so get comfortable with our presence.


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