Who is Sheena Bradshaw?
The two terms that best describe me are social introvert and bibliophile. I also like to observe people and their quirks. My paternal grandmother always advised us, "God gave you two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason" and I believe I took this very much to heart as I am always described as 'quiet'. However, this skill of being observant has served me well in my profession, but unfortunately it has also developed a sarcastic and dry sense of humor. Self development especially in terms of improving my skill sets has always been a major driving force and I cannot remember a time in the last 10 years where I have not been studying, either academically or vocationally. I also love our crop-over festival and no other genre beats soca music.
What does a typical day for Sheena look like?
Hectic, there are always many emails to respond to, calls to answer, meetings to attend, training and information to be presented and policy and procedural documents to be written.
What was your first job?
I was an entrepreneur! I had a small 'kitchen garden' and sold vegetables, mostly lettuce and carrots in my former neighborhood. That, along with having to save money from my weekly allowance to purchase reading material, taught me the value and freedom of working for my own money from early.
What do you consider the most rewarding aspect of working as a Human Resource professional?
Mentoring younger persons. At times we can be harsh on younger persons and judge quickly, especially on appearances, instead of having earnest discussions and leading them to an understanding of what is and is not acceptable in certain working environments. In speaking with many young persons, I have come to understand that the guidance myself and peers in my age group would have received, is simply not available to many young persons, and to assist, we need to pass on this advice.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
I would advise anyone interested in human resources, that in order to be effective in the role of Advisor, you have to be acquainted with the industry and business in which you operate. So be prepared to get from behind the desk and do walkabouts and interact with every level of the organization, aiming to become familiar with the business, departmental and individual goals. As an HR professional, success cannot be achieved, trying to act as an independent department. And make friends with finance, they approve budgets.
COVID-19 has impacted career professionals everywhere. Any advice for life during and after this pandemic?
My advise to those persons who have found themselves on lay-off or unemployed is quadripartite.
1. Make a plan especially a financial plan, as this is the area where most of your stress will originate during this period. After you have submitted the necessary documentation to the NIS department, take a good look at what income you can expect for the period and your expenses. Call and make any arrangements with creditors to reduce or halt dept payments and carefully evaluate where you can cut back, differentiate between must-haves and wants.
2. Use this season to invest in yourself. Keep up to date with what is happening in your profession. Take advantage of free online courses to update your skills. Is there a certification, you wanted to pursue? Take this time to do research on it, even if you have to plan to complete it at a later date. Is there a skill you wanted to learn? The Barbados Vocational Training Board offers some excellent evening courses. There is also the employment bureau located in Warrens, you can register there and take advantage of the free learning opportunities offered as well. Now would be a good time to update your resume with achievements, experience and new skills.
3. Take advantage of any reasonable temporary opportunities. My mantra applies here, 'do what you can until you can do better'. Many companies in the interim until the economy has returned to some normalcy, may offer part-time or project based work. It might not be the job you want but temporary positions can ease some pressure on finances and may lead to permanent employment when the opportunity arises.
3. Keep positive. Now I am not saying that everything will be sunshine, there will be disappointments and negative experiences throughout the period but try to process any salient points from these experiences and move on to the next.
What is one common myth about the Human Resources profession that you would like to clarify?
Myth - That Human Resources cares only about enforcing policies and employee disciplinary issues; we are there to hire, reprimand and fire. While that does form part of the overall scope of HR, policies are developed to protect both the employee and employer and ensure that the manner in which we address each other and approach our work, is respectful. We are involved in activities such as employee learning and development, analytics for improvement, mentoring, succession planning, company branding, rewards and recognition and much more. Our business is managing the most dynamic resource - people!
If you could tell your 15 year old self something, what would it be?
Trust your instincts more.