Magazine article HRMagazine

The Right Career Forecast

Magazine article HRMagazine

The Right Career Forecast

Article excerpt

Sylvia Taylor is clearly pleased with the direction her career has taken.

"Even if I approached my career decisions in some other way, I don't think I would've chosen differently," Taylor says. Her career has brought her to the northwest suburbs of her hometown, Atlanta, to a corner office on the fifth floor of the offices of The Weather Channel LLC, where she is executive vice president of human resources.

Below Taylor's window, traffic weaves across 10 lanes of Atlanta's beltway. And probably not one of the thousands of drivers who pass every day, or the approximately 700 employees at The Weather Channel's headquarters, have a better sense of direction than Taylor. Throughout her career, Taylor has taken deliberate steps to become an effective business leader and to cultivate her 27-year career in HR management, including three years in an international assignment.

The Weather Channel was looking to enhance its online footprint and expand into the emerging digital landscape when the company recruited Taylor in 2010. Her experience as vice president of human resources at Auto- Trader.com grabbed executives' attention. Now Chief Executive Officer David Kenny says he relies on Taylor's abilities.

"Sylvia makes sure we are growing the team to meet our growth potential on multiple fronts-television, digital, mobile and business to business," Kenny says. "We're running fast, and Sylvia is always staying one step ahead to make sure we have the human capital needed for tomorrow."

Here's what Taylor had to say about her career and the HR profession during a recent interview with HR Magazine.

What advice would you give someone starting an HR career?

Having a vision or good idea of what you want is essential. I started with an end in mind and created options for myself as my career progressed.

You were working toward a degree in social work at Howard University when you decided that career was not what you wanted. What led you to that decision?

That was the early '80s, and there was a recession and the job market was weak. The best jobs coming out of college generally required degrees in engineering, computer science and business administration. I knew that a business degree would fit me better, so I decided to go for an MBA.

How do you measure HR's contribution to an organization?

Becoming a true strategic and valued partner doesn't happen overnight. You must demonstrate that you know and understand the business and that you can be a trusted advisor.

What have you learned from your toughest challenges?

In the 1990s, the head of corporate HR at Mobil at the time reshuffled the staff and put me in charge of a department that needed to make a process change across the entire company. Following the reorganization, I learned that my former boss would now be reporting to me. …

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