Angela Schaefer has twenty plus years’ legal experience and over a decade of experience in Human Resources and Employment Relations, having held senior roles as an Employment Manager at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. and a Director level HR role at Thompson Coburn LLP.
A certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Angela currently serves as the VP of Human Resources & Employee Engagement at Safety National Casualty Corporation. She is also President, HRMA of Greater St. Louis, a SHRM Affiliate Chapter.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
I think most people would agree that education is important, but overall the type of education must be relevant. And for me, relevant education comes in a variety of forms. Of course there are the traditional degrees, but does that degree you might have earned right out of high school remain relevant 10 years later? Probably not. HR professionals must never stop learning and developing. Whether you choose webinars, seminars, or conferences, or gain knowledge from others in your organization or profession you must continue to learn in order to remain relevant and on top of your game. Last month, Trish McFarlane with Brandon Hall Group presented the keynote presentation at the HRMA of Greater St. Louis chapter meeting. She said something to our members that resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing, but Trish implored that we keep developing professionally to prepare for the job we’re going to have in the future. The job that we don’t even know that we’ll want, or that doesn’t yet exist. But when it does, because we have continued to invest in our education… our professional development, we’ll be ready.
After high school I went to college for a couple years but decided to put my degree on hold and started working fulltime. I found myself working in the legal industry for private law firms (my first position was as a back-up receptionist) and started to see professional opportunities that I wanted to pursue. While still working fulltime I went back to school fulltime and finished my BA in Organizational Studies at the age of 31. Ten years later, I completed my MA in Human Resources Management. Along the way I earned my PHR and later my SPHR and have attended countless conferences, seminars, webcasts, and have quite the library of HR, diversity and inclusion, and general business books. The focus of my educational endeavors has always been to be learn as much as I can to benefit not only myself but also my team and, of course, my employer.
I spent over 20 years in the legal industry, with the last 15 focused in human resources. I recently left the legal industry after serving as the Director of Human Resources for a large national law firm and have joined Safety National Casualty Corporation as the VP of Human Resources and Employee Engagement. My experiences over the last 20 years have prepared me for this new role. I wouldn’t have been able to take on this opportunity five years ago. I would say Trish is right, wouldn’t you?!
1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?
In this new role I am learning everything I can about the insurance/reinsurance industry. It’s a very exciting time for me.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
All of the above. Well, except for multitasking! I don’t believe we can effectively multitask, I prefer to call it “managing multiple priorities”. And to echo Kyle Jones’ response from a few weeks ago, flexibility is key. No day is ever the same, no situation is ever the same. A successful HR practitioner has to be able to quickly switch gears and not get bogged down in the black and white of policies and procedures. As an “ISTJ,” I continue to develop in this area and sometimes surprise myself at how flexible or “out of the box” I can be, but I think that definitely comes from experience and knowing the goals and strategy of the organization.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?
As I mentioned, I am very new to my role, and while I expect there will be aspects of each to some extent, my responsibilities primarily will focus on the improving and building. I am fortunate to have joined a strong organization with a great HR department. As the company grows we must “improve and build” as we strive to maintain our corporate culture.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
I currently manage a team of four and most recently managed a team of eight.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
Regardless of what detractors might say – HR is strategic and, when done right, absolutely impacts a business’ bottom line. At the most fundamental level, HR impacts our business at Safety National as it relates to over-all talent management and employee benefit offerings. By aligning our talent management strategy with our business goals, and offering exceptional benefits, we are in a better position to meet the emerging needs of our clients and continue to be a leader in our industry.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
Let’s say three. I’m in an air-conditioned office, but I’m not surrounded in bubble wrap, so I suppose I could encounter your typical office hazard, you know like tripping on a part of the carpet that I swear is raised but no one else trips over it. That kind of thing.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
I’m only four weeks in so I’ll have to get back to you on that one! Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to engage with your network!
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.