Spotlight on MIM Alumni: Shelby Anderson

Name: Shelby Anderson
Company: Grant Thornton
Company/Job Location: Chicago, IL
Job Title: Global Project Coordinator, People & Culture
Duration: 8 months
MIM Graduation Date: December 2010

Shelby Anderson

MIM: How did you find your job?
SA: During the second year of my program, I was assigned a mentor (SBA alumna); she gave excellent advice for revamping my resume and for networking in general, both of which helped significantly. Since I was planning to relocate to a new metro area, Chicago, I relied primarily on websites throughout my job search. I found my job posting on after searching and applying for positions for about two months.
MIM: Please tell us about the interview process for your position.
SA: After I ‘officially’ applied for my position via the corporate website, I knew that I had to do something further to get noticed; especially because hundreds of people typically apply for any given posting these days. After being resourceful and ultimately finding the name of the hiring manager and her email address, I sent my resume and cover letter along with a personal note. Within a matter of minutes, I received a call back asking to conduct a ‘brief” 15 minute telephone screening interview. That 15 minute call turned into a full two-hour interview where I spoke to several people on the team; at the end of which I was offered the position in Chicago. Persistence and resourcefulness go a long way!
MIM: Is your current job in line with your previous work and professional experience or is this a career change?
SA: While there are some similarities to my previous position as a program coordinator at OHSU, my role at Grant Thornton is different in many ways. I’m now working for an international company and have the opportunity to interact with employees and clients from around the globe. Additionally, I’ve transitioned from a medical university to the professional services industry – specifically, an accounting firm. Furthermore, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to work within a “People and Culture” function; otherwise known as strategic HR or organizational development.
Although this was a career transition, I was able to make the case for my transferable skills. Since I had 10 years of program coordination, event planning, and administrative support experience, I expressed in my cover letter and interview that I had the foundational skills necessary to succeed in the role, along with a strong desire to learn and build upon my existing skill set. I also highlighted my MIM degree near the top of my resume and linked it to my desire to work in a global capacity.
MIM: How do you think the MIM program helped you get your job?
SA: Because I didn’t have prior experience working for a global company and this was a career change, my MIM degree not only helped me land the interview; it sealed the deal. It demonstrated that I had the desire and the “chops” to pursue my global interests; this dedication is looked highly upon by employers. Not only did the MIM degree help me attain the position; it helped bump me up to a higher starting salary range.
MIM: What is your job like on a daily basis?
SA: Grant Thornton is made up of over 100 independently operated accounting firms. The People & Culture team is charged with creating a more consistent and cohesive culture across the worldwide organization by creating standardized tools, processes and programs that member firms can leverage to attract and retain the best people. In my role, I support four project managers with various initiatives that align HR to the organization’s overall global strategy. For instance, I assisted on a project that involved developing and rolling out a knowledge-sharing website where HR leaders across the world can share best practices with one another to affect positive change. I also work closely with our Global Talent Mobility Manager to administer a centralized global opportunities website where firms can post jobs and manage applications in one central location, with standardized protocols so that applicants worldwide have a consistent experience.
Other projects that I’m involved with include the engagement survey (internal), image survey (external), global competencies, performance management and the creation of standards for HR infrastructure in member firms. For each of these projects, I help lead communication efforts to ensure that member firms stay abreast of these tools through written communications, telephone consultations and interactive webinars.
MIM: Is there any travel associated with your position?
SA: Because I’m in a coordinator role providing support to multiple managers who travel, my role is primarily home-based. I did have the opportunity to travel to our world headquarters in London, however, and have a team meeting scheduled in Miami next month. As I take on more challenges and begin to lead some of the projects on my own, travel will surely increase.
MIM: What do you really love most about your job, position or company?
SA: I love the fact that I get to interact on a daily basis with people from around the world. It challenges me to stop and think about multiple factors before taking actions and making decisions (i.e. time zones, language differences, cultural considerations).
MIM: What do you hope for your future career plans?  
SA: I would love to be in a position someday where I have the opportunity to help prepare expatriates for their work abroad, as well as repatriation back into their home office. As we learned in [MIM] Global HR class, a high percentage of assignments abroad fail because people aren’t appropriately prepared. I believe global talent mobility creates opportunities for high caliber business leaders to take their careers to the next level and contribute immensely to their firm’s success, creating a pipeline of highly talented individuals within a company. It would be rewarding to play a key role in creating this pipeline.
MIM: What do you think is your most valuable take-away from the MIM program?
SA: The biggest takeaway from the MIM program is that I’ve learned to automatically consider other perspectives besides my own. Not only have I gained a deeper appreciation for other cultures; I’ve become more strategic in considering various functions within the business (i.e. marketing, HR, finance, etc). To be successful in any global role, this is an absolute necessity.
MIM: What is your favorite memory of the MIM program?
SA: Without a doubt, the Asia field study is my favorite MIM memory. It’s one thing to learn by reading books and listening to lectures; it is quite another to observe first-hand how Asian businesses operate and to see pieces of Chinese, Korean and Japanese history with my very own eyes. I also had the opportunity to practice my Japanese language skills outside the classroom, which was much needed. All in all, I learned a lot and had an amazing time with great friends in my cohort.
MIM: What advice can you provide to current and future MIM students?
SA: When it comes to looking for jobs, it’s important to apply with confidence and don’t be afraid to show some creativity in getting noticed. Know that the MIM degree is an asset on your resume and will help set you apart from the competition. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of forming strong connections with your friends, coworkers and local business leaders; most of my friends from the program obtained their jobs through the power of networking.

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Filed under Ali's Entries, Alumni, Asia Trip, Careers, Job Search, Mentorship, Networking

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