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Jumping in and Making a Difference

We interviewed Trina Fongyen, Director, Human Resources, Peraton and new member of HR Alliance DC.  Continue reading to learn more about Trina!
When did you join HR Alliance and what were a few of the reasons you joined?
I joined in November of 2021 with the goal of expanding my network and reconnecting with my peers and HR colleagues. Since the pandemic, I had not been able to maintain and grow my professional relationships as much as I would have liked.

What has been valuable to you as a new member?
What I found most valuable was to meet more HR professionals at different levels across many organizations. I had worked with one of the members, Janet Brewer, before and she recommended I consider joining HR Alliance. I wanted to jump in and make a difference which is why I joined the Programs Committee. Everyone was very welcoming and listened to my ideas. Since November, I helped identify the moderator for the upcoming Women In Leadership program on March 9, and I proposed a program about mergers and acquisitions that I'm currently working with the committee on now.

What professional insight would you share with other members?
It is important to know about your own personal brand and what that means to you and others. There is a chance, especially given the pandemic, that our personal brands become a bit stagnant. Now is an important time to push yourself to expand and be visible when many of us have defaulted to being more reclusive.

If you put yourself out there you can gain more experience, learn, and elevate your personal brand and add ways to develop your professional skill set and increase how you can positively impact those around you.

How has the HR Alliance impacted your perspective as an HR leader?
Within just a few conversations, it was helpful to know that the challenges I face are not necessarily unique to me and my organization. Many people face similar challenges and I am not alone. Currently I am in the process of integrating multiple companies and have over 3,500 employees to engage and retain. Meeting with other HR professionals informally as well as attending the programming and events provides additional input for me to incorporate into how I approach my role each day.

What keeps you motivated and inspired day to day?
One of our roles as HR leaders is to lift others up while also lifting ourselves up. That can be challenging sometimes and there are a few specific goals I have to help me navigate stress and not feel overwhelmed or burnt out. I find humor where I can, I get up and stretch, take a walk away from my desk - even if it is just for a few minutes. It is important to take small breaks, for our mental health, even if it is just five or ten minutes.

How have you changed your interactions with others during the pandemic?
I think it is important to pick up the phone and check in on people, not just email all of the time. It is important to connect  and so I meet with my team members every week. During COVID I increased team meetings to once a week, instead of every two weeks. I also added a light-hearted, informal element to each team meeting to give us time to relax, play, and connect with each other. I have done online scavenger hunts, or “caption this” games. I have been fortunate to retain my team through COVID, which is very important to me.

What are best practices you use to help stay in touch and engaged with your team?
I think it is important to really ask yourself if you know your team. Do you know at least two personal things about each person? If not, spend some time getting to know your team and building those relationships. I have an open door policy and consistently check in informally on how people are doing as well.  

What do you want more people to understand about HR?
HR professionals and leaders enjoy driving  strategic solutions and collaborating with the business to achieve their goals. We are no longer the “personnel department” or there to just push papers along. We have unique opportunities given our perspective to see potential challenges in advance and get in front of them. Right now many people have choices to leave their organizations and HR is critical in helping organizations think through benefits, compensation, and how to retain their talent as well as attract and engage talent too. We constantly listen to what our people and managers need and invest in improving whatever we can, wherever we can, to make a difference.

Thank you to Trina for taking the time to share her expertise and insights with our community. Be sure to connect with her on LinkedIn as well.

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