Karen Oakey

I’m an executive human resources industry leader focused on aligning people strategy to business strategy while not losing pulse on what it takes to get the Day2Day done; yes, I can get right in the weeds with my teams when needed. I take a “People First” approach. If what’s being done is right, fair, and consistent, then the “required bits” are often being met (you know, those legal, compliance, and regulatory things); multi-state experience. I work with executives and leaders from a collaborative approach to best understand the companies mission, business, strategy, business needs, and goals to join the two worlds of business operations and people operations. This approach allows the company to thrive during periods of rapid growth while remaining stable and consistent overall.

I am passionate about people! I’ve found that building the best people foundation to foster employee development and growth results in great company culture. I’ve done this by combining tools and resources that help the employees excel in their roles and contributions to achieving the company goals. I’d not describe my approach as corporate or stuffy; the people industry has enough negativity associated with it. Instead, I like to take a collaborative approach with business leaders and have fun along the way! It’s important to brand the people industry as a business partner to the organization and not an impediment. I stay engaged in my craft outside of work through public speaking, events such as DisruptHR to HR and Business professionals looking to learn more in a fun, social, not-stuffy atmosphere. I visit high-school students to speak about their career paths, resumes, and interview processes. I also sit on the Stetson University Leadership Board as an advisor giving feedback on their Disruptive Leadership Program, providing case studies to students, and mentoring young professionals.

I’m also very honored to be featured in professional articles and in outlets such as Forbes, The Ladders, HR Daily Advisor, Lattice, SHRM, and more. Through initiatives like Gainesville’s Career Discover Day for high-school students, the service to my local community has been a passion. How do I stay at my best? Leaning into my great network of people, professionals, communities, and groups energizes me to be and bring my best self to the table. Let’s talk and discover new ways to explore, challenge and facilitate change inside the industry by focusing on the people.

What words of advice and encouragement would you give to someone just starting out in HR?

People Professionals have never been more in demand and the opportunities within our industry include breadth and depth which will allow you to specialize in any area! Try each area and find what really energizes your soul!

HR Encyclopedia articles written by Karen:

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