Dr. Beverly Kaye graduated from The College of New Jersey, or what was then known as Trenton State College, in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. “When I came to school, a woman could only be a secretary, a nurse, or a teacher…So I went to Trenton State not with a desperate passion to be an elementary school teacher,” Kaye confessed. While the career choice may not have been immediately appealing to Kaye, it was her involvement and activeness at Trenton State that showed her more possibilities and eventually led her to what she really wanted to do. Kaye was inspired to go back to school, this time for a master’s degree in college administration at George Washington University.
After six years of what Kaye called “college deanhood,” a career that included advising students, running student activities, and overseeing dormitories and residence halls, Kaye was once again ready for another change. She accepted a fellowship at UCLA that crossed management with education, “the perfect marriage,” according to Kaye. Shortly after earning her doctorate, Kaye was invited to write a book for human resource professionals. This eventually became Up is Not the Only Way, published in 1982. The success of the publication propelled Kaye into a career as a HR consultant and soon, the founding of her company, Career Systems International. She has since published 5 books for both managers and employees. Dr. Kaye recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Association for Talent Development (ATD), recognizing her advanced knowledge and extensive practice across the talent development field and thought leadership which have had a significant impact on individuals and organizations over many years.
Spending over 40 years in the human resources industry, Kaye has witnessed first-hand the field’s rapid growth and with it more opportunities for men and especially women to take on leadership roles. As Kaye put it, “in those days, it took women a lot more time to have their voices heard than it did for men.” But, as Kaye explained, through a combination of woman-to-woman mentorship and “chiseling away at the myths” that female professionals were expected to believe, the voice of women is now stronger, and they now enjoy a much vaster array of career choices. “I’ve seen more women leaders across industries than ever before,” Kaye said.
But there is still more work to be done, especially in developing the “leadership pipeline,” according to Kaye. She explained that HR leaders need to focus on mobility within an organization and cultivate an organizational culture that prizes personal and professional development, as well as employee engagement and retention. She also advised HR leaders to consider generational differences in organizations, and more specifically, how incoming millennials are changing the nature of the workplace.
Dr. Kaye was then asked what kind of advice she would give to students interviewing for HR jobs, to which she offered four tips:
- Study the organization (“Study like crazy,” Kaye emphasized). You should know who its competitors are and how it stays in the game.
- Questions are more important than answers. You should come prepared with thoughtful and provocative questions that show that you have thought about the issues the organization is facing.
- Know how to talk about your experience. Use your TCNJ experiences, both academic and extracurricular.
- Show self-awareness. You should be able to talk about your blind spots and the ways in which working for the organization will help you learn.
Most importantly, according to Kaye, you should look beyond your GPA. Interviewers are looking at your curiosity, inventiveness, self-awareness, and your willingness to pursue opportunities and adapt to change. “Change is the name of the game.”