Hybrid HR (Has my move from R&D to HR been completed?)
As Israel’s VP People at BigPanda (AIOps startup of 260 employees to date, and keep counting), I meet every new employee in an “intro to HR” meeting. The best part in these meetings is when I tell them I am originally a developer. The surprise on their faces always reminds me how hard it was to make the decision to change my profession, to change the definition of what I do and what I’m good at.
Hi, I am Irit and I am an HR and R&D. Or is it R&D and HR?
If someone would MRI my brain, there’s probably a math notebook there. I always liked solving problems, got along with Math, Physics and everything that did not require me to memorize by-heart. I started coding in high-school, and I was amazed by the endless tools coding gave me to simplify and solve complicated problems. It felt at home from day one.
Those coding abilities carved my way to the IDF computer unit, then to an Engineering degree and right into the hugging arms of the Hi-Tech industry.
I spent years in R&D roles (first as a developer and then as R&D manager), went through tens of organizational changes and invested hundreds of hours in management meetings. I found myself coaching and mentoring managers across the organization, helping them process their thoughts, planning how to achieve their goals, how to build their teams and become better leaders.
In the beginning it wasn’t official, just a vacuum I sensed in the field and a super-supportive manager who encouraged me to fill the gap. With time, the coach outfit became more natural to me, I found myself drawn more towards the coaching and managing tasks. I started to suspect this could be my calling but is that a real passion or just a crush? Is there a real profession behind those sessions? Can I do this full-time without a conservative education?
After many pros and cons lists, I found the courage to take the chance and give HR a try. But then I realized it’s harder to find the person that would give me that official first HR role. Who would be creative enough to see beyond my CV (that were still yelling at this stage “she is R&D”)?
Eventually, I found the combination of the courageous two managers who were willing to take the risk (both the VP R&D and the VP HR had to agree to it). Two weeks after I started, the VP HR gave me the “keys” to lead the HR of the R&D organization and her full support for initiating changes. This was the sign for me that I took the right step, my first confirmation in the HR world.
Today, 9 years later, When I am asked for my profession in my kids’ school forms, I still write “Engineer”. With every passing year I wonder: will I ever complete the transition? Or was I always HR from the first place?
I guess I’ll just stay hybrid for now… :-)