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We are proud to welcome Deborah Hamill to the team. With over 12 years of experience in Global HR, she has built HR Business Partner Teams, People Operations, Global Employee Relations, Compliance, and Shared Services from scratch. We recently sat down with her as she took us on a journey from her unusual first jobs to pivotal moments in her career, sharing fun and insightful anecdotes from her personal and professional life.


The following transcript has been edited for clarity and ease of publication:

MARI: Hi, Deborah. I'm Mari. I'm so happy to be here in Mexico with you. You get to see our offices here and you already got to explore the Philippines with us. So it's been a minute and I think it's about time that our community and our team members get to know you a little bit better. If that's okay with you, I'm gonna ask you a few questions.

DEBORAH: Okay. All right, I'm ready.

MARI: Describe yourself personally and professionally in three words. What would those three words be and why?

DEBORAH: I think the first one that comes to mind is Traveler. Throughout my career, I've changed roles. I always changed industry. I started in hospitality and hotels, then banking and manufacturing, and now the BPO industry. I've been all over the place. I've traveled. I always go to new landscapes. I feel like that gives you a chance to learn something new. And personally, that resonates because I love to travel. So that's definitely a big love of mine.

Second, I think my friends and family and work would all say Loyal. I care about the people I work with and my family. I'm a bit of a writer guy, so I'm somebody that people can count on. And the third thing is a little funny because I'm not super muscley, but I would say Warrior, just because I have a strong personality. But the biggest piece of that is more that I'm a big believer in resilience.

MARI: Talking about travel, what is the most interesting place you've traveled to? And what have you learned through that experience?

DEBORAH: My top two was first, our recent trip to the Philippines was incredible. Tacloban; the days there I'll remember for the rest of my life. Over the course of my life, I think the most transformational was the first time I came to Mexico. I grew up in Wisconsin, more northern Wisconsin, which isn’t very diverse. It's very homogenous. So the first time I went to Mexico, it was like, whoa, but in a good way. The juxtaposition of wealth and poverty. It just gave me a tremendous sense of gratitude. You see yourself differently in the world landscape for the first time. It was a transformational experience.

MARI: Is there something about you that would surprise people?

DEBORAH: I think the fact that I work in HR on a People team now, which is usually like a corporate sort of management job. I think a lot of people are surprised when they learn that in a former life, I was on a full-on trajectory to be a Spanish professor. I have a master's degree in Spanish literature. I almost became a Spanish professor and HR found me. It was a big shift career wize.

MARI: What is the book that you're currently reading or podcast that you're listening to? What are you consuming right now? And what are you getting out of it?

DEBORAH: I actually asked for all of the Brene Brown Books for the recent holiday. I'm going through all of them again. And I think that the ones that I'm currently looking at are Dare To Lead and I Thought It Was Just Me (But It isn't). It's about the journey of Am I enough?

MARI: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?

DEBORAH: My wife and I, we bought an RV. We have the pickup and a trailer. Our absolute favorite thing is taking the RV to the national parks. We slowly make our way around. So we go to Banff in Canada and my absolute happiest place is if I'm with my two little boys and my wife and maybe some family and we're going on a hike in the national park or some beautiful journey.

MARI: Next question that comes to mind is, what is a personal mantra of yours?

DEBORAH: When you know better, do better. Maya Angelou said you do the best you can and then when you know better, you do better.

MARI: How would you describe you in a song?

DEBORAH: I don't know how much it describes me or not, but the one I would pick is I Will Survive. But I think that’s tied to the whole of my life. When I was a kid, I was very sick. I spent months and months in hospitals. I had doctors telling my mother that I wasn't going to make it and my lungs had a lot of troubles and were shutting down. I had a lot of surgeries. I used to just get angry at the doctors but in a healthy way. I would get angry because I would say, well, you don't know, I'm going to be fine. And so I just kept on like powering through

MARI: When you talked earlier about being a Spanish professor, it brings up a question for me about what has been the most unusual, interesting job you’ve had?

DEBORAH: I've had some interesting jobs. I sold appliances, so ask me about the dishwasher, I can help you out. I know a lot about moisture and refrigerators, which is randomly useful knowledge. I was a telemarketer, but in a call center that sold mortgages. I was horrible at it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for individuals who can do that work and do it successfully. Cold call sales is really hard. I know that, I see it, I lived it. The people that knock that out of the park, I'm so impressed by. And then the last one is just kind of funny. My first job was at Burger King, and I got recruited by the Minnesota City Sweatshirt Company because it was in the mall. They offered me 25 cents an hour more, which was a big deal. I went from five bucks to $5,25. This was big money. She said, if you come into the mall and work for me, I'll pay you this extra money. Well, I don't know that it was the best choice popularity-wise, though, because Minnesota City Sweatshirt Company was an old lady sweatshirt company. It was like embroidered burns and doily colors but on a sweatshirt. It was embroidered like Blue Jays, Cardinals, a beautiful chickity on a wreath with a doily collar. And you have to wear the swag. So I'd stand in the mall. You like my cardinal? Anyways, I was good at it.

MARI: What is the pivotal moment in your career? What did you learn from it?

DEBORAH: It was some really hard feedback I got and when I received it, I didn't agree with it. I completely shut it down. I was like, that's not true. It was a former manager of mine. His name was Jeffrey. He was at US Bank. He was a great manager. I think it was during review time. He had given me the feedback that I wasn't resonating and connecting with the managers, that I didn’t really feel seen or heard. For me, I would go home and think about them at night. And I would worry about them. I really cared. I was always trying to work as quickly as possible for them and support them, but the missing gap that I didn't realize was, I was so trying to be efficient that I wasn't building the relationship and just seeing them holistically.

When Jeffrey gave me that feedback about the connection, I read this long email thread. It was one of those out-of-body moments where you're reading an email thread, but you don't hear your own voice. I saw one of my responses and I was like, Well, that was snippy. Then I realized it was me. I had to hear it in my head. He planted the seed and then when I saw it, it changed how I approached things. I had the empathy, but I wasn't delivering it. Jeffrey gave me the most valuable piece of feedback for my whole advice. And it really has changed how I operate.

MARI: What advice would you give to people who want to enter your world?

DEBORAH: I would say: Just do it. And don't be fearful. I started as an HR coordinator and I was lucky that I had a connection and came in, but it was a part-time job. I did bulletin boards. I decorated the cafeteria. I did filing. I didn't feel like I have a degree, this is too basic. By starting at the bottom, that allowed me to learn about the company, learn about the principles and then from there I could continue on. I had a wonderful mentor, a VP of HR, that took me under her wing. I’ll never forget her. Karen Spindler, one of those leaders you remember for your whole life. She would call me on the phone. Miss Hamill, it's Karen Spindler. And then she proceeded to teach me something, or we talk about something. It was incredible. So you just go in and you try and then don't be fearful of doing something that you don't know.

MARI: What are you most excited about leading the people organization at Boldr?

DEBORAH: I think the biggest thing is that, in my career there's been different types of HR departments that I’ve encountered. And I'm really opinionated on what it should look like. Because I've seen a lot of companies that have a people department whose focus is the company It's all about protecting from risk and that's their alliance. And certainly, you have to do that. We have to be responsible. But for me, it's more about how do you do that without losing your humanity? How do you take care of the team members, but also make sure that the company is okay? And that's possible. And that's really how you approach conversations. The way you go about that completely changes the tone in the organization. And that's really powerful. And the other thing I'm just really excited about is, I feel with Boldr, with how we're focused on development and learning, I really want to achieve this vision that everyone who walks through our doors has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.