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Darla Moore School of Business


MHR alumna gains both professional, personal skills through program

Sept. 24, 2018

Valerie Lawrence (MHR, J.D. ’17), Eastman Chemical Company


What is your current role?

I am an HR representative at Eastman Chemical Company in Martinsville, Virginia. I work in general employee relations, which involves managing hourly population onboarding and hiring and assisting with organizational planning and professional development.

What did the Master of Human Resources program do for your career?
The MHR program gave me the confidence to speak up in executive team meetings from day one by providing the academic foundation that allowed for an easy transition into the work environment. In the program, I learned to ask the questions necessary to get the answers I’m looking for, and the analysis tools we learned help me evaluate ideas through multiple perspectives on a regular basis.

What was your most influential experience in the program?
Learning from the AbbVie HR Leadership team that it is possible to be a mom/wife and have a successful career. The female representatives shared stories about how they didn’t feel like they had to sacrifice their careers in order to have a family. If you working for the right company, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do both.

How did the program prepare you for success?
The program introduced me to a great group of peers. It created an environment where we didn’t compete with each other, but rather we competed with ourselves to be the best we can be. We weren’t afraid to help each other, nor did we become discouraged when others succeeded. By having that mentality moving into the workforce, it was easier to make friends rather than enemies. Furthermore, we were able to grow in our professional experiences by learning from the successes and failures of our classmates.

How do you use your degree day-to-day in your job now?
Excel stays open on my computer. I would never call myself an expert in Excel, but through the class projects and the Excel boot camp we had the summer before we started the program, I’m able to effectively contribute through Excel.

What was the most valuable thing you learned in the program?
The concept of behavioral-based interviews. I conduct about eight interviews a week. By understanding the concept, I know what questions to ask and what indicators to look for while doing those interviews. We’ve seen a huge improvement in the caliber of our recruits.

What is your fondest memory of the Moore School?
The PepsiCo etiquette dinner. Funnily enough, I learned that I did not know how to eat. Since starting my job in January, I have attended multiple lunches, banquets and social gatherings. Now that I know the right way to eat, I see and understand how distracting an individual can be when they do not use proper etiquette, and people remember you better when you use good etiquette.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
After six months of working with the company, I was given a development assignment at a site in another state. Traditionally, employees stay in a job role for two or three years in the same location. I give credit to the MHR program for giving me a head start and enabling me to contribute from day one.