Wildfire Program Open Doors and Facilitates Connections for Participant Alisha Arnold 
January 27, 2016

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling this year’s six CUPA-HR Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We hope you enjoy getting to know this dynamic group, as we have over the past few months — we think they’re destined for greatness, both in their careers and in CUPA-HR! 

In the last issue of the eNews, we introduced Sarah Deitz. Here, we’ll meet Alisha Arnold.

I’m Alisha Arnold, human resources manager for the College of Letters & Science Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have worked at UW-Madison for five and a half years, four in human resources. My decision to apply for the Wildfire program was based on the changes that UW-Madison faced as we implemented a new personnel system effective July 1, 2015. This implementation came after four years of hard work and collaboration across campus and the UW System. I applied for the Wildfire program to connect with others who had experienced similar systemic transitions, and to gain insight on best practices.

To date, my experience with the program has gone beyond all expectations. The opportunity to participate in the Wildfire Program has allowed me to grow, personally and professionally, as I work with program leaders and fellow Wildfire Program participants. These experiences continue to expose me to perspectives and expertise that I am able to apply every day, during transitional periods and moving forward in my career.

A component of the Wildfire Program that has exceeded my expectations is the monthly “topic of interest” calls we have with the national board of directors. The board members that participate come from varied backgrounds, ranging from two-year colleges to large public research institutions. The calls provide an opportunity to hear provocative ideas from thought leaders that challenge us to rethink the way we think. To me, this is one of the most exciting things about the program, as it helps me grow into a better HR professional. Additionally, it is reassuring to know that the struggles I face are similar to those of other highly successful people in academia. These calls and subsequent conversations have been a major learning opportunity for me.

It is inspiring that those involved with the monthly calls share a commitment in transferring their knowledge and experiences to early career professionals; it makes our field stronger. I appreciate all of these thought leaders, for the gift of their time, which I know is in short supply, as well as all those involved in the Wildfire program for their commitment to CUPA-HR and the program. The calls alone, a small component of what the Wildfire program is, are a reflection on the committed professionals of the association. The collaborative spirit motivates young higher ed HR professionals like me and provides opportunity for everyone to be part of the greatness.

Additionally, connecting with others in similar positions across the nation has afforded me the opportunity to identify areas of personal development for myself. In many cases, had it not been for Wildfire, I would have never been exposed to these opportunities. Being surrounded by professionals who are passionate about what they do has been invaluable.