CUPA-HR Wildfire Program Has "Sparked a Fire" in Participant Adrienne Preddie
March 23, 2016

Over the past several weeks, we've been profiling this year's CUPA-HR Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We hope you've enjoyed 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! 

We've already met five of the six 2015-16 participants — Sarah Deitz, Alisha Arnold, Bel Campos, Jaylyn Corna and Stephanie Kelly. Here, we'll meet Adrienne Preddie, as she tells us in her own words about her Wildfire journey. 

My name is Adrienne Preddie, and I serve as the training specialist at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, a role I have been in for a little more than two years. I joined Ivy Tech in 2013 after spending 11 years with a nonprofit organization where I served as a senior program director, managing various grants and the programs associated with those grants. As a supervisor, I strongly believed that it was my responsibility to help my employees grow and develop so that when they moved on to other positions they would have the knowledge, skills and abilities to be successful.

In addition to my day-to-day responsibilities, I often worked with the human resources department, specifically in training and development, and was certified to facilitate several of the organization-specific employee trainings. My involvement in training and development within this organization helped me to realize my passion for helping others reach their professional goals. When grant funding came to an end, I realized that I had the opportunity to move into a new profession and find a position that would be more fulfilling.

Ivy Tech Community College had an opening for a new role called talent development and acquisition coordinator. I applied for this job because the role encompassed two things I am most interested in — higher education and human resources. Though I only served in that position for a short time, I learned a great deal about the acquisition process, and through interaction with other departments I began to learn about other components of HR such as benefits, risk management, employee relations and talent development. After serving for eight months in the talent development and acquisition coordinator position, I was promoted to my current role as the training specialist. In this role, I create e-learning for faculty and staff and, with the help of IT, maintain our learning management system.

Because I have such a passion for education and development — both my own and that of others — I was intrigued when my boss told me about CUPA-HR and sent our team information about the Wildfire program. I wanted to learn as much as I could about HR in higher ed. As an eternal optimist who's not afraid of rejection, I without hesitation applied for the program. To my surprise I was selected, and I have to say, this has been one of the best experiences of my life.

From my very first interaction with the staff of CUPA-HR, I knew that I had made a good career decision. When I say, EVERYONE is welcoming, I really mean it. Every interaction began with the warmest welcome and a smile. I soon realized, through participation in conferences, conference calls, one-on-one interactions and local chapter events, that this is just how HR professionals behave. They are a welcoming bunch who genuinely want to help others succeed professionally.

Because of my involvement with the Wildfire program, I have had the opportunity to interact one-on-one with CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley, who has been more than willing to share his extensive knowledge about change management with me. I've been able to pick the brain of Indiana University CHRO and CUPA-HR board member John Whelan, my wildfire guide, about career mapping and how to gain experience so that I can make a smooth transition into a generalist position in the future. I've also been able to participate in topic-specific conference calls with experts in the field of higher ed HR. And I am very much looking forward to my upcoming shadow visit with University of Denver chief HR officer Amy King, where I will get to see firsthand HR in action from a transactional level and a strategic level.

Thanks to my participation in the Wildfire program, I feel as though my knowledge in the field of HR has quadrupled over the past few months! I make sure to pay it forward by sharing everything I have learned with my colleagues at Ivy Tech, and I'm currently working on the creation of an e-learning course on stay interviews that I hope will be included as part of CUPA-HR's Essentials.

The purpose of the Wildfire program is to spark a fire in the participants, and I am sure that my fellow cohort would agree that the flame shines bright in each of us!