Bruce Waller’s HR Super Stars Series… Meet Natalie Parrish, HR Director and SHRM Leader!

Sharing Leadership Lessons in an interview with Bruce Waller…

10 Answers from HR Leaders that make a difference! 

I once heard Sara Blakely, (CEO Spanx) say, “The more you experience in life, the more you have to offer others.”  Today, I want for you to experience more by learning from some Super Stars serving in HR! I am inspired by people every day who model great leadership for others through their daily actions in human resources. These leaders have common threads that include empathy, love and care for people. They value people and the importance of relationship building.

In this HR Super Stars interview series, I want to introduce you to some of the best of the best in HR! These leaders make impact and will share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader and in their personal lives. My hope is each person will inspire you and challenge you to become more for others on your journey.  So, let’s get started and meet our HR Superstars!

Today, we are going to hear from Natalie Parrish, MBA, SHRM-CP, PHR, HR Director at Cross Timbers Hospice. I have enjoyed getting to know Natalie through OKHR and Arbuckle SHRM and have been so impressed by her approach to HR and leadership. She is fun, smart, genuine, and cares about people. She is also passionate about HR as you will see and deeply cares about driving SHRM’s purpose and mission to “Elevate HR” in the community and “build a workplace that works for all”. I am honored and excited to share this interview with you. I hope you enjoy! Now, let’s meet Natalie!

  1. Where did you grow up? Madill, Marshall County, the smallest county in Oklahoma.
  2. How did you get started in business/career? Started off in “management” at a family-owned appliance store and plumbing services sector with my brother. Transferred out of the family-owned gig for a job in City Government for the City of Ardmore as the Assistant to the City Manager. After four years in that role, I transferred to the HR Department at the City of Ardmore as a Generalist and found my lane in Human Resources. I LOVE HR. I love the people and I am a complete Excel nerd. I love spreadsheets! 🙂
  3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader? I have been told I’m a natural leader. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that if I’m asked to do something, I’m going to give it my 100% effort or I won’t say yes. I learned this early on because I took on too many volunteer projects and tried to do them all perfectly. I was not giving them my full potential and when the projects ended I would feel like I failed because if I just had one more week to market them, or if I had one or two more items for the silent auction I could have broken the fundraising goal, it was always “what if I had done xyz”. Through trial and error over the years I have learned to do one thing and do it well. It IS about quality over quantity. When I volunteer now, I only take on what I know I can do with pride.
  4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose? I spent a few months with Brawn Lide as my Life Coach. He is a John Maxwell superstar. After we went down a long road together, we discovered that my heart was in volunteering and I will always be a volunteer somewhere. I learned that it is wonderful to volunteer, but I needed to make the most of my personal value when volunteering. My volunteer time needed to have a purpose. I found my volunteer lane at the local and state SHRM chapters, volunteering for great organizations in the area of HR, which is obviously something I’m very passionate about. Through those volunteer roles I have made the most amazing network of HR professionals that I have to lean on. They are my sounding boards, my peers, and most importantly my friends. I wish everyone had my tribe.
  5. What is your most valued achievement, and why? Receiving my PHR and SHRM-CP certification. It means a lot to me personally because I took the PHR exam – that horribly long and scary test that I studied for six months to sit for– when I was in the final seven months of my MBA, with a 2 year old, while working 40+ hours/week, while volunteering for all my organizations, organizing a Poker Tournament fundraiser, and still managing to cook dinner.  That spring, I passed the exam, graduated Summa Cum Laude, won the Chamber of Commerce’s “Rising Star Award”, raised record setting funds at the Poker Tournament, and had an overall amazing year. Those “things” are my most valued because that year taught me that I truly can do whatever I set my mind to. It empowered me. 
  6. Is there any one person who inspired or mentored you along the way?  Barbara Hill. She was my HR Director at the City of Ardmore when I was a Generalist. She introduced me to HR, to SHRM, to getting my first certification. She taught me how to look at both, or multiple, sides of a problem, how to come up with solutions that make everyone at the table happy. She taught me how to HR like a professional. She probably doesn’t even know how much I look up to her. When I would go in and ask a question, she never gave me the answer. She asked me what I thought and why. Then by way of conversation led me down the path to get me to ask the right questions to get to the right answer.  She was an amazing boss and mentor!!! 
  7. Do you have a saying or creed that you live by? You can do anything!!! You. Got. This. Stay Anchored. 

I have had this piece of notebook paper with this sentiment on it since October of 2012. I put it up on my door so I had to see it daily when I left my house. Since then it has been with me everywhere I go. It now resides on a little bulletin board in my office. On that same bulletin board is a photo of my anchors, my sorority sisters. The four of us have been through thick and thin together over the past 25 years but we stay anchored. The anchor is the symbol of our sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau.

8. What book(s) are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now? Find Your Lane, obviously! 

9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader? Attitude of Gratitude. I heard Lisa Ryan speak a few years ago and her theory of gratitude has stuck with me for years. Focusing on what you have instead of what you do not makes you a better person. At the VLBM in November, the same sentiment was shared by one of our keynotes. She spoke on how water with positive sentiments freezes beautifully into art, but water with negative connotations looks almost like a disease under a microscope. Then she pointed out that we as humans are made up mostly of – water. So that goes directly back to my gratitude thoughts. I want to be beautiful on the inside.

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10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey? Find your people. Ask questions. Get out of the comfort zone. Ask more questions than you give answers, there is ALWAYS other sides to the story and in HR and leadership you should never make a decision without knowing all 3, 4, 5, 6 or 10 sides to the story!

Absolutely outstanding, Natalie. Thank you for letting us get to know you better. Some of my takeaways include: Family businesses are a great way to get started in our careers, we all learn through trial and error, we just need to keep trying and learn along the way, Brawn Lide and Barbara Hill both sound amazing. We all need people outside the workplace to talk about work and life. I cannot even imagine studying for an MBA and taking the HR certification during that time. That takes focus and a will to achieve something great. Nice work! Love the mantra “You can do anything” – and those pictures bring a smile to my face. It shows the value of relationships! Hope you are enjoying “Find Your Lane”. I can’t wait to hear more… Having an attitude of gratitude is part of the winning formula. Thanks so much for sharing. And lastly, love this advice… “Find Your People”! This is where the joy is in our careers and in life! Thanks again for sharing.  

Congratulations on being an HR Superstar! You are truly making a difference in the HR community!

If you would like to learn more about Natalie, check out her LinkedIn page and connect, or visit Arbuckle SHRM to learn more about her SHRM chapter…

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can connect by phone at 972-389-5673 or by email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. You can also sign up for his weekly blog “A Relocation Minute” at brucewaller.com

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