HR expert puts her studies to work while connecting civilians to jobs with the Navy, Marine Corps
For 32 years, Michele Roberts has worked for one employer – the Department of the Navy in human resources. She’s traveled the world to such exotic locales as Bahrain, Spain and Italy, and she’s lived in London, Mississippi, Washington D.C. and in Keyport, Washington, while managing civilian hiring tools and processes for the Navy and the Marine Corps.
“I’ve never worked any other job but Navy HR,” said Roberts. “I started working part-time in high school when I was 16 doing clerical work, and then they took me on full-time after I graduated and I’ve never left.”
Roberts plays a critical role. She’s in charge of civilian recruitment processes and tools for the Navy and Marine Corps, used to fill jobs in the U.S. and around the world. Like many government positions, the full title can be a mouthful. Roberts is director of Recruitment Tools & Processes Division, Office of Civilian Human Resources Headquarters. She holds certifications for Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SCP). But it’s how she connects people to the right jobs that Roberts says makes her happy.
“I like that I can help improve the processes to get people hired in the right jobs around the world,” she said. “Of course there are ups and downs, like when the government had a hiring freeze, or when there’s a new presidential order or a legislative change, but it’s always challenging and exciting, and I’m never bored.”
One might find it surprising that such a critical department for the Navy is based at Keyport, just outside Poulsbo, Washington. Roberts says the team of five people who manage the HR recruitment processes and tools for civilian hiring remains where it began in the ’80s.
It turns out being in Kitsap County is good news for the community. In 2014, Roberts received a public service award from the Seattle Federal Executive Board for her community work with Work Source, which tapped into her expertise for helping people find employment and improve their resumes. Also recognized were Roberts’ contributions to the Bremerton Rotary Club, speaking with high school students in the club’s mentorship support program who aspired to attend college. “There is nothing more rewarding than helping those in the community understand the federal hiring process.”
Coincidentally, Roberts was pursuing her own college degree at Brandman University’s Bangor campus. She graduated in July 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.
“I’m over the moon that staff there made it so easy, and I learned so much that I could apply to my work right now,” said Roberts. “I improved myself in leadership competencies and it’s made me a much better leader for the Department of the Navy.”
Brandman’s military-friendly policies, tuition assistance and “having a plan” enabled her to successfully complete her degree, even though it took nearly 13 years in all. “Had I gone to college right out of high school, I’m very social, and it would have been such a different experience,” said Roberts. “I made it to the top of the general schedule without a degree, but taking these classes have improved my performance.” Now Roberts is contemplating a master’s degree, maybe in marketing. “Not many people have both HR and marketing expertise, but first, I want to take a little break and enjoy this!”
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