Cynthia Hoffman, Group Manager, Human Resources, IBS Software, Atlanta, USA
Hello Cynthia, tell us a bit about your role and what you enjoy
I am a human resources professional for the Americas region, based in my home town of Atlanta, Georgia. I love the work, it is never the same and you never know what is coming next. Very fast-paced and people-driven.
What creates the buzz for me is knowing I can help people spend more time focusing on important things and getting critical work done.
What was your childhood ambition?
It was to be a professional pop singer! I was given a scholarship from Wesleyan College and while I had some natural singing talent, I was not so good at playing the piano or any of the other skills required to build a career in music. So, I changed major and graduated in Speech Communications and Public Relations.
From PR to HR…tell us about your career arc
My first role was at CNN in Atlanta, in Public Relations. The job was one of the most fun and exciting positions I have ever had! I was meeting dignitaries, celebrities and potential investors who came to learn about CNN. It was fast-paced and perfect for someone newly graduated, but the compensation was very low, and I knew that if I ever wanted to move out of my parents' home, I needed to find something else.
What did you do next?
I considered becoming a teacher, which is a very solid, stable career but it was not really for me; so I re-evaluated my path. Through a friend, I found out about a sales role at The Pillsbury Company and I relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee with my husband.
He was proud of what I had accomplished, respected my career and never asked me to forfeit the things I had worked hard to achieve but he was struggling to find the right opportunities as a civil engineer.
So we made the decision to move back home to Atlanta to follow his career. This was a tough time for me as I had to decide what to do next, just when I believed I had found the career I wanted, at a company that I really admired.
What type of role were you exploring?
I was seeking a position where I could utilize my sales and communication skills and learn new leadership and project management skills. I joined Randstad North America and began a fruitful career in recruiting that would continue for over 16 years.
How did you move into HR and tech?
I wanted to develop my career into the human resources field; I was contacted by the CEO of a company that specialized in audio/visual technology and negotiated a role that covered recruiting and HR.
My hard work and passion paid off; I applied the skills I did have, gained new ones and I've come to love the tech industry.
This position laid the foundation for my role at IBS Software where I'm now celebrating eight years!
The journey has been fun and rewarding, I have had incredible opportunities and met amazing people along the way. I am very fortunate and blessed.
Who are the female mentors who helped shape your career?
I come from a family of strong, hard-working independent women so I had very good mentors. My mother worked outside the home, yet she never seemed to struggle with all the demands of motherhood. We sat down and had dinner as a family every single night; she was always at all my school events, and really engaged in everything that we did as children, all while having a career that she really enjoyed. She was a great example of 'having it all'.
How do you encourage other women in your field and beyond?
Over the years, I have developed a great network of professional women who work in all sectors and we mentor each other through sharing our experiences, challenges and guiding each other in any way we can.
What are some of the career challenges you've experienced as a woman?
The biggest challenge has been the topic of emotional intelligence in leadership. We have now evolved to recognise that leading with emotion is critical to success, whereas in the past, if you showed emotion (especially a woman), you were considered weak.
Men and women were somehow taught to be stoic and that showing emotion was unprofessional. I always hated phrases like 'it's business, not personal' or 'kindness is weakness'.
Now I think we have a much healthier approach to leadership where leaders are taught to have a high level of emotional intelligence, empathy, and kindness. Much better than the old approach, in my view!
Your career advice to the next generation?
Always try to have a role that makes you happy, really, really, happy! We all have a job at some point in our careers that we hate, but never stay in that place for very long.
I just love this saying and I apply it as a benchmark for my job as well as life: "I am not happy all day every day, but I am happy every day." If at the end of each day I feel that way, then I am doing well.
My next trip will be…
…a Royal Caribbean Cruise! My all-time favorite activity is a cruise and I try to go at least once a year (more if I can talk my husband into it). We just finished the most amazing trip yet aboard Symphony of the Seas in September. We sailed out of Miami to Sint Maarten, Saint Thomas and the Bahamas.