Alumni from the School come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. My name is Bethany Jones, and I’d like to share my story to show what’s possible for the graduates who come after me, particularly those with a teaching background.
My story starts as a Foreign and English Language Instructor at the College of DuPage while also working as an English teacher for the Board of Education in Mitsuke, Japan. I could see the development of language used as a connection between people and the importance of trust and psychological safety.
After three years, I decided to pivot and receive my Masters of Industrial Relations and Human Relations. In 2005, I graduated from LER, and my path in HR began. The skills and knowledge gained through my first career as a teacher serve me to this day.
I started at GE as an intern during my time at LER and joined their team in their popular HR Leadership Development Program following graduation. I knew that being flexible was the key to a fruitful early-career experience. I was very open to my placement and went to work for the then-GE Plastics organization in Massachusetts and later in Alabama. When SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) bought GE Plastics, I made the move to China with my family for two years. I assisted SABIC with transitioning the business and developing the organization’s culture while based in Asia. I continued to work for SABIC for almost nine years in Talent Management after we returned to the US, based in Salt Lake City, often traveling the globe and regularly going to Saudi Arabia.
Eventually, world events in the Middle East began to weigh on me. The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, struggles with women’s rights, and a very tumultuous landscape caused me to struggle with a variety of moral issues. SABIC provided me with exposure to a variety of cultural issues I would never have seen firsthand and opened my eyes to what is most important in my life. In 2020, I decided to make the leap and leave my position without knowing my next role. This decision brought uncertainty, but it eventually led me to my dream job.
In March 2020, I started as a Regional HR Director at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-profit organization supporting refugees. I initially thought this would be a lighter job, but it ended up being the most challenging work I had ever done. Shortly after I joined IRC, the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, occurred, and within days, everything became complex, challenging, and rewarding. Within a few months, we were evacuating clients from six different military bases and resettling the Refugees across the U.S. As you can imagine, this was highly demanding, and I worked around the clock. Eight months ago, I was promoted to Director of Leadership Development, where I was tasked to lead our strategy for growing and accelerating our leaders globally. Working with IRC is extremely rewarding, but so many injustices are happening that it gets difficult to step back and ensure effective boundaries for myself.
Stepping into a new role is motivating, and the possibilities seem endless. I look forward to harnessing the skills I have acquired throughout my professional career to support IRC. It’s also thrilling to get back to the roots of teaching and to see how much the world of education has changed. As a non-governmental organization, there is an accelerated model for leadership, which makes the process very challenging … but exciting!
I credit most of my drive for these causes to LER and the compassion and empathy shown to me while I was a student. During my time at LER, my dad unexpectedly passed away, and I received so much compassion during one of the most challenging times in my life. I will never forget the kindness of my fellow students and the LER family. HR is a field that handles human emotion in their daily lives, so learning and experiencing this firsthand is what makes the School so unique. Leading a single person, team, or company will always require you to understand that we are all people at the end of the day. And, now more than ever, we can see LER students making an impact in the world.